By: Adam Falluji – Staff Writer
A close look shows that many students on campus have tattoos of different designs, each with its own story. Tattooing is an ancient practice that spans over centuries of human history and can be traced to numerous cultures across the world. Meanings or purposes for tattoos vary, and students at Centre each have their reasons – and one or two funny stories.
Senior Gordon Duren has gone under the needle two times thus far. One of his tattoos is a quote from the Bible, Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so man sharpens another,” printed on the inside of his left bicep. Duren got the tattoo when he was 19 years old as a birthday gift on the beach because the quote is one that he and his three brothers often share.
“It means a lot to me because it’s sort of a way for me and my brothers to unite,” Duren said. “My oldest brother isn’t a big needle fan, so he has a bracelet with it. It’s a way for us to show our unity.”
This past summer, Duren acquired another tattoo, this one on his right ribcage. This second image depicts four sets of coordinates of longitude and latitude. They mark where he was born, where he was raised, where he goes to college, and where he has studied abroad. Although very meaningful to him now, he initially made the decision spontaneously.
He had been sick and was tired of staying in his room. Having gone by himself, his tattoo artist asked him if he was up to the challenge of getting the tattoo and Duren insisted he was fine.
“The second one I got because I like to travel a lot and every place I go to holds significance. So that one’s definitely something I’d want to add on to as I go to more places. It’s a progressive tattoo,” Duren said. “My dad’s not a big tattoo person and he always says, ‘The Bible says you shouldn’t tattoo yourself.’ Well I say every temple needs some art.”
Duren has always been interested in tattoos, finding it fascinating that people find something so meaningful to them that they would permanently mark themselves with it. He can see himself getting more in the future and really wants a half-sleeve tattoo.
He doesn’t plan on being “completely tatted-up,” however.
First-year Mady Thielemann also has a number of tattoos she wears proudly, each with a different story that represents her perseverance.
One is of a hummingbird with a rainbow of abstract colors. Located on her hip, the bird has big wings and holds a locket with a pink stone. Underneath the image of the locket, the words “Stay Strong” are written in black ink in a cursive print. The symbolism of the bird for Thielemann helps to bring the image together.
“Hummingbirds are small but mighty. Their wings beat really fast and strong. Hummingbirds are also a representation of hope,” Thielemann said.
Another of her tattoos is on her ribs, and is a quote saying “Carry your Dreams.”
“This is the embarrassing one,” Thielemann said. “I get made fun of a lot for it, but it means a lot to me. It’s from a Martina McBride song, which is the embarrassing part.”
Thielemann’s intention is to only get more tattoos if they hold special meanings and have a special purpose, which explains the detail that she has included in each one on her body.
“I have to love [them] 30 years from now, even when they don’t look that good anymore,” Thielemann said.
First-year Mariah Harrod is also proud of her tattoos, enjoying the art that they add to the skin. She decided to get her first tattoo on her 18th birthday and the image continues down her spine.
A quote from Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, the tattoo reads, “It was written that I should be loyal to the nightmare of my choice.” Harrod enjoyed the novel despite the fact that many of her peers did not. The tattoo has a different meaning to her than it does in context in the book, reflecting her tendency to make unexpected decisions and choose her own path regardless of what others think.
Her second tattoo was a more spontaneous choice.
Consisting of two Hindu-esque designs on her waist, the design was suggested by the tattoo artist and she chose to get them in the color red. Harrod’s third tattoo is a famous quote by Julius Caesar that reads, “Veni, Vidi, Vici” and means “I came, I saw, I conquered.”
Harrod believes that tattoos should be respected because of the special sentimental value they hold, which is difficult when oftentimes they are judged rather than respected.
“When you get a tattoo it’s a personal meaning. Of course you want people to understand you through your tattoos,” Harrod said, “because there’s a story behind them.”