Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Inked: Northport tattoo artist says laser removal most common between ages 22-26

Whether it’s a cute butterfly, an intricate sleeve or the letters of a greek organization, tattoos are a growing trend among college-aged students. In a 2004 study conducted by the American Academy of Dermatology, 24 percent of college students had tattoos. A mere eight years later, in 2012, 36 percent of college students were reportedly inked up.

Connor Cook, a sophomore majoring in political science, has four tattoos: one on his arm and three on his back.

“My first [tattoo] was after a bible verse, my second was after a pet and a quote I love, and my most recent were my brothers’ signatures,” Cook said. “They really are just cool, simple designs that I enjoy having on me.”

Chris Howton, the owner of Cynical Tattoos in Northport, Ala., has been tattooing for more than 20 years.

“There’s an increase overall in younger people getting tattoos and not looking at the consequences of what they’re doing,” Howton said. “The ages 22-26 are the most common for people to get a tattoo removed by lasers.”

The decision on where to get tattoos placed is becoming a major decision for students, especially those ready to enter the work force.

Mary Lowrey, the director of career education and development at the UA Career Center, said there is no official policy when it comes to visible tattoos in a professional environment.

“The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission does not provide a policy on tattoos specifically, however, there are policies related to implementing dress codes consistently,” Lowrey said.

“Employers may have a written policy against revealing tattoos in which case an applicant with a visible tattoo may have a greater challenge when interviewing there.”

In Cook’s case, all of his tattoos are easily covered with a T-shirt.

“That was my dad’s rule and I follow it,” Cook said. “We live in a professional society, but at the same time tattoos are becoming more and more prevalent. I know multiple doctors and lawyers who have tattoos everywhere. One surgeon I know personally has sleeves and his entire back done, but he is still a respected professional in his field.”

Lucia di Prima, a senior majoring in early childhood education, got a small tattoo on her foot to honor her Italian heritage.

“I have a tattoo of a Trinacria, which is simply a symbol of Sicily,” di Prima said. “I got it because my grandparents and aunts still live there and it’s basically a second home to me.”

Like Cook, di Prima said it was important that she be able to cover her tattoo if needed.

“There wasn’t a specific reason I got it on my foot other than the fact that it makes it easy to hide and not quite as distracting to others,” di Prima said. “I think in certain job settings, having tattoos can have a part in someone getting or not getting a job. Some job settings are more corporate and strict while others allow people to be freer in their personal appearance.”

If you’re debating on whether or not to get a tattoo because of professional reasons, Lowrey said it is imperative for an applicant to learn about the job position before applying.

“Employers tend to want their employees to project the company image, so a more conservative organization is less likely to be accepting of visible tattoos,” Lowrey said. “Researching an organization is an important step for a job applicant for many reasons, including learning about the company’s culture.”

Howton said young professionals should establish themselves in their field before getting a tattoo, particularly if it’s a large one.

“No job will not hire you because of a tattoo, but some will make it hard for you,” Howton said. “I would think about it for at least a year before I got [a tattoo].”

Regardless of job prospects, tattooing among younger generations is on the rise and will most likely continue to grow. The legitimization of tattoo parlors as an acceptable business and industry is another reason for the growth of inking.

Cook said there was no doubt he wanted more tattoos in the future.

“It’s a fun experience and I enjoy the idea of that personalization of my body,” Cook said. “I think that the stigma that has been associated with tattoos is fading rapidly, like many other stigmas that were prevalent in the last generation.”

di Prima also said she would consider adding tattoos to her tiny foot piece.

“I have considered getting another tattoo but only when I find something that speaks to me,” di Prima said. “I’m not one that is going to get a tattoo just to have one.”

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