Stephanie Bricker
Student Writer

Empowerment. What types of things does this word bring to mind? Tattoos? No? Senior nursing major and English literature minor Emily Hess would beg to differ. She shared with us her story this week about how the ancient words she’s placed on her body had a profound result of empowerment in her life.

What is your tattoo and what does it mean?

I have one tattoo, inside of my left bicep. It has two parts: flowers and a Hebrew word. The flower is an almond blossom branch, which is a symbol of having hope in the coming of Christ and the fulfillment of His promises (from Jeremiah). The text is the Hebrew word “timshel,” and it means “thou mayest” (essentially “you may” or “you can choose to”). That’s from Genesis 4 when Cain is tempted to kill his brother, and God says to him “Sin is crouching at your door. Its desire is for you but thou mayest rule over it.” For me, my tattoo is a reminder that I’m not a slave to sin. It’s a promise, but it’s a command too. It’s a reminder that I have to pursue right living, to serve God with my choices. Ultimately, the composite is a reminder that my hope is in Him and His plan to restore all things into His perfect will.

When and where did you get your tattoo?

I got my tattoo in December at 717 Tattoo on Jonestown, from Laci Hess. She’s a fantastic artist, and I would highly recommend her to anyone looking to get work done.

What was the process of getting your first tattoo like? Did it hurt? Did you bring anyone along?

I spent about a year thinking actively about getting the tattoo—the design, where on my body I wanted it, the style and size and what my parents would say. I researched artists and shops in the area and found Laci. She’s a talented artist who specializes in line work and florals which is why I chose her. I didn’t think that it hurt like people said it would. I could feel the buzzing of the tattoo gun and a stinging like sunburn, but not a lot of pain. I brought one of my roommates, which was good because there was a lot of waiting around. It was fun to have someone be excited with me and share the experience.

What are some common questions you get asked about your tattoo?

One I get is how it will affect my role as a nurse. There are pretty strict rules in the hospital about having visible tattoos. A lot of hospitalized patients are older and have a very different perception of tattoos than my generation. So I got it in a place where my scrubs will cover it. I hope that in coming years the rules will relax and the stigma about tattoos will change, but for now, I want to respect my patients, and so I’ll keep it covered at work.

What’s something you want people to know about getting tattoos/your tattoo?

I was surprised at how empowering the whole experience was. I can’t believe how much I love my tattoo. It’s such a great reminder and it’s so beautiful. I never saw myself as the type of person who would have a tattoo, so I would say to people who feel that way that there’s no “type of person” who can or can’t have a tattoo. If it’s something you want and something meaningful to you, then you should do it. But I would advise taking time, consideration and prayer because it is a big decision and a life-long commitment.