Have Tattoos Become Too Mainstream?


Tattoos have been part of American culture since the 1870’s when the first tattoo shop opened it’s doors in New York City. I could continue on with the history lesson, but the most important part is that tattoos have never been more popular than now. I did a little survey this summer because I wanted to hear what other people’s opinions on tattoos in our culture. Among the 675 responses I got, 72% of people* had tattoos, and even more say that while they don’t currently have tattoos they want one and know what they would get.

*The national average of people with tattoos in the United States is roughly 30%, so this sample of mostly college-age women is very pro-ink.

I read through all the responses, and being a psychology major, I made some spreadsheets and crunched some numbers. I thought that even with the amazing number of responses I got I would have a more clear idea on people’s mainstream tattoo opinions. That didn’t happen. People are still divided on whether they love or hate tattoos.

Tattoos, just like fashion and beauty, go through phases where one look will become trendy, like an infinity symbol or a feather that dissolves into birds flying across your ribcage, but getting a tattoo means permanently scarring your body, and according to one of the responses “getting permanent ink in your skin is bad ass, being bad ass isn't mainstream.”

“The beauty is that they're all different and have different meanings.” one response said. For example, you’ve probably seen a semicolon tattoo, but everyone with a semicolon tattoo has a personal story being their ink, so 400 similar tattoos are vastly different to the people who put it on their skin.

Some people still have negative opinions of those who decide to get inked, but the general acceptance of tattoos has increased. My mom took the survey (hi mom!) and she admitted that tattoos mean something very different now than they did when she was growing up. Now she sees them as meaningful works of art.

Tattoos, while they may have grown in popularity, they’re not mainstream. Not everyone is comfortable permanently etching something on their body, and not everyone likes the look of tattoos. If you’re interested in getting inked, go for it! Tattoos are a beautiful and unique way to express a meaningful moment in your life or something you love.