Last updated on Feb 17, 2016
By Joseph Iemma
Assistant Features Editor
I vividly remember my grandfather telling me when I was eight years old, “Joey, you’re a good boy and I love you very much…but please, please promise me you’ll never get a tattoo.” Mind you, at just eight years old, I had yet to receive my first timeout at school, coupled with the fact that I could barely grasp the concept of what this man called a ‘tattoo.’ So, out of pure curiosity, I looked at my grandfather and asked him what most eight-year-olds ask, “Why?”
My grandfather, who was, and still is, a man of many words, responded; “Because Joseph, you won’t get a job, you won’t get married to a good girl, you won’t make Jesus proud and you’ll make Popop (slang for grandfather) very sad.” Those words stuck with me. They stuck with me until Oct. 30, 2015, the day I got my first tattoo. Ever since that moment, I’ve been particularly hard pressed to discover the answer to why tattoos are so polarizing.
“Tattoos are polarizing because they reveal a person’s level of consciousness,” said Jake Sandsberg, owner of a landscaping company in Queens. “If you have a star tattooed onto your elbow, you probably watched way too much ‘Jersey Shore’; you’re living in the now and you’re probably not too forward thinking. Now let’s say you have actual art on, like a cross that somehow intertwines with your life, etc. That doesn’t tell me you’re Bill Gates, but it tells me there’s something there, and it makes you much more ‘hireable’ than want to-be Pauly D (star tattooed elbow guy).”
Now, was my grandfather onto something? I asked senior chemistry major, Adine Abrams, about her tattoo and if she consulted with any loved ones before getting it. “All my father said to me was, ‘Do you know what you want to be?’ I said yes, either a scientist or a teacher,” she said. “My father accepted my response, but stressed that visible tattoos can affect future employment, and that tattoos are permanent.”
Abrams, who sports a scroll-like design up and down her back, doesn’t regret her decision yet, but says she’ll really know how she feels about her tattoo when her children one day ask her, ‘Do you like your tattoo, Mommy?’ or ‘Can I get a tattoo, one day?’
As a 20-year-old junior in college, who hopefully has about 60 years ahead of him in terms of how long I’ll live, aside from the fact that I have a tattoo (which is not visible because of preference), I have zero issues with tattoos. In my opinion, tattoos are forms of art, and self expression. Second, who am I to judge someone by their tattoos? We’re taught not to treat anyone differently because of the color of their skin, or which god they pray to. Therefore, doesn’t judging someone by his or her body art seem juvenile? Prejudicial?
Tattoos, like other things, are becoming more and more part of, and accepted in our culture. There is one truth that has withstood the test of time. The truth that there’s more to what meets the eye, so if you judge someone by a tattoo, or lack thereof, you’re probably wasting your time.
It’s the content of one’s character, not the features of one’s skin, that define who someone truly is.