Nearly One Third of Americans Are Tattooed


For years we’ve stood upon our soapbox and harangued people to not just accept tattoos, but to adore them. According to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center our work has not gone unnoticed. Close to a third of Americans—32% to be exact—report having at least one tattoo. That may not seem like a lot of people, especially if you happen to have a tattoo-friendly workplace and social circle, but it’s the highest percentage ever recorded in this country. In 2010, a similar survey reported that 23% of people had one tattoo, although the researchers at Pew say that the two surveys shouldn’t be compared directly since the methodology has changed (a phone survey vs. an online survey), but I think even with the varied methods that the number still indicates a rise in proliferation of tattoos among the populace.

There were a lot of interesting results from the survey, most notably that more women (38%) have tattoos than men (27%). More than half of women under the age of 50 are tattooed, with 56% of women between the ages of 18-29 reporting to have at least one tattoo. What’s really eye-opening about these numbers is that they completely crush the stereotype that tattoos aren’t feminine. It’s nice to have proof in the form of statistics whenever confronted with that misogynistic nonsense, isn’t it?

Unless you’ve been living in a bunker for the past couple of decades, you’ve likely heard about how divided this nation is politically. Everything seems to break down along red states and blue states with people embracing and celebrating their political identity far more than in the past. Yet, tattooing seems to be the one thing that can bring everybody together—a third of Democrats (or left leaning) people have a tattoo, while 32% of Republicans (or right leaning) folks do. That one percentage point that gives the Democrats a slight edge is this guy. 

Unfortunately, it’s not all good news. It turns out that while society seems to be more accepting of tattooed people than it’s ever been in the past, there’s still a fair amount of prejudice against tattooed people. Across all demographics, 29% of people say that “seeing a tattoo on someone gives them a more negative than positive impression of that person.” These numbers tend to skew heavily towards people over 65 (40%), but are negative all around, with 19% of people 18-29 also reporting negative impressions. There’s a silver lining among the younger generation though, 12% of people 18-29 say tattoos leave a more positive than negative impression. And yeah, there’s some hope that the majority of people (66%) say that tattoos don’t matter towards their opinion of people, it’s still disheartening that there is still so much negativity out there.

One aspect of the polling that surprised me, but I guess really shouldn’t have, is that of Americans who don’t have any tattoos, 85% of them said they do not plan on ever getting tattooed. As someone who waited a long time to get my first tattoo, and who agonizes over tattoo ideas for months before getting inked, this number really surprised me. I figured there were a ton of people out there trying to figure out the perfect idea for that first tattoo, biding their time. I guess not.

The poll provides a lot more interesting insight about the relationship between Americans and tattoos, be sure to check it out for yourself.

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