The tattoo world has taken a big leap in popularity in recent years. While tattoos were still known for criminal and deviant behavior in the 1800s, more and more contemporary people have decorated their bodies with ink. An estimated 38 percent of adults between the ages of 18 and 29 have at least one tattoo.
Around this growing love of tattoos, a study was conducted at the University of the Free State in South Africa. Psychologist Luzelle Naudé and her team set out to investigate how university students felt about tattoos.
This survey showed that 78% of the students themselves and 92% of the students’ parents did not have tattoos. However, 74% of participants had their friends there. Almost half, namely 47% of the participants considered getting a tattoo themselves.
Primarily, 25% of participants who wanted to get a tattoo wanted it to have a personal meaning. Some of the participants (12%) believed that tattoos are a way of expression and an extension of their bodies. Other participants, in turn, found tattoos to be an attractive art form.
The participants who preferred not to get a tattoo had social and cultural factors and religion as reasons. Mainly, the latter was the most common reason for not getting a tattoo. Participants said that in their religion, the body was a temple, which they liked to keep clean.
Also for fear of the opinions of those around them, students would not get a tattoo. For example, they think that their friends and family would disapprove and that they would not find work as easily if they were covered in tattoos.
10% of participants expressed concern toward the sustainability of tattoos. Indeed, they found tattoos attractive on young people, but the idea of still walking around with them as an old man or lady horrifying. Also, a small proportion of students were afraid of needles and pain.
A very small percentage of the number of participants found tattoos as a whole simply unattractive. One participant responded when we asked him/her if they would ever consider getting a tattoo themselves, “Would you put a bumper sticker on a Ferrari?
When asked what they thought of others’ tattoos, opinions were divided. The majority of students (54%) responded positively, 18% had mixed feelings, 13% responded negatively and 15% had no opinion.
The students with negative feelings about tattoos stated that tattoos were ugly and cheap. They saw tattooed people as dangerous, satanic, non-religious and rebellious. One interviewee noted that people who get tattoos only do so to rebel and want a sense of belonging or to attract attention.
The students with a positive view of tattoos saw people with tattoos as fashionable, trendy, attractive, brave, creative and strong. One participant said that people with tattoos are the most real people you will ever meet.
The students who had mixed feelings often accepted tattoos with personal meaning, but other types of tattoos less so. Also, these participants often depended on how many tattoos one had and were of the opinion that if you are completely covered in tattoos people will take you less seriously at work.