Tattoos – The Millennial Identity Crisis

Tattoos have been around for thousands of years, but a recent spike in tattoo culture has forced experts to consider whether there is an underlying catalyst as to why. Both tattoos and tattoo aftercare products have dramatically risen since the 1970s. In the 1960s, there were only about d85fc3866ba2d4b13054ef1364d95f23500 tattoo artists in the USA compared to over 10000 by 1990. Aftercare sales had equally risen in proportion and forced experts to try and figure out why tattoos had, seemingly overnight, become a sensation.

It is estimated that almost 20% of Americans have tattoos – thats a whopping 65 million people, almost the entire population of the UK! Of this, 40% were born within this millennia (millennials), prompting experts to question why such is the case. One professor from the University of Arkansas says that society is now both “fragmented” and “chaotic” and that we are now able to “re-create identities so easily.” Essentially, this take seems to assert that many young people try and escape their own reality by having an alternate one in the form of a tattoo.

Other studies have found that different people create this false sense of reality in a variety of ways. For example, some people use institutions such as religion whereas others use material possessions such as cars and houses. Based on this, it could indeed be possible that others may use tattooing as a way of creating a similar sort of situation.

Of course, it is particularly difficult to determine the role of tattooing in this way due to the sheer number of people who buy tattoos and tattoo aftercare products due to spiritual or memorable experiences in their lives. If 40% of this group are indeed millennials, then we have to keep in perspective that 60% are not.

One study attempted to draw a link between the fleeting nature of employment and the permanence of tattooing. It was found that the average job only lasts 4 years. Based on this, sociologists argue than in order for people to cope with the constantly changing nature of their professional lives, having a permanent tattoo gives them a sense of stability. Albeit far fetched, it really does make sense when you put some thought into it!

So what do you think? Are tattoos just a way of immortalising an important experience or message? Or do some people really have a deeper psychological attachment to them?