Reflecting Love and Culture —
Her Way

By Olivia Lin • May 5th, 2008 • Category: 'Sup Wit Dat Tat?

Cindy Chung, a 20-year-old Kingsborough College media major, stood scowling behind the counter of Yolatos at Grand Central. Only 35 minutes until closing. Her boss stood less then 10 feet away, but Cindy’s dark brown eyes kept flicking toward the clock impatiently.

She does what she wants – and that includes the body art hidden under her orange Yolato’s shirt and neon green apron.

For her 18th birthday, Cindy gave herself a five-pointed star etched between her shoulder blades. Her mom scolded her for days, Cindy recalled, but the tattoo symbolized finally being legal and independent. Plus, she added simply, “I just love stars.”

Two years later, Cindy embellished each point of the star with a personal icon. There was the number 13 in Chinese to represent luck and Friday the 13th (the day she got tattooed); a red heart for Paul, her boyfriend of two years; the Coney Island jokester face for her beloved home borough, Brooklyn; and a handshake for friendship. She also chose her favorite animal, a penguin, for its warm and cute personality. “Because I have a warm and cute personality,” she said, “…when I’m not at Yolato’s.”

Cindy at Coney Island in the summer
Cindy at Coney Island in the summer

As she flipped the door sign to “Closed,” Cindy explained that as a New York-born Chinese with traditional parents, she has learned to go her own way. Paul, who is Polish, is a perfect example. Her parents wanted her to date a “good Chinese boy,” but Cindy kept dating Paul and now, her parents have accepted their relationship. Her next tattoo will be a band of New York roses and Asian peonies around her upper arm symbolizing her Chinese American background.

And it won’t be the last. These personal marks of her feelings and values are addicting, she said as she locked up. “I don’t know when I’ll stop getting tattoos, but it’s definitely not going to be anytime soon.”

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Olivia Lin is a junior in the Macaulay Honors Program at Hunter College, where she majors in Media Studies and minors in Asian American Studies. At Hunter, she is involved with the Coalition for the Revitalization of Asian American Studies at Hunter (CRAASH), and Circle K, a community service club.
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