BC students have a variety of tattoos showing the importance of their faith and passions.
December 6, 2011
Tattoos are more than permanent marks for some students at Bluefield College who say their tattoos tell a story.
“To Write Love on Her Arms; that’s what drove me to get my tattoo,” said Courtney Dutton, a senior from Abingdon, Va. “The idea of the organization is to take love and cover up what this girl had carved into her arm.”
Last year Dutton wrote “love” on her arm on the national “To Write Love on Your Arms Day.” Later that night she was standing in front of East River Hall when the thought to cut her arm crossed her mind.
Dutton shows off her Love tattoo
“I just really want to do this!” said Dutton. “Then I looked down at my arm and said, ‘Ah! I can’t cut that!’”
Dutton said that moment she realized people really do love her and she can love herself, too.
Dutton said her tattoo serves a dual purpose.
“When I get upset I can look at my arm, and if I look really hard there are still some light scars,” she said.
Dutton said her tattoo helps her initiate conversation with people who might be going through the same thing she did.
“I mean, I never really cut hard,” said Dutton. “I just wanted to feel something. But now when I look at it, there’s the love.”
Other students at BC also have tattoos that they say are meaningful and symbolic.
“It starts a story,” said Marianne Williams, a senior from Evington, Va. “You can look at it and say, ‘Oh she just likes butterflies, but if you ask about it, you get a different story’.”
Williams remembers her friend Katie, who died in a car accident their junior year of high school, with a butterfly that sits on the top of her foot.
“For me, it’s a daily reminder when I get up that God knows where I’m going that day,” said Lauren Pillow, a junior from Chesapeake, Va.
Pillow has a tattoo on her foot of a cross sitting on a road. She said it’s a constant reminder for her to do what God wants her to do. Pillow said she wants to add the word “unfinished” in Hebrew, to the tattoo she already has.
“I know whatever God has planned for me, it isn’t over with yet; it’s always changing,” said Pillow.
Hallie Elder, a junior from Brookneal, Va. also has a tattoo on her foot.
“It’s ‘one step at a time’,” said Elder. “There are a lot of things that I’ve been through, and a lot of things I want to do; it’s symbolic for it being on my foot.”
Jackie Boyer, a junior from Chesapeake, Va., got her first tattoo this past summer. She has a treble clef with the Bible verse, Psalm 98:4, that says, ‘make a joyful noise unto the Lord.’
“It’s a reminder for me as a church music major and worship leader that even if I don’t feel like I’m always the best, as long as I’m doing it wholeheartedly, it really doesn’t matter because it’s for God,” said Boyer.
Jordan Owens, a junior from Kingsport, Tenn., got both of his tattoos this year.
“The one on my left shoulder is the kanji symbol for serenity, and the one on my right shoulder stands for honor, and it’s a kanji symbol as well,” said Owens.
Kanji are Chinese characters used in the modern Japanese writing system. Owens said he likes Eastern philosophy and was reading online about serenity when he found the symbol he wanted.
“I thought, ‘that’s me’, said Owens. “Lack of stress, which I definitely don’t have, is awesome and staying calm.”
Owens said his tattoo of “honor” is dedicated to his family and friends.
“Behind my ear it says sweet nothings,” said Megan Randall, a senior from Knoxville, Tenn. “I got it because of what people like to tell you. They think it’s something that you want to hear, but it’s not always the truth. I came to a point where I was fed up with it; the words were sweet but weren’t honest so they meant nothing to me.”
Bruce Hopler, director of spiritual formation at Bluefield College, also has a tattoo. Hopler’s tattoo is of the Celtic ichthus cross. In his blog, “Bruce’s Ramblings,” he writes that he wants to make disciples, and, like St. Patrick, use a holistic approach. Hopler writes that the Celtic way of evangelism is the only way, in his opinion, to reach the emergent culture to Christ.
These students, Hopler, and other people at BC said they don’t see a problem with people having tattoos if they mean something to them.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it,” said Boyer. “There’s scripture that says it, but it also says not to wear jewelry or do your hair. They’re laws from the past, and when Jesus came, he came to make a new law so those old laws wouldn’t have to be followed as strictly as before.”
Randall said she thinks it’s a personal decision because it’s your body.
“As long as you’re not harming yourself you can do what you please,” she said.
The students said they also took into consideration their future and career paths when they chose where to have their tattoo placed on their body.
Elder said she got her tattoo on her foot because she could hide it if she needed to.
“I wanted mine where I could cover them up,” said Owens. “I don’t think it should matter if you have tattoos showing, but a lot of people do.”
The students said they received different responses when they told their parents about their tattoos.
“My dad was funny,” said Boyer. “He was like, ‘what did you do, get drunk one night?’ I was like, ‘yea dad, I got drunk one night and got scripture on my leg’.”
Pillow said her mom didn’t talk to her for two weeks. Her dad just wanted to make sure the tattoo didn’t get infected.
Pillow, Elder, Boyer, and Randall got their tattoos at Body Chemistry in Bluefield, W.Va., a popular place where other BC students have also gotten tattoos.