A Harris Research Poll done in 2015 reviewed tattoo statistics from our current generations.  They looked at tattoos as a cultural phenomenon effecting different generations and organized them by age and whether they had a tattoo or not. The current generation of young adult’s (called  the “Millennials”) adoption of tattoos has been unprecedented in history. Almost half (47%) of Americans age 18 to 29 had at least one tattoo. There are decidedly wide variations in these numbers with tattoos as you travel the country with urban and rural areas having 35% and 33% respectively, and suburbanites having a much lower 25%.

Of the people with tattoos, 7 out of 10 have more than one and 2 out of 10 have 6 tattoos or more. It seems that once the tattoo flood gate is open, its difficult to stop! Many report the decision to get the first tattoo was foreboding even if it was done without much forethought or planning.  After the first tattoo, the decision to get subsequent tattoos was much easier for a number of reasons.

More demographics

According to the poll, generational differences in the adoption of tattoos have persisted with Millennials (age 18 to 35) at 47% with one or more tattoos, Generation X (age 36 to 50) at 36%, Baby Boomers at 13%, and those older (age 70 +) at 10%.  Generally there are only minor regional differences across the country with a slight increase in tattoos in the south. And for the first time, woman have passed men in the adoption of tattoos (31%) vs. 27% in men.

Tattoo Regret is Up

Do you regret getting your tattoo?

With the increased number of people getting tattoos, there was also a sharp increase in tattoo regret. the table below shows the number going from 14% in 2012 to 23% in the most recent study. . . that’s a 10 point increase.  Now, one in four regret their tattoo.  The number one reason? “Too young when I got the tattoo”

This Harris study looked at the acceptance and perception of  tattoos. They asked a series of questions about how a person felt about themselves and others with and without tattoos. Overall people with tattoos were seen as no different than those without, but when there was a difference, they were seen as:

  • more rebellious
  • less attractive
  • less sexy
  • less spiritual
  • less respectable
  • less intelligent
  • and less healthy

Finally, the pollsters looked at our comfort with visible tattoos serving in different professions.  As expected, the comfort level varies with profession.  People are very comfortable with athletes having tattoos (86%), whereas only 58% were comfortable with a presidential candidate having a tattoo.

In the end, you have to consider what professions appeal to you, and how you will be accepted in those rolls. Your professional success hinges on your clients comfort in whatever roll you assume. If four out of ten of my patients are uncomfortable with my visible tattoo, that can have a serious impact on my practice!