College students should think twice about tattoos

Whether it’s flaming nautical stars, bold Chinese symbols or a massive tricolored dragon, tattoos are becoming very popular with college students.

While some think tattoos are cool and creative, students should practice restraint when getting them because they can cause problems in formal situations. Body art is too distracting at weddings, funerals or graduation, among other occasions.

Generally, as long as a tattoo can be covered, it won’t pose a problem in getting hired for a job or interview. Since big tattoos are difficult to hide, students should stick to small ones that can be well-hidden. A tattoo could cost you a job if it’s visible during an interview, as they look unprofessional.

Even the military is starting to crack down on them. According to USA Today, people in the Navy can’t have tattoos larger than their hands. In the Air Force, it can’t be any bigger than one-fourth the size of the body part it is on.

The Army is heading in the other direction, though. According to the article, the Army is loosening its tight restrictions on tattoos to allow more people to join the force.

Tattoos are obviously gaining greater popularity among young people if the Army is being forced to lower its restrictions.

To some USF students, tattoos are all about creativity. William Willis, a freshman majoring in English, said, “(Tattoos) are the ultimate way to express yourself and (to) connect with your body.”

Freshman Lesley Ryf, who has a medium-sized peace sign on her right hip, said, “Tattoos are beautiful and a really creative way of expressing oneself.”

However, these creative expressions can become excessive.

NBA players run wild with ink. Many athletes sport vivid sleeves, which are tattoos that completely cover the arms and end at the wrists. These players already have established careers and can afford to make poor decisions, but students seeking employment should not look to them as role models.

The USA Weekend compiled a list of mostly ill-advised player tattoos, such as Luke Walton of the Los Angeles Lakers and his 5-inch tattoo of the Grateful Dead’s notorious four dancing skeletons on his upper right arm.

Then there is the Denver Nuggets’ Chauncey Billups, who has “King of the Hill,” a well-known TV show, tattooed on one arm.

I respect tattoos that have a deep meaning. Take Gilbert Arenas of the Washington Wizards, who created a tribute to President Barack Obama with a tattoo of the words “change we believe in” on each finger of his left hand.

That’s fine, but I don’t understand dancing skeletons to honor a band or the name of a popular television cartoon. These tattoos are meaningful to the players who sport them, but what one person finds meaningful, another may find offensive or inappropriate.

If students must get tattoos, they should think carefully and make sure it counts. In a competitive job market, students don’t want to be disadvantaged just because of how they look. Whether due to their size or their meaning, tattoos can leave a bad impression.

Roxie Geimer is a freshman majoring in education.