Celebrating the courage to be different

Junior Jazmin Hortons tattoo provided the inspiration for this illustration.

Keegan Tenney

Junior Jazmin Horton’s tattoo provided the inspiration for this illustration.

Keegan Tenney and Staff

For many, the high school years are a time to grow and develop as a person. During that journey, kids need to be able to express themselves without fear of persecution by anyone else. Everyone has different ways of expressing themselves and everyone deserves the right to do so. Clothing, hair, piercings, and tattoos can help students feel and look different and unique, which is an important part of growing. To allow students to fully grow and become who they want to be, the community needs to allow them to feel safe expressing themselves. Giving students the right to dress the way they want, whether it’s someone’s favorite unicorn shirt or simply just a piercing, it gives us a sense of hope. Going to school makes you feel out of your comfort zone regarding what you wear, look like, or have permanently embedded into your skin. Also, waking up everyday for any unwanted purpose can be dreary and repetitive, but breaking up the seemingly never ending school day with expression through clothes, piercings, or even tattoos can be an escape for many.
Schools need to honor self expression, because if they don’t, it can cause severe self esteem issues and a sense of loss because students could feel as though they don’t know who they are. Considering the great amounts of time students spend at school, all students need to feel comfortable while at school and not have to suppress themselves in order to fit a set “standard.” Also, honoring those students who have the confidence to experiment with different outlets, such as their clothes or tattoos, can be helpful to those students who may not be as confident.

Tattoos physically portray how different we all are, and how these differences make us beautiful as a society. Many show it through physical art like drawings, some choose music, and some choose to put something on their body forever that will be reflective of the things that are most important to them. Every person is created in their own way, they are built to be unique and that is beautiful. We need to accept who people are on the outside as well as the inside. Someone being comfortable and proud of who they are is what is truly beautiful. Tattoos and piercings are automatically seen as risque to some, but it is important to recognize that they aren’t signs of rebellion, they are symbols of self-expression that often have a deep, personal meaning to their wearers. Tattoos and other means of self-expression are a sign of courage, because it is a brave step to distinguish yourself from your peers when it’s easier to just fit in, or worse, become invisible.

Some schools punish their students for expressing themselves, which is unfair and hypocritical as many tell students to speak for themselves on one hand while suppressing their freedom of expression on the other hand. The way we express ourselves as teens reflects on our adult life, so if we don’t feel accepted now, there is a high chance that the feeling of neglect would carry into the rest of our lives. Let us be us, and welcome us no matter what background we come from, no matter what is on our skin, no matter what – period.