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  • Writer's pictureRomain Berg

The Psychology of Tattoos: 7 Motives for Modern-Day Tattooing

Updated: Sep 24


Beautiful woman with tattoos on arm against pink background

The psychology of tattoos is a subject that's worth exploring, considering that tattoos are gradually becoming accepted in the U.S. Even some lawmakers now flaunt visible tattoos that bear a personal meaning.


Before you jump on the trend, have you decided where to get your first or next ink? You should schedule an appointment with the artists at Wingnut Tattoo and Piercing. We have extensive knowledge of what people want in their tattoos and can bring your tattoo ideas to reality.


How Society Perceives Tattoos: Before and After

Tattoos have been a historically controversial topic as different cultural groups have unique perceptions about the art. In Africa, it's a general belief that making alterations to the body could fend off evil. Meanwhile, Japanese culture regards tattooed individuals as offenders who should be ostracized.


When tattooing got into the U.S., it was considered fit for bikers, sailors, and misfits. Even today, a tattooed person may still face negative stereotypes from older people who associate the art with criminal lifestyles.


This perception is gradually changing as people become open-minded, viewing body art as a form of self-expression. In a survey, the Pew Research Center revealed that 32% of American adults have a tattoo, with 22% of them having more than one. Below, we'll examine the reasons behind the new wave of getting a tattoo.


Why Tattoos Are Becoming Popular in the Western Culture

People get tattoos for different reasons, from self-expression to marking a milestone. Here are a few reasons for tattoo popularity in Western culture.


Expressing Your Identity

Just as people express their innermost thoughts, feelings, and desires through music and poetry, the younger generation uses tattoos to display their personalities, values, and beliefs. For instance, a nature lover may have a tree tattoo, while a rock and roll fan may display a guitar or drum set to show their allegiance to what they believe in.


Commemorating Significant Events

Tattoos represent memories of someone or something special. It could be past experiences like a breakup or the loss of a close friend or family member. Such tattoos can help you accept the loss and move on. It could also represent a happy event, like having a child or getting married.


Wingnut Tattoo can help you craft custom tattoo designs to reflect your personal narrative.


Aesthetics and Beautification

Psychology of Tattoos - Positive Asian woman looking at camera and smiling

A tattoo is an incredible aesthetic creation on the human skin. Some people use it to decorate their bodies so they can stand out from the crowd or make a clear statement about their beliefs. Others use it to enhance their beauty, which could go from a discreet star behind the ear to a full-color tattoo on the arm.


Masking Scars or Imperfections

Certain skin imperfections, like varicose veins, scars, stretch marks, moles, and cellulite, can make you feel less attractive and confident. However, getting a tattoo for cosmetic purposes can help you feel confident again. In this case, the artist will work around the scar or altered portion of the skin instead of over it.


Scars take time to heal, and inking them could cause more pain. Also, it's advisable to consult an experienced tattoo artist when trying to mask skin imperfections to reduce the risk of unwanted injury.


Telling Your Story

Like a life diary, your body is a living testimony of what you've been through, and tattooing helps you to share your personal story. It's a non-verbal language – visible and speaks more than words.


Also, a tattoo is a great conversation starter, as a stranger might be eager to know the symbolic meaning attached to it.


Coping with Mental Health Conditions

Depression and mental health concept - semicolon tattoo on wrist

Tattoos have positive effects on self-perception. They boost your self-esteem and make you feel in control of your life, especially when you're struggling with body image issues. As a result, a mental health professional can recommend tattooing as a coping strategy for mental health problems like social physique anxiety and depression.


Social Resistance

In some social settings, it's a taboo to have visible tattoos. A person may decide to get tattooed to rebel against cultural or religious norms.


For example, lesbians adopted the labrys symbol, a double-blade axe, in the 1970s to show their non-conformity with societal norms. Also, females today use tattoos to showcase femininity since the tattoo culture has always been male-dominated.


Getting a tattoo is a way to deviate from the expected appearance of people in professional roles. In this regard, lawmakers, business people, and politicians are displaying tattoos in opposition to what's acceptable within those professions.


Final Thoughts on the Psychology of Tattoos

Tattooing is an ancient practice that holds cultural significance across tribes. Yet, it has witnessed the days of negative attitudes towards those bearing the body art. However, open-minded young adults of today are succeeding at making tattoos visible and acceptable.


Whether you're looking for a means of self-expression, marking significant events, boosting your self-esteem, or telling your personal story, the psychology of tattoos depends on the individual involved.


Why not opt for a safe tattooing experience by choosing Wingnut Tattoo and Piercings? Our team of artists is licensed, passionate, and takes pride in their craft. You can schedule an appointment now to discuss your tattoo ideas and preferences.


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