There was a time when tattoos were only for sailors and pagan bikers. Ink symbolized rebelliousness, gangs, and a low social class. But in recent years tattoos have become de-stigmatized. They have gone from being groddy and low class to hip and popular. It is due, in part, to the generational and cultural trends of the Millennial generation.
“Moreover, one tattoo isn’t enough for many Millennials. While 31% of tattooed Millennials have just one tattoo, half have two to five tattoos. And fully 18% have six or more. Among adults ages 30 and older who have tattoos, nearly half (47%) have just one. Only 9% say they have six or more tattoos.”
Millennials find identity in body art; it is one of the few traits that separate them along the generational divide. According to Pew, 38% of Millennial have a tattoo compared to just 15% of Boomers.
Tattoos are also finding their way into acceptance on the corporate level. Corporations like Google and Ford are easing up on dress code policies regarding tattoos. This trend is due mainly to the entrance of Gen Xers and Millennial’s into the work force.
To find out more about the growing popularity of tattoos, I talked to J.R. Tubbs of Flesh FX Tattoos, in Ashtabula, Ohio, during my cross-country motorcycle ride.
J.R. said we ink ourselves for many reasons. Tattoos are a form of self-expression. They often have symbolic meaning.
“They want to get something that means something to them, whether it’s a memorial tattoo, or a butterfly they are getting with their mom . . . people just want to feel good about themselves,” J.R. said.
Also there are tattoos for pure art, the designs are like a personal customization. For example, there are now black light tattoos that are in invisible to the naked eye. But when the tattoo is exposed to a black light, at a club for example, the design literally pops off the skin.
Millennials embrace tattoos because they are unaffected by the social taboo. To us it is simply a form of self-expression.