But who exactly sports this type of body art and what they’ve chosen to wear for life has been clarified with the latest Harris Poll which surveyed 2,225 U.S. adults online from October 14-19, 2015.
Tattoos can take any number of forms, from animals to quotes to cryptic symbols, and appear in all sorts of spots on our bodies, some visible in everyday life, others not so much. But one thing becomes quickly apparent with this Harris Poll, more and more Americans are getting them.
Tattooed bikers are in good company with about three in ten Americans (29%) having at least one tattoo, up from roughly two in ten (21%) just four years ago. What’s more, few inked Americans stop at one; among those with any tattoos, seven in ten (69%) have two or more proving the old adage, 'tattoos can be addictive'.
Tattoos are especially prevalent among younger Americans, with nearly half of Millennials (47%) and over a third of Gen Xers (36%) saying they have at least one, compared to 13% of Baby Boomers and one in ten Matures (10%).
Not surprisingly, Millennials and Gen Xers (37% and 24%) are also exponentially more likely than their elders (6% Baby Boomers, 2% Matures) to have multiple tattoos.
It appears the least likely place to find tattooed neighbors would be in the suburbs with only 25% of Suburbanites sporting ink compared to those who live in Rural (35%) and Urban (33%) areas. If those neighbors have children, the odds of them having a tattoo go up with those with kids in the household much more likely than those without, sporting at least one tattoo (43% vs. 21%).
One thing tattoos don’t hint at is which political party the inked person will vote for, with little difference between Republicans, Democrats and Independents (27%, 29% and 28%).
Regrets, had a few
But another tattoo adage, 'regret may set in as the ink fades' is also proving true. Just as the popularity of tattoos is on the rise, so are those who regret having them. This part of the survey was collected in an open-ended manner, in other words there was no list to choose from but the answer was truly free-style.
Though a strong majority still has no regrets, nearly one fourth (23%) of those with tattoos say they ever regret getting one, up from 14% in 2012. Top-ranked regrets include:
- Too young when they got the tattoo
- Personality changes/Doesn’t fit my present lifestyle
- Got someone’s name that I’m no longer with
- Poorly done/Doesn’t look professional
- Tattoo is no longer meaningful
Why people get inked is as interesting as anything else found in this recently released Harris Poll.
Blowing away the derogatory term of ‘Tramp Stamp’, a third (33%) of inked adults indicate having a tattoo has made them feel sexy (up marginally from 30% in 2012). Roughly a third also say that it makes them feel attractive (32%), though it’s worth noting that this percentage has grown considerably from 21% in 2012.
Just over a quarter (27%) say it makes them feel more rebellious and two in ten (20%) feel more spiritual as a result of their tattoos. Fewer say it makes them feel more intelligent (13%), respected (13%), employable (10%) and healthy (9%).
Perhaps the more important learning, though, is that most say that having a tattoo hasn’t made them feel any different on any of these measures.
We started this article noting tattoos have become more acceptable in our modern world, but acceptance doesn’t mean there’s no judgement or perceptions by the un-inked of those who are.
Bearing in mind, these are the opinions of those who do not have any tattoos. Nearly half (45%) feel those with tattoos are more rebellious than those without, though it’s worth noting that this percentage continues to decline (54% held this belief in 2008; 50% in 2012), likely a byproduct of tattoos’ continued trend toward the mainstream.
On the other end of the scale, nearly half feel those with tattoos are less attractive (47%) than those without, 44% feel they’re less sexy and a third (34%) believe them to be less respectable.
Meanwhile, between a quarter and three in ten think those with tattoos are less intelligent (29%), healthy (28%) and spiritual (25%).
Regardless of what the non-tattooed public feel about those who are inked, overall it doesn’t seem to impact how they are viewed in the professional world.
Further driving home the message of tattoos going mainstream, majorities of Americans would be comfortable seeing a person with visible tattoos serve in roles across a diverse range of industries and professions. Comfort ranges from highs of 86% for athletes, 81% for IT technicians and 78% for chefs, to lower majorities of 59% each for primary school teachers and judges, and even 58% for presidential candidates.
More specifically, many Americans, particularly Millennials would be “extremely comfortable” with someone with visible tattoos in these professions, including police officers (39%, including 54% of Millennials), real estate brokers (37%/52%), bankers (36%/50%), doctors (35%/51%), judges (34%/49%) and presidential candidates (32%/46%).
That’s all well and good, but parents are likely to have a whole different set of standards when it comes to who interacts with their kids, right? Wrong. In fact, a separate poll of parents with kids under 18 in the household found that strong majorities are comfortable (roughly four in ten of them “extremely” so) with people sporting visible tattoos serving in a number of positions that involve interacting with the kiddos:
- Coach (81% comfortable, 39% extremely comfortable),
- High school teacher (75%, 39%)
- Camp counselor (73%, 36%)
- Sitter/Caregiver (73%, 37%)
- Primary school teacher (71%, 37%)
- Pediatrician (71%, 40%)
What conclusions should be taken away from this survey? An interesting indicator to the future attitude towards tattoos could be found in the category of how many tattoos an inked person had.
Just to give an indication of those who fall into the category of five or more tattoos, overall 7% of those surveyed did, but dominating this particular question were Millennials with 15%. In fact, that number grows larger as the age of the person surveyed is younger leading us to wonder if the acceptance of ink will not only continue to grow, but so will the number of tattoos will as well.
What do our readers feel about tattoos? Where do you fit into the above numbers?