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Student Life

USF Students Embrace Tattoos in Their Own Way

Students at the University of South Florida are getting tattooed in memory of loved ones as well as to display their spiritual beliefs.

On a walk across campus from the Marshal Student Center to the Communication & Information Sciences Building an average of 1 and 5 students have a visible tattoo.

Tattoos have taken on a new roll in American society. What was until recently a method of rebellion against authority, body art has become something so much more.

Tattooing has begun to be accepted by people and groups that have not so readily embraced it in the past. A lot of businesses are becoming more lax on their tattoo policies. People bearing tattoos are no longer being discriminated against or over-looked because of their art.

Caitlin Johnson, a writer for Colombia Broadcast System (CBS), wrote an article about how tattoos are becoming more “mainstream.” Her article goes on to quote employers on their feelings about their tattooed employees.

Jim Hoisington, a higher up at ZB Sports, chooses not to discriminate against people with tattoos. He is quoted about one of the employees he hired with body art. In the article he says, “If I had passed on her because of her tattoos, I would be out one phenomenal employee.”

This acceptance in the workplace paired with tattoos new mainstream position has helped make students more comfortable with the decision to get tattoos.

“I always wanted a tattoo more than anything,” freshman at USF Jesse Goldsmith said. “I saw more and more employers being okay with it, so I went for it.”

According to a study by Scott Adair, an assistant professor of youth and family ministry at Harding University, a majority of students get tattooed between the ages of 18-22.

Within ten miles of the USF Tampa campus there are more than ten different tattoo parlors.

The idea of young adults moving away to college and getting a tattoo isn’t a new concept. What used to be seen as simple an act of rebellion against authority has now become a popular way to express your beliefs or feelings.

The same study by Adair shows that a majority of students getting tattoos are now getting them in memory of someone or as a method of some kind of expression, whether it’s spiritual or psychological.

Ashlee Rogers is a 22-year-old senior at USF. She has eight tattoos that she has gotten over the past four years. Some of her tattoos focus on her journey through life, while others seek to express certain goals she wants for the world. Her favorite tattoo runs down her spine and it reads, “I control my destiny” in Arabic script.

Photo Credit: Tessa Walter Ashlee Rogers, a senior at USF, says that each one of her tattoos represents her journey through life and the wishes she has for the world.

“I choose to believe that God is not responsible for the path that I take in this world. My decisions are completely my own and I grow through those decisions. It is the choices that I make each day that decide where I will be the next,” Rogers said. “My tattoos serve as a permanent reminder of that fact.”

Atomic Tattoos, located on Fowler Avenue just a mile down from campus, reports that a majority of their clientele are USF students.

Steve McAlister has been tattooing for 13 years. In that time he has identified major shifts in tattooing. He explains that in the past 20 or so years the kind of people getting tattoos has completely changed. He also says that the amount of student customers has definitely risen.

“It wasn’t so long ago that the only type of people you really saw getting tattoos was the stereotypical biker type. People that wore leather jackets and rode Harleys were the kind of people that were expected to get tattoos. Recently, there have been all kinds of people, McAlister said. “On an average day we see anything from stay at home moms to youth ministers.”

According to McAlister, the most common tattoos that he gives are spiritual (cherry blossoms, crosses, script verses) and memorials (children’s names, deceased family member’s dates).

Teal Dabney, a sophomore at USF got a memorial tattoo on her right foot that reads, “I Was Nineteen.”

“My tattoo is in memory of a friend that I lost when I was nineteen,” Dabney said. “It may seem dumb but that’s how I chose to remember them.” provides a page that shows a progression of miscellaneous tattoos statistics. The oldest statistic listed is given by Life Magazine in 1936. It reports that in 1936 around ten million Americans (6%) had at least one tattoo. A more recent statistic provided by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gathered in 2006, reports that more than 45 million Americans have at least one tattoo.

Tattoos popularity in our society appears to be drastically increasing. As the younger generation embraces them it is likely this trend will continue to thrive.


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