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Body Builder

The Stories Behind the Tattoos

I was surprised how people opened up and shared detailed stories about the 'why' they got this tattoo. This section explores the interviews with people about their tattoos tells so much about their human stories


Ashton (21) "Student & Third child"


I am the third child in my close family from Texas.  My older siblings are twins, and always seemed smarter than me.  I carved out my own place in the family as the strong silent one.  People say I am extremely motivated and dedicated to a task, this tattoo proves to me that I will push through and win at any challenge that comes my way. Everyone can see this tattoo and people tell me it matches my personality. I am proud of what it stands for and proud the man I have become.  I know it will always be with me and I will always be a warrior.


Trevor (20) "Student" "Cultural maven"

While I don't share the common first name "John" with all the first-borns in my family, I feel very connected to our family crest. When I wanted to get a tattoo, the first and only thing I thought about was this crest. This stylized, 3-D shaded tattoo highlights my family heritage.  The coat of arms represents battle, the colors are reflective of our tartan, the leaves the land we grew up in.  I see this tattoo every day, my friends see it regularly and I am very proud of it.  I didn't realize it would hurt as much as it did while getting tattooed, but the pain is something that I had to earn.

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John (54) "Dad, trying to relive the Frat years"

Well, I got this tattoo in 1988 following a long initiation into my fraternity.  I wanted to be part of a large group so bad, and everyone else was getting one.  I thought I could hide it from my parents all summer long, but shorts and low socks got the better of me.  Now I understand this is a living piece of my personality.  When I look at it now I see, faded memories, days gone by.  I also see a connection with young people today.  Only about 10% of my colleagues at work know I have a tattoo.


Suzi (52) "Daughter/Mother"

After the shocking and unexpected death of her mother, this tattoo was my immediate next step. Written in my mom's hand writing with her favorite flower, it makes me feel like she is still with me. I have other tattoos, but this one is the most special to me.  I share a similar tattoo with my daughter reflecting her grandmother.

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Alexandra (22) "Grand daughter/Grandmother"

I was still in high school when my granny died.  We had been playing just days before and I still cant believe she is here to see how I have grown up.  My mom and I share this symbolic tattoo, but really this tattoo is my connection to my grandmother.  It may look simple, but the bond between daughter - mother - grandmother is very strong. We are the matriarchs in our family.

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Erica (22) "Bonnets for my mother"

This was my first tattoo, and I felt I was missing something in my freshman year of college. It was a change that was permanent enough but not big enough to mess up anything I had ahead of me. I just did research for my own little project for my mother as this was her favorite flower. I found this guy named “Snake” that my dad had gone to and overall it was a pleasant experience. I even got a discount for it being my first piece.


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Mac (21) "Out of the coccoon"

My sister died from a brain tumor just before her third birthday while I was in elementary school. It was hard for all of us, especially my parents. This tattoo was a way to memorialize her in the way we see her through monarch butterflies in nature. I colored each of the butterflies in my sibling’s favorite color: pink, red, and yellow respectively. My other tattoo depicts my love for the Star Wars franchise, especially for Obi-Wan Kenobi, my favorite character from the whole saga.


Han (20) "...two hundred dollars too many..."

Although not my first tattoo, my most recent is my first professionally done. I got a cat with a little clown thing around its neck by Will from Oxford Tattoo. I plan on getting many more tattoos and piercings. I wanted to get tattoos that actually don’t have any specific stories or that evoke strong emotions. I’m not a super serious person to start with and I don’t want to be that serious with my tattoos either. My parents are the same way about it, and my late stepdad had so many tattoos.

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Cheri (59) "Ode to my lost daughter and to my living son"

I am a Mom, I am an Accountant, but more than anything I will forever be the mother to my daughter.  We lost her too early, and we commemorate her spirit each year in a charity fund raiser.  To me she was just becoming a woman when she died.  Seeing this tattoo every day lets me know her spirit is close.  I am happy when I see this tattoo.  It is visible to everyone, and I wont hide that part of my life. 

We still have our son, and we are blessed with his uniqueness.  He designed this tattoo for me, and I see the bright colors that represent his spirit and lifestyle.  The hexagonal shapes remind me how all the pieces of our family fit together. Likewise, everyone can see this tattoo also, and I am proud of him too.

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