Tattoos are a unique and permanent show of self expression that both students and staff display at Berkeley High School. Some tattoos are large, some small, some have color, and some don’t. Either way, all tattoos are unique to the person wearing it, and mean something special.
Philip Halpern, a video production teacher at BHS, has a tattoo on his calf of a monstera plant. He got it about four months ago, and said, “It symbolizes my love of my family.” According to Halpern, “It was a plant that was given to my wife by her mom when she was 22. It’s over 40 years old, and has been in our lives for as long as I can remember.”
The tattoo is also a remembrance of his family’s trip to Colombia, where monsteras are abundant. “I associate the way I take care of the plant with the way I take care of my kids,” said Halpern. All three of his kids have tattoos, and he shared that getting one himself is his way of saying “I see you, and I agree with you.”
Halpern said that getting a tattoo was a very satisfying experience. “After all these years of being fascinated by tattoos, I finally decided to get one myself.” He hopes they are done safely, and believes “everyone is the boss of their own body and what people choose to do with their body is their choice.”
One common reason to get a tattoo is to commemorate loved ones, and BHS Media Technician, Amri Gray, embraces that. Her left forearm has a tattoo of an EKG (electrocardiogram) with three pulses, and her right arm has the names “PJ” and “Kyle” with a heart around it. “The EKG is to remind me of three close loved ones.” Gray said that the tattoos help “to push (her) to continue living for them since they didn’t get the chance to.”
According to Gray, “The names commemorate the boys that passed away. I wanted to have something less metaphorical and more specific to commemorate their importance to me, but also to honor that they passed together.”
Gray shared that seeing students with tattoos is a little surprising, but said, “It’s part of their story, and who am I to judge anything about it? Tattoos or body modifications like piercings are really cool, and I’m glad that society in America is less shameful about them. I’m glad I don’t have to worry about my visible tattoos costing me a job, which it likely could have years ago.”
Anneka Quay, a BHS freshman, got her tattoo in middle school with parental consent. Quay said, “It’s a physical representation of mistakes I’ve made in the past.” Quay shared that she thinks it’s important for people to express themselves with tattoos, stating “body art allows individuals to express themselves as well as distinguish themselves from others. Some people use tattoos as a way to represent feelings and beliefs without having to use words.”