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College Ink: The Tattoo Story

Many college students take advantage of the chance to get tattoos once they get to school. But although the college community may be more accepting of such choices, many students are criticized for their body art because of the impact that tattoos have in the future and outside of college. So why do so many people get ink in college?  

Most students say that self-expression and personal meaning are the main reasons they got their tattoos. Sophie, a freshman at the University of Montana, said that she got her ink, an apple and a quote from Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha, just because it was something that she had always wanted. “The apple was kind of rebelling against my parents and asserting my identity, and the second was in reaction to another choice I made that I didn’t want to forget,” she said. However, these choices weren’t made without forethought. “I waited almost a year for my first tattoo…I did a lot of research.”
Sonja, a junior at UM, has four tattoos. “I feel like I thought a lot about them ahead of time. I planned out what I wanted…But when it came time to actually get them I did it pretty spur of the moment. I got what I had originally intended, but needed to jump into the actual act,” she said.
But does self expression hurt their chances of getting a job? A 2007 ABC article reported that 36 percent of people between 18 and 29 have tattoos, and that people from every discipline and industry were getting tattoos. Hannah Aitchison, a tattoo artist from the TLC series “LA Ink” said, “We are seeing people who are corporate attorneys, or neurosurgeons, or biotechnicians. I actually worked on … a woman who was a rocket scientist not too long ago.”
UM students agree that tattooing is on the rise but that it is also becoming more acceptable. “If you look at almost every industry there are people with visible piercings and tattoos,” Chelsea, another UM student, said. Others agree that older generations, such as those who are now employing tattooed college students, are becoming more accepting. “Body art has grown to be more than a fad among college students…my 43 year old mother is considering getting her first tattoo!” Sophie said.
However, tattoo placement is just one of the many things people considered before getting a tattoo. Braelynne, a UM freshman, said she got her tattoo on her foot because it’s easy to hide. “It’s technically discrimination [to not hire based on body art], but that’s the world we live in,” she said. Pamela, also a freshman, agreed. “I want to be a teacher and I made sure that where I got mine wouldn’t ruin my chances of teaching in some schools.” Many students also say that as long as a tattoo has meaning and isn’t offensive, that it shouldn’t affect their chances of getting hired. “Tattoos are permanent and everyone makes choices that shouldn’t necessarily dictate the rest of his or her life,” Sophie said.
Getting a tattoo is a big decision, and there is a lot to consider before making the appointment.  However, removing a tattoo is now an option. Q-switch lasers and the Q YAG 5 System are effective ways to remove a tattoo with minimal scarring. However, removal can be painful and take multiple sessions that can cost anywhere from $250-$800 a session. But for those with tattoos that want to remove them, painful and expensive removal is better than nothing.

Tattoo parlors in Missoula:
American Made: 406-721-3830
Altered Skin: 406-549-8544
Every Mother’s Nightmare: 406-549-2258
Blue Coyote Tattoo and Body: 406-549-4846

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