Bailey Otter/ISLAND WAVES
In recent years, tattoos have become a staple in the culture of American young adults as a form of self-expressionism and community. However, body art is still highly stigmatized and looked down upon in professional and educational environments.
Island Waves conducted interviews with successful TAMU-CC students to better understand the gravity of tattoos within a rising generation and break the stigma of tattoos within higher education.
Jasman Sangha, a junior business major, is on the TAMU-CC men’s basketball team as a forward and center. His tattoos act as a true reflection of his adoration for basketball and his lifetime spent in the game. Sangha also boasts a back tattoo with his last name on it.
“At first, I wanted one because I thought they looked cool, and then as soon as I got that, I just started getting more meaningful tattoos that stood out to me. After that, I never stopped,” Sangha stated.
When asked how many tattoos he had, Sangha asserted that he had lost track of the number long ago. A day before his interview, Sangha added a new tattoo to his collection: the saying “#JUCOProduct” in a graffiti font in the shape of a heart on his left calf. This tattoo acts as a reflection of his time at Garden City Community College before transferring to TAMU-CC.
“You’re playing basketball with the jersey on, so everyone can see the ink that you have on your arms and your legs, and it’s just kind of a way for people to see who you are,” Sangha said about the significance of tattoos in basketball.
Sangha’s early life living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, gives him a unique perspective on the perception of tattoos between cultures. He stated that people judge his tattoos more in Toronto, as it is such a business-oriented city heavily occupied by professionals. However, he acknowledged that judgment and stigma around the tatted community run deep in society, no matter the country.
“People who don’t have tattoos at first kind of judge you… I’ve heard ‘uneducated’ before… but what I am doing in my life is expressing myself through my art,” Sangha said about the external judgment of tattoos.
Neyva Gonzalez, a senior biomedical science and psychology double major, first saw the act of getting tattoos as a form of rebellion from her parents. She got her first tattoo, a small star on her left shoulder, two weeks after her high school graduation and kept it secret for years. However, her second tattoo, an anatomical heart at the base of her calf, holds a powerful meaning.
“The second one was kind of when I realized I wanted to be in the medical field, and it was like I needed something to remind me. Times get tough when you are in pre-med,” Gonzalez said.
At TAMU-CC, Gonzalez is in the Honor’s Program and a member of both the Islander’s Feminist Organization and the Cat Club. Gonzalez hopes to attend med school after graduating from TAMU-CC at either the University of Texas Dell Medical School in Austin or the Texas A&M College of Medicine. Her long-term goal is to have a career as an OB-GYN, and she is looking to celebrate the accomplishment by getting a uterus tattoo.
Gonzalez believes that the vitality of the cultural importance of tattoos within Generation Z is not something that can be undermined. “It has made us obviously more open and is definitely a conversation starter,” Gonzalez said. “I think it is beautiful that people put these on their body forever and to see their passions on the outside.”
The interviews conducted with Sangha and Gonzalez prove that tattoos do not equate to their wide-perceived stereotypes, but instead act as a form of art, rather as a way to vulnerably express one’s passions and cares to the outside world.