Destigmatizing tattoos


Photo by Joey Hernandez

The tattoo reporter Joey Hernandez has on his arm was the second tattoo he received. (Photo courtesy of Joey Hernandez)

By Joey Hernandez, Reporter

Over the last few decades, people have wondered if tattoos have developed a poor reputation in the workforce.

Imagine someone’s babysitter covered head-to-toe with tattoos. A lot of people would not feel comfortable leaving their child in the care of someone with numerous tattoos. In the United States, historically, tattoos have often been associated with delinquents or low-life individuals, but very recently they have been getting a better reputation amongst the younger and more open-minded generations, who consider them no more than a form of art. 

For thousands of years, humans have been marking their bodies with ink, all for different reasons, such as asserting status within a group, following cultural beliefs, or simply for the art.  

Now, the outlook on tattooing and tattoos in society has completely changed. Although it is true workplaces could have the power of turning someone down simply for being inked up, for the most part, tattoos are becoming less of an issue, and more of an extension of oneself.

One of the reporter’s many favorite tattoos, an example of the popular “cyber sigil” tattoos. (Photo courtesy of Joey Hernandez)

“I can remember when I first got [tattoos] done on my forearm, and I was walking downtown Wheaton one time and all these old women were looking at me weird,” American History/Criminal Justice teacher Joe Zeman said. 

Zeman has numerous tattoos, including a cross and a design a student created for him. 

¨Many times, students will first see my tattoos and have this idea of me in their head and then get to know me, and understand how nerdy I really am,” Zeman said. 

The legal age for someone to get a tattoo in the state of Illinois is 18; however that does not stop tattooing from happening on underage people. Many times underage individuals are able to get parents or guardians to sign off on a tattoo because it is being seen more and more as art and expression.

“Even though I don’t condone everyone under eighteen to get a tattoo, I feel like in these days and ages, its meaning is changing slowly with more and more people getting inked up, you know, like professional people: teachers, lawyers, dentists. We might have a president in the next decade with a whole sleeve. I feel like it’s up to an individual to decide on a tattoo, as long as it’s meaningful,” said personal tattoo artist Cindy Hernandez from West Chicago.

Another tattoo the reporter has: a tribal/cyber sigil tattoo. (Photo courtesy of Joey Hernandez)

“I feel like your skin shouldn’t be treated like a classroom desk with meaningless doodles everywhere. It should be thought through very thoroughly, as the ink is very much permanent, and the placement is just as important. So those are the only two things I can say as a person who plans on getting a tattoo, and can speak for many others as well,” former West Chicago Community High School student Raed Jalil said.

Another thing that has been trending in late 2022 and into 2023, is temporary tattoos: not the superhero ones people apply as kids, but temporary ink. A popular brand is inkbox. This is an option for someone who wants to try a tattoo out, or is not yet 18.

When Zeman first started at WEGO, another teacher told him, “It’s ok to have your sleeves rolled up in this school.”

“I felt very comfortable, like I wasn’t going to be judged for my tattoos,¨ Zeman said.