Tattoos are all the rage. Cool, sexy, controversial and eye-catching, a tattoo makes a statement that a thousand words can not. It is little surprise, then, that 36 percent of adults between the ages of 18 and 25 sport at least one of these markings somewhere on their bodies. However, many bearers of these colorful skin brandings lose their enthusiasm for tattoos as middle age sets in, Is this simply a natural conservatism asserting itself as responsibilities and worries accumulate? Or is it the result of the image getting distorted as skin loosens? Whether the decision is based on temperament or aesthetics, there is no denying that many who get tattoos experience some change of mind later on.
Who Has Tattoos…and Why?
In addition to the “GenNext” age group referenced above, 40 percent of millenials and others up to 40 years of age have tattooed their skin. No longer just the province of Marines and longshoremen, tattoos mark 30 percent of college graduates, though blue-collar workers remain 60 percent of all recipients. Of the general population, one in five adults has at least one, according to a recent Harris poll. Reasons for getting tattoos in the first place range from artistic appreciation to group identification to just plain youthful angst or alienation. Up to 51 percent indicated that the tattoo made them “feel attractive, sexy or strong” a representative for an Austin tattoo removal clinic stated. Sixteen percent got them for spiritual reasons. Interestingly, 86 percent of respondents harbored no regrets about their tattoos. Yet, the number of removal requests is climbing.
Regrets, We Have a Few
While the diehard tattoo-keepers are a vast majority, the number of tattooed with buyer’s remorse has grown steadily. As of 2015, 23 percent of inked people report regretting their markings. Expressing various reasons for their change of heart, those surveyed gave the following as the top five factors affecting their mindset:
- The tattoo lost its meaning for them.
- They were dissatisfied with the artistic quality.
- It was the name of a person who is no longer significant.
- The tattoo no longer signifies the bearer’s personality.
And the most frequent reason given: Too immature when the tattoo was acquired.
Public perceptions also came into play when the Harris study was conducted, questioning original motivations to get tattoos. Most respondents did not see any distinctions between the tattooed and those without, but the minority that did see differences noted the following about those with the body art:
- Less sexy
- More rebellious
- Less attractive
- Less spiritual
- Less intelligent
The High Cost of Tattoos Lost
Ironically, the removal of tattoos is becoming a bigger financial boon than their application. In the UK (where dissatisfaction with tattoos is even higher than the U.S.), the Telegraph reports a 440 percent increase in revenues for tattoo removal from just 10 years ago. Some are following the examples of celebrities who—ironically—inspired the tattoo trend in the first place. The newspaper also refers to an employer survey that cited over 70 percent of business owners who registered an unfavorable view of job applicants due to body etchings. All said, laser tattoo removal can cost as much as 10 times the amount of getting one (receiving a small tattoo might run $45). The New York Times reports that costs can depend on frequency of treatments, which is diminishing as removal technology grows more precise. Other price variables center on whether a medical doctor is employed for the task or not.
Will Tattoos Lose Their Appeal?
Although many are erasing their tattoos as an act of epidermal repentance, the etchings are still enormously popular and parlors are in no danger of being obsolete. Still, enthusiasm has ebbed over the last decade or so. Those prospects considering their first tattoo should do their homework, and perhaps consult with some of the remorseful.