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Gen Y Inked

Love Yourself Tattoo

We’re constantly in communication with Millennials about what trends they’re seeing and one of the most common responses we’ve heard in recent months is the increase in young people with tattoos. This generation seeks to stand out and tattoos are just one of the ways in which they’re expressing themselves. We’ve also noticed a rise in self-expression through nail art, hair trends and colors, and piercings, but tattoos are the most permanent way for people to show off something that’s meaningful to them and display their creativity.

In a recent mobile Pulse survey, we asked 270 Millennials ages 18-34 if they have a tattoo and while only 23% say they have a tattoo, 3 in 10 (31%) say they want to get one. While 43% of Millennials say tattoos aren’t for them, many mentioned that it’s becoming more socially acceptable to have tattoos. This is in part due to increased media exposure — TV shows like “L.A. Ink” and the tattoo competition series “Ink Master” — as well as more young people whose parents have tattoos. 

Millennials value relationships and experiences, and tattoos are a way to reflect these things on themselves. Moreover, Millennials share much of their personal lives publicly today via social media, so to them, tattoos are another way to show what matters to them. As a 22-year-old female put it, “I wanted to express myself…on myself.” This idea is also echoed by a 23-year-old male who said that “many young people are seeing [tattoos] as effective for communicating their personality.”

Furthermore, many young people aren’t getting tattoos to be rebellious, but rather to highlight what they care about. Many Millennials with tattoos explained that they’ve gotten words or symbols inked on their bodies that relate to their family or close friends. Several explained that they’ve gotten tattoos in memory of loved ones or to mark momentous occasions in their lives. Others indicated that they’ve gotten matching tattoos with family members or close friends to signify their bond, and some have even gotten tattoos of lyrics that resonate with them as music is one of the most important mediums in their lives. This generation wants to be unique, as many Millennials with tattoos pointed out, but most of all, they’re getting tattoos that represent who they are. This is best evoked through a 21-year-old female who said, “A tattoo is merely a form of expression such as a painting is. My tattoos reflect who I am as a person and what I stand for without me having to come right out and say it.”

Millennials seek to make their mark on society, and they’re also making their mark on themselves.