Tats and Pearls

Do tattoos change the image of the Bennett Ideal?


"The Chinese symbols on my back mean love, beauty and faith," says sophomore Taylor Braddock, a biology major from Philadelphia, Pa. Taylor has 8 tattoos.

The days when hats and gloves adorned the heads and hands of the Belles of Bennett College for Women are long gone. During that time, legend has it, a Belle could be spotted anywhere wearing a strand of pearls draped around her neck along with her hat and gloves, of course.

Fast forward to 2010, and Belles have a new look. The women of Bennett now have new accessories…tattoos. While they don’t reside on every body at Bennett, tattoos stand out today just as hats and gloves would back then. Bold, bright designs in every color of the spectrum reflect off the arms, legs, feet and even hands of Belles all over the campus.

“You can tell a person by their tattoo- their personality traits, their values,”  says Kinyatta Dodson, a sophomore English major from Atlanta, GA. “Tattoos are a form of expression for people.”

Freshwoman Starlacha Hurst agrees. Hurst, an undecided major from Charlotte, NC, just recently got a tattoo that spans most of her back.“I’ve wanted one since I was 16,” she said.

Hurst’s tattoo consists of two guns on both of her shoulders with stars leading from them going down her back. “The stars represent soaring further than anything, going the extra mile. The guns represent shooting stars,” she explains. The stars are also a tribute to her name. “I love tattoos. They are an expression of a person’s most innermost thoughts. They’re a way for them to be creative.”

Not everyone feels that this creativity should be shared with the rest of the world. Nadirah Goldsmith ’99, operator of the La Belle Bookstore on campus, thinks that tattoos change the outward image of the Bennett Ideal. “They should be hidden,” she says. She does, however, change her tune if someone’s tattoo is symbolic, “depending on the character of the person,” she adds.

“My tattoos symbolize different things and help me support my identity,” saysDianne Wellington, a senior English Education major from Perth Amboy, NJ, who has four tattoos. “Some tattoos help build character as well as some demoralize them but overall people get them for different things.” One of her tattoos is a tribute to her home country of Jamaica and her deceased sister. It is in the shape of the country with a halo.

“I can have a tattoo of something but still be the Bennett Ideal. It’s about the person, not the tattoo,” Dodson, who is debating getting a tattoo, says. “A person that has their mom’s name tattooed on them versus the person that has a locket with their mom’s picture…It’s a different way of expressing love.”

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