Stick-and-Poke tattoos symbolize identity

Yoon Kim, co-a&e editor

It is a Friday night, and junior Jordan Dahiya sits with a few close friends in her room, scrolling through Instagram. They come across a stick-and poke tattoo video, and before they know it, they are standing inside of a Michael’s two minutes before closing time with needle and ink in hand. Sixty painful minutes later, Dahiya looks down at her arm and sees five black lines representing a music staff, something she loved so much she had always wanted it permanently under her skin.

“I remember looking at [the tattoo] after she wiped it off and kind of being like ‘this is here forever,’” Dahiya said. “[I] was so glad that I finally had the symbol that I’d been thinking about for so long, [and] I remember thinking that there was no other situation I would rather have done it in. I remember just feeling excited and relieved and just happy to have it.”

Dahiya is not the only student at South who has a stick-and-poke tattoo, a kind of DIY tattooing that involves a sterilized needle and ink. According to senior Penny Star*, a close friend of  hers helped her tattoo a small tree on the inside of her foot two summers ago.

“I think [the tattoo is] special because it’s a really stupid decision I made, but I still love it and I don’t regret it,” Star said. “It’s kind of like a reminder of my teenage years, and it brings me back to when I was fresh out of sophomore year and finding myself, and I thought [that] getting a tattoo would be rebellious and liberating in a sense.”

Star says that last November, she stick-and-poked a tattoo onto senior Joel Pribek. According to Pribek, he chose to get a tattoo of an anchor on his lower right leg to symbolize his plan of following in his dad’s footsteps

and enlisting in the Coast Guard. Pribek says that, although he does not regret his decision, he does not recommend getting a stick-and-poke tattoo, as it can be unsanitary and has the potential to become infected.

“I was with two of my friends, and we were planning on doing [stick-and-pokes] for a while,” Pribek said. “The funny thing is, at the end I [brought] out the lighter because that’s how you sterilize it, and [my friend freaked] out because she forgot to sterilize it [until] after she did it, but we wiped it down with antibiotics so it was all good.”

Dahiya says she feels there is a stigma against stick-and-poke tattoos. However, she does not agree with the notion that stick-and-pokes are less significant than real tattoos as she believes both carry a similar purpose.

“It’s the same thing as getting a [professional] tattoo,” Dahiya said. “They’re making the choice to have something meaningful on them.”

Although Star says she is aware of the fact that her stick-and-poke tattoo does not resemble a professional tattoo, she says that she would choose to keep her stick-and-poke experience the way it is.

“I would not change anything [about my stick-and-poke] because it’s just a really fun memory to think back on, and it was a really fun day,” Star said. “I was so excited to have it done. I remember it was this stupid-looking stick figure of a tree, but I loved it endlessly.”           *name has been changed