Tatted: Writing motivational messages on your body

This is the eleventh episode of Tatted, a podcast telling the stories behind people's ink.
Graphic by Kat Owens

KAYLA DRAKE | Multimedia Producer

Senior Sommerlyn Stevens has multiple motivational messages inked on her body. Her messages take the form of a lion, to show courage, a shark, to drive out fear, and a swimmer, to help her focus. 

“I love those motivating – take from your past and move forward – type tattoos,” she said.

Growing up in Buffalo, New York, Stevens started competitive synchronized swimming at a young age. While in high school, Stevens mom paid for her first tattoo. The tattoo depicts a swimmer and her favorite quote, “free your mind and dive in.” 

Stevens was on the synchronized swimming team for three years and for her senior year switched to rugby. 

Stevens has a total of five tattoos and lets her artist keeps the stencils in case other people want her tattoos. 

“If somebody wants the same thing as me, I don’t care,” she said.

Stevens said tattoos are addicting and is planning to start a half-sleeve soon. 

The first thing people ask when they see her lion tattoo is "Is that for Lindenwood?" But that originally was not Stevens' intention. She got the lion in honor of her grandma who loved Wizard of the Oz. 
"I just like how the lion is this silent, humble beast and motivator," she said. "And you know why not, throw in go lions."
Photo by Kayla Drake
Although Stevens now plays rugby, she came to Lindenwood for the synchronized swimming team and has been in the pool nearly her entire life. The top tattoo shows a swimmer doing the butterfly stroke and contains Steven's favorite quote "Free your mind and dive in." The bottom shark tattoo came from a Naval officer's commencement speech when he said "don't let the fear of swimming with the sharks from stopping you to swim." But she did always want a shark tattoo, just to have a shark.
Photo by Kayla Drake
Steven's most simple tattoo is a tribute to her mom because her name is Star. Stevens said she is "a huge mom approval person" and asks her mom about all of her tattoos before getting them. but her mom still doesn't like the fact that Stevens has multiple large tattoos.
Photo by Kayla Drake
Currently, Stevens is a senior studying exercise science and dreams of being a strength and conditioning coach one day. In the meantime she plans to go into the military after college because she has been apart of ROTC throughout college. 
Photo by Kayla Drake
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About Kayla Drake 114 Articles
Kayla is our multimedia producer, so basically all things video and podcasts. She prefers to cover human interest stories because she believes we learn best by hearing personal testimonies of grief, passion, tribulation and activism. When Kayla is not editing or writing, most likely she is either hiking or eating. And by eating she doesn’t mean fast food, college grub, but the St. Louis restaurant scene (which is to die for). She is a proud St. Louisan and is passionate about being a part in the city's redemption. Look for the girl with the stickered out water bottle on campus and say hi.

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