The Tattoo Dilemma

Tattoos are becoming more common by the day in American and European society, with more people than ever having a tattoo of some nature. With so many people having a tattoo of some kind, it’s odd that the stigma around tattoos has remained majority unchanged for the past few years.

Who Has Tattoos?

With tattoos popularity increasing in the last 15 years, it is understandable that younger generations would generally have a higher ratio of tattoos. With a higher correlation of tattoos, we can also assume a differing stigma around them within different age groups, but that doesn't seem to be the case. The data below was compiled from research studies of the American population.

  • Silent generation - The silent generation (1928 - 1945) were for the most part completely against tattoos of any nature, with less than 2% of the population sporting ink of some kind, the stigma of tattoos was still very prevalent and open. It is somewhat difficult to get an accurate read on the real number of tattoos in this time as most of those who had tattoos, would not openly admit it for fear of the stigma involved.
  • Baby boomers - the baby boomer generation (1946 - 1964) is likely where some part of the popularity started. 13% of baby boomers have a tattoo of some nature. There is still a clear break here, as the stance against tattoos is still strong amongst the majority of baby boomers.
  • Generation X - Generation X (1965 - 1980) represent a big leap forward in tattoo culture. 36% of generation X have a tattoo of some nature, but this also represented a mindset shift, as more than 50% of generation X do not strictly oppose tattoos. While not all of generation X may want tattoos, the stigma around tattoos started to fade.
  • Millennials - Millennials (1981 - 1996) started to bring tattoos to popularity, with 46% of the population having at least 1 tattoo. Tattoos have become part of the social norm for millennials and has sparked rapid growth in the tattoo industry.
  • Generation Z - Generation Z (1997 - 2012) seems to be a reversal of the trend. Studies conducted on social media of generation Z who are old enough to get a tattoo (18 - 25) showed that more than 60% of participants were strictly against tattoos, making for the most stigma seen since baby boomers. It is still too early to make definite statements around generations Z stance on tattoos, as most of generation Z is not yet at the legal age to get a tattoo. This could, however, paint a picture of tattoo stigma returning more in future generations.

The Stigma Is Skewed

When considering the stigma around tattoos, it's safe to assume that the statistics of those who are not against tattoos are considerably lower than real reflection. People tend not to judge others while data is being recorded.

This is understandable and to be considered when reviewing the figures. The one shocking result is that the group of people who hold stigma to the tattoos are not just those without tattoos. In a study by the Journal of Social Psychology, researchers found that individuals with tattoos still held a negative view of others with tattoos. Researchers pointed towards a dissociation between others and self, with some tattooed individuals having a hypocritically negative view towards others.

Location Matters

The stigma around tattoos can change dramatically on the placement of said tattoo. While today most people do not have a problem with tattoos, the stigma can still be very real if a tattoo is in a place where it is still visible in formal attire like hands, neck, or face. Just like betting at it’s a gamble how people feel about it.

Should You Get A Tattoo?

It would be a lie to say there isn't still a negative stigma attached to having tattoos, but there has never been a better time than right now. Tattoos are a fantastic art form and expression, if you do want a tattoo, the only person you should seek validation from is yourself.

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