Want to learn a lot about someone, without him or her even saying a word? Take a look at their tattoos and piercings. Once shunned by society as something only for extreme rebels and soldiers, tattoos and piercings have now become a mainstream form of self-expression. Hundreds, if not thousands, of Temple students have also embraced the idea of “body art” and have altered their bodies to express themselves like never before.
Not too long ago, the only acceptable type of piercing was of the ears. Today, people pierce every body part from tongues to the most private of parts.
“It’s a decoration of your body,” says Zakiya Johnson, a junior Communications major, who has her tongue and bellybutton pierced.
Many students claim they love piercing because it allows them to make a non-permanent statement.
Colin Esposito, a junior Business major, who has his ears and labret pierced says, “I’ve had ’em all.”
Still, he rejects taking the step that many who are pierced often do. He won’t get a tattoo.
“They’re permanent, and I don’t like that kind of permanent,” he comments.
For those who are willing to make a permanent statement, tattoos seem to be the most popular medium.
“I got mine because I feel they could represent me for the rest of my life,” says Melton Thomas, a junior Psychology major.
Jeffrey Jones, a senior majoring in Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience, has been getting tattoos for over the past 10 years. He has intricate artwork on his arms and knuckles. He also has a Micronesian tribal piece that runs from his thigh up his back.
“Since I was seven, I was drawing pictures of myself with tattoos, so I knew I always wanted to do that,” said Jones.
Jenelle Estwick, a junior majoring in Criminal Justice, recently got her first tattoo, which symbolizes both her personality and her allegiance to her sorority.
“I still can’t believe I did it, and that it’s here for life,” she said.
Camille Lewis, a junior majoring in Human Biology, also has a tattoo symbolic of something in her life. She and her friend got matching yin and yangs with the Japanese symbols representing friend and enemy.
“It symbolizes friendship, and the balance that exists in life,” she said.
For others, tattoos mean a lot more than just body art or reflections of themselves. One of Gerald Coursey’s tattoos is a memorial of his grandmother, which he had done over his heart.
“It’s sacred to me,” said the 19-year-old Barnes and Noble employee.
Jeannine Wilson, a sophomore majoring in Athletic Training, wants her first tattoo to be a “dedication and memorial to my brother.”
So, whether body piercings and tattoos serve as decoration, symbols of one’s self or memorials to loved ones, they all illustrate how one’s body can be used to express what goes on within one’s soul.