Tattoo revue: freshman Jayla West’s sleeve connects her to her biological father

By Mikayla Silcox

Elm Staff Writer

Tattoos have a unique way of connecting people through art, meaning, and community.

For freshman Jayla West, her favorite tattoo does all of that and more, and the emotions behind the portrait on her arm have elevated since getting it.

On July 2, 2021, West got a tattoo of a girl and her father at the beach on her forearm. The characters portrayed are an idealization of West and the biological father she fantasized about meeting.

West recently had the opportunity to meet her father, and when asking about her tattoos, he could not help but feel as if he was physically connected to his daughter for much longer.

“All odds beat, I met my dad and we’re both happy and doing well in life. My heart feels fuller knowing who my dad is,” West said.

After meeting her father, the piece on West’s arm sprung into a new light. Tattoos are powerful pieces of expression, and they have a way in which they can emotionally affect those around us as well as ourselves.

West is proud of her tattoos. She also has roses and butterflies on her outer forearm, as well as a dove with her grandma’s birth date on her hand.

While tattoos are criticized by older generations, West takes pride in the art on her body.

“I’m very secure in myself and my decision and I never do something for no reason, so when people tell me I’ll regret it, I take it with a grain of salt,” West said.

West is ambitious, and her ability to express herself only fuels the fire of her ambitions. She is working to run her own dental practice, where no employer could demean her for having ink on her body.

However, in the time leading up to her goals, West is confident in the pieces she has, and she possesses a trait frequented in people who have tattoos: she is not worried about what others think.

“If I were to work for someone else and they couldn’t appreciate me expressing myself this way, then I don’t think I would feel comfortable working in that space anyways,” West said.

In West’s case, her favorite tattoo of her and her dad at the beach resurfaced in a meaningful, almost fated, way, but even before that, it exposed what West saw as important in her life.

West wears her ink with pride, embodying the innovation, self-expression, and sense of community cultivated at Washington College.  

Photo by Mikayla Silcox.

Photo caption: For freshman Jayla West, tattoos represent both fantasy and reality.

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