The tattooed arm of a GenX Director of Public Services

In my study of generations, few words hold the power to evoke such a different visceral response from all four generations of adults like the word “Tattoo.” From the oldest member of our dominant culture to the youngest, each generation has a strong opinion on tattoos.

To wrap our minds around the cultural phenomenon that tattoos have become, I examined some recent data. According to the website, in the US:

  • We spend $1.65 billion—yes, that’s BILLION—annually on tattoos.
  • There are 21,000 tattoo parlors.
  • The average cost of a small tattoo is $45 or $145/hour of the tattoo artist’s time.
  • 14% of the population have tattoos
  • 36% of adults ages 18-25 have tattoos
  • 40% of the 26-40 age group has a tattoo
  • Of the group sporting tattoos, 32% say they are addicted to ink
  • 17% say they have some regret after their tattoo
  • 11% have had one or more tattoos removed
  • There are 26+ tattoo shows globally

Tattoos are no longer a passing fancy. They are big business in the younger, (GenXer or Millennial) postmodern generations and are spreading to older generations like wildfire! They are only getting bigger, better and more acceptable as younger people move into positions of authority in the workplace.

The problem of tattoos

Yet, I have seen families divided about this topic again and again. Perhaps your son or daughter wants a tattoo and you disagree. You say, “Wait till you’re 18 years old and decide for yourself.” But you secretly hope that the opportunity and the cash never happen at the same time. Or maybe, you are nearly sick with disappointment because one of your children came home from college with tattoos.

My friend, Cheri Gregory, wrestled her own judgments about her daughter’s tattoos privately, at first. She, along with her daughter, blogged publicly about their process in a series entitled Tattuesday. If someone else’s tattoos are causing you pain, I encourage you to click on over to read this series for a kickstart on your own healing. Or watch her daughter’s videos by clicking on the links below. I could not write a better resource than the one Cheri has already written.

Tattoo Discussions

Tattoos are not going away! We must resolve to look at the beauty in body art and accept our younger generations who love them, or risk alienating them. I have found almost all people with tattoos, no matter how scary they look, are happy to answer thoughtful questions about their body art.

“What is the significance of the skull on your arm?” (I never thought those would come out of my mouth!) When asked respectfully, has yielded many responses that gave me insight into the GenX and Millennial generations. Join me in the next few weeks as we continue to learn about the generations through their tattoos.

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