Tattoo You?

November 14, 2017

Nearly 40% of Americans born after 1980 have a tattoo—and 25% have a piercing some place other than an earlobe, Pew Research found in a recent study.

Indeed, according to Statista Survey, which also has looked at the body art phenomenon, only 39% of Americans are on the non-inked side of the fence.

Of those who say they have not gotten a tattoo yet, but are considering one, Statista says that the most common reason for hesitating is apprehension about the pain involved, followed by another anxiety— fear of falling out of love with the tattoo as they age.

At the top of the list of reasons for getting one was “to express my style and opinion” (38%). In second place was the similar, “to express my personal opinion” (37%). Making up the top three, family makes its way into the picture, with 34% saying their tattoo pays tribute to their children.

What’s more,  some want an even more radical body marking, using a number of, ahem, “cutting-edge” ways to express themselves, the Pew researchers report—including branding, scarification (scratching, etching or cutting to produce a design in the skin), or subdural implants (placing objects under the skin for ornamentation).

Nearly every state has some type of body art law, but regulations vary widely. Most states do agree on one thing: age limits. At least 45 states prohibit minors from getting tattoos, and 38 states prohibit body piercing and tattooing minors without parental permission, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The sharp increase in Hepatitis C cases over the last few years has intensified states’ concern about sterile and sanitized needles and equipment and associated health and safety training.

The American Red Cross requires someone who has had a tattoo to wait one year to donate blood if the tattoo was applied in a state that does not regulate tattoo facilities — Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia. No waiting period is required if the tattoo was applied in a state that requires tattoo shops to use sterile needles and single-use ink.

Finally, are body art fans welcomed in the workplace? Not always, but Skinfo.com published a list last year of the companies who would welcome inked employees—among them, Whole Foods,Sally’s Beauty Supply, Trader Joe’s, Burlington Coat Factory, Ikea, Forever 21, Staples, Best Buy, Home Depot and Lowe’s.

Research contact: info@pewresearch.org