The Student News Site of Clemson University

The Tiger

The Tiger

The Tiger

Grad student’s tattoo shows sign of fandom, self-confidence

Valerie Smith, Staff

Martha Karnes is one hell of a person to say the least. Flashing her new “Star Wars” BB-8 tattoo on her thigh, she immediately volunteered to be interviewed for a new series about Clemson student tattoos and piercings. 

Karnes is a huge “Star Wars” fan from Bedford, Virginia, who has always wanted to prove her fandom with a tattoo. She wasn’t sure which character or design she wanted permanently etched into her skin until March of 2016, a few months after getting her bachelor’s degree. After enrolling in her first semester of the Master of Arts in Professional Communication (MAPC) program, Karnes wanted something that highlighted her quirky personality.

“After I saw the new ‘Star Wars’ movie, I thought BB-8 was cool. I felt like he was a really positive character with a mission to complete,” Karnes said.

Isn’t that what all college kids should be doing — completing a mission to obtain a college degree with a positive attitude? 

The BB-8 design is Karnes’ second and most recent tattoo. The first is a small arrow tattoo she got on her ribs when she was 18. 

At the time, one of her close friends said, “You might regret it one day, there’s nothing you can do to avoid that, but it becomes a part of you and who you are. It’s a part of your story.” 

This is what inspired Martha to get her next tattoo. 

“I just thought, ‘[my friend’s comment] was such a beautiful thing to say.’” 

Originally, Karnes wanted a flower as a tattoo design, but was also pulled to the BB-8 design. So what did she do? She decided to go with both! Withdrawing $450 ($400 tattoo + $50 tip), Karnes made her idea a reality at 138 Tattoo in Gloucester, Virginia. 

Though she wears it proudly, Karnes enjoys having a tattoo on her thigh, because it makes it easy to cover up when she needs to be in a professional environment. 

“No one ever knows I have a tattoo and then I show them and [to them] it’s [a big deal].”

There wasn’t a deep meaning behind the Star Wars design other than her obvious fandom for Star Wars, Karnes said. The tattoo helped her gain more self-confidence as someone who has been dealing with self-esteem and body issues her entire life. Karnes said she recognizes that some may think of “Star Wars” as a geeky movie loved by the anti-social. Yet, she strives to ignore those types of comments. 

“It makes me feel really good about my body to have something so pretty permanently on me.”

Convincing her parents, who hate the idea of tattoos, was a struggle for Karnes. In fact, she got her ex-boyfriend to tell her parents about the tattoo idea. Once the announcement was out, Martha convinced her parents that it would be a small, inconspicuous tattoo, the complete opposite of what she got. Her parents weren’t okay with it, saying, “When you regret this as an old woman, that’s on you.” 

Martha hasn’t begun to regret it. 

Martha encourages people to go after what they want, even if it’s different. However, she also stresses being smart and safe, especially when it comes to getting a tattoo. 

“If it’s something you want to do, go for it. Don’t let other people’s opinions hold you back. I almost did and I’m so glad I didn’t now. What matters at the end of the day is that you’re happy with yourself.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Tiger

Your donation will support the student journalists of Clemson University . Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Tiger

Comments (0)

All The Tiger Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *