It is easy to fall for the Artist—that figure sitting atop a cult of personality, every move perceived as an act of creative genius, a critical darling with unusually popular appeal. Thanks to the gripping prose of many a romanticized New Yorker profile and America’s own historical allegiance to supposedly rugged individualism and celebrity culture, the Artist has worn many iconic faces. At times he—and the Artist is almost always a “he”—has appeared as the intense brooder with brush in one hand and liquor bottle in the other. A cigarette might have once sat behind his now self-mutilated ear. At other times he has worn a furrowed brow beneath an understated bandana, playing the role of misunderstood genius, too sensitive and self-conscious for his own good.
Bikram, Hatha, Vinyasa. You name it, and chances are I’ve tried it. After all, I did do my first sun salutation all the way back in the seventh grade when my school offered yoga in conjunction with hip-hop dance as an alternative to sports or fifth-period P.E. class. I’m still not sure who decided Missy Elliot and Tibetan meditation chimes would pair well, but my friends and I were willing to do anything to avoid picking up a field hockey stick or softball.
For many of us, college is a period of experimentation, self-exploration, and risk-taking. Our bodies are no exception to this. Just yesterday, a friend of mine began winter hibernation early by growing unprecedented facial hair. I have learned more about the anatomy of the ear from listening to my peers choose between daith and tragus piercings than from my high school biology classes. Yet, throughout my time at Harvard, I have found that most individuals fall into one of several categories when it comes to the issue of tattoos: there are those who staunchly claim stretch marks, professional advancement, and cursive ink do not mix well and that regret is inevitable; there are those who don’t see what the big deal is—a tat is a tat, the more the better; and then, there’s me.