Getting Personal #5: Tattoos (Part 1)

My interest in tattoos started about five years ago.

As a child, I never grew up around them – My parents don’t have any; not even my grandfathers, who proudly served our country, got one. The only person I can think of that may have one is one of my uncles, but that’s it.


Growing up, I had the perception that getting a tattoo, let alone multiple ones, was not a wise choice, almost a stupid decision. I vowed that I would never get one.

Even in college, I held that vow of never getting one. A lot of my friends didn’t have them or had no interest in getting any.

I think it officially started when I joined the sisterhood of Alpha Sigma Tau in the fall of 2009. Going Greek was one of the best decisions that I have ever made, and it affected me in so many ways.

I remember being fascinated by a sea turtle tattoo that one of the sisters had on her lower leg. I love turtles – Always have, always will. I ended up in the Turtle Family of the Longwood chapter, and my interest was quickly heightened. Most of my sisters either had tattoos already or wanted to get them. They knew what they wanted, and the stories behind them were inspiring to me. It was intriguing, and I wanted to know more – As much as I could possibly learn.

As I met more and more of the active sisters and the alumnae of Longwood throughout the years, I learned that many of these tattoos had significant meaning to the woman. Most of them were relating to family, and then it went into connections, feelings, memories.

Along the way, I discovered that tattoos can truly be an art form on one’s body.

Note: This is not my sorority sister’s sea turtle tattoo, I just like it!


Earlier this week, I put out a Call for Photos, explaining my idea for this blog post.

The response I received within hours was absolutely overwhelming.

I started getting Facebook messages almost immediately, and it just mushroomed every day.

The pictures I received, the stories I read, just confirmed my desire to write this post.

And, since I received so many responses, I’m doing a part 2!


I wanted to start with the person that has influenced a lot of my thoughts and opinions on tattoos: One of my best friends in this world, Justin.

Justin currently has four tattoos, and has plans to get several more. He believes his body is a canvas for this art.

I’m so grateful that he sent me pictures of all four, along with so much detail about them.

Thanks, Justin!

Photo Credit: Justin Clatterbuck

Photo Credit: Justin Clatterbuck

This was Justin’s first tattoo, on his left shoulder. He got it in September 2013 at Kiss of Ink in Farmville, Virginia. This is the Fairy Tail Guild Emblem, from the Fairy Tail anime. The meaning behind it: “No matter what, your comrades have your back. Believe in them, and there’s nothing you can’t do.”


Justin’s other three were done by the same artist at the same tattoo shop – Ryan at Ben Around Tattoos in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Photo Credit: Justin Clatterbuck

Photo Credit: Justin Clatterbuck

This was Justin’s second tattoo – It’s on the left side of his chest. These are the Keyblades, Oathkeeper and Oblivion, from the game Kingdom Hearts. Meaning behind this one: “Within light there is darkness, and every day is a battle within our light and dark in the daily choices we make. A ying and a yang so to say.”

Photo Credit: Justin Clatterbuck

Photo Credit: Justin Clatterbuck

Here is Justin’s third tattoo. He got it this past summer, on the right side of his chest. This is the Recon Corps symbol, from the Attack on Titan anime. Meaning behind it: “Even when your back is up against the wall, don’t give up.”

Photo Credit: Justin Clatterbuck

Photo Credit: Justin Clatterbuck

The above is Justin’s latest tattoo. He got this in November, on his right shoulder. This is a mixture of Paragon and Renegade symbols (a.k.a. Renegon), from the game Mass Effect. Meaning behind it: “We all have moral choices to make, each one affecting our lives down the road. Make your choice today. Are you Paragon or Renegade today.”


I’ve had conversations about tattoos with Justin for months now, and it’s been great!

Because of him, I have several ideas for tattoos that I want on my own body … But you’re going to have to wait for part 2 for that!


Next, I wanted to feature my first official response to my Call for Photos – My dear friend, Amanda.

Photo Credit: Ralph Kuhnley, Jr.

Photo Credit: Ralph Kuhnley, Jr.

Not only is this a gorgeous photo of Amanda, it showcases an amazing story.

Amanda got this tattoo for her 21st birthday, in 2010. She got it at Alley Cat Tattoo in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

Here are Amanda’s own words: ” … Near the end of my struggle, I got this tattoo done as a constant reminder that what I had done to myself was not a failure, but a lesson. A lesson to never need repeating. The placement was chosen because the skin stretches very little in this location, and it can be covered easily. But I always know it’s there…and I can show it off when I want to. Just like I can choose when to share my story.”

Thank you, Amanda!


I think I’m going to wrap this up … For now.

Look for part 2 – Coming soon!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

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