Friday, February 3, 2012

Teen Trends: Tattoos

Tattoos have been around for centuries, but in the past ten years, body art has become an increasingly popular trend among teenagers.

Of course they are. I mean, look who’s “doing it.”










Tattoos are even popular in books!









Some other interesting tidbits on tattoos


“A 2010 Pew Research study found that nearly 40 percent of young people between the ages of 18 and 29 have tattoos, and of those, half have two to five tattoos. The study also found that parents increasingly support their kids' decisions to get tattoos.” (ABC Good Morning America)

Which is interesting, given the law:

“A number of states have laws prohibiting these practices on minors without written parental consent. At least 39 states have laws prohibiting minors from getting tattoos. Thirty-one states have laws that prohibit both body piercing and tattooing on minors without parental permission. Many of the laws across the country establish financial penalties, prison time or both for violators. Most of the laws define 'violator' as the person who performed the tattoo or piercing." (National Conference of State Legislatures)


So what’s up with the trend? Why are so many teens looking to get permanently inked?

I was a wee bit curious. So I did a little investigating—with my own students.
Here’s what I found.


Do they have tattoos?


Considering the legal age for tattoos in North Carolina is 18, (can’t even get one with parent consent at 16) I wasn’t expecting a whole lot of yeses here. Of the 55 students (ranging in age from 14 to 19) who answered my questions, twelve (yes—12!) have tattoos already. A lot of them have one, but some have two, three, four. I even have one student with thirteen tattoos. Yes, I really did just say that. 13 tattoos!

Oh, yeah. And I can tell you that not all of them are 18. I didn’t ask HOW, but I surmised the possible loop hole jumpers. There are states that will allow sixteen year olds to get tattoos with parental consent. I’m certain there are folks that will tattoo a minor without worrying over the consequences. Or *gasp* some of my students just might have a fake ID.


What are they of?


A flower vein, a geisha, a spiritual piece, skull rebel flag, horse shoes, dove outline, scriptures, words of encouragement, hometown, quotes, Mom’s name, peace sign, one is for my stepson, name of my dog that passed away, tribal bleeding heart, 666

Oh, and one of my students (not eighteen) doesn’t have a tattoo, but has a scarification brand.




This is not her brand, but the math teacher found this one to be, er...intriguing. And while I hurt just looking at it, apparently they are in style.

Huh.



So. Why? Any significance in the tattoo?



(Mom’s name tattoo) because my mom means everything to me

Life lessons

Just because

It symbolizes peace

My quote has meaning

Because I love tattoos and they all have their different meanings

(Dog that passed away tattoo) she was one year older than me which would have been sixteen at the time. And we had the same birthday.


Most of the tattoos were planned purchases (very few impulsive buys) and most of my inked kids don’t regret their tattoo decision.



And what if they don’t have one? Do they want one?


An overwhelming majority said yes. Why?

To express myself

I like the way they look

Remembrance of my grandfather

To symbolize important people in my life

‘cause my girlfriend would think it’s hot

Something for my kids when I have them

It’s the same as makeup. You try to make a statement

I want to express myself with something inspiring I can look at every day

To show where I came from and my beliefs

Because they are pretty fashionable and self expressive

It looks cool

Everyone in my family has the same tattoo



What do they want one of?


Stars representing my grandparent

One for my friend who died

Capricorn symbol on my toe

Live. Love. Laugh.

Christian fish

The Triforce from Legend of Zelda. It reminds me of who I am

Peace sign

Harry Potter glasses and scar

An anchor with “I refuse to sink” (this one cited her determination and drive as a reason for this tattoo)

Dragon—because dragons are cool

A heart with an angel wing holding it—it will say “my guardian angels” with grandparents initials in the heart

Naval tattoo

A flag wrapped around a cardinal

The Beatles



Overall feeling on tattoos?


I think there should be meaning behind it

Your choice if you want to get one. People whose body is covered isn’t personally attractive to me

I think they’re a great way to express what you have been through, and what type of person you are

It’s self expression. I don’t think it should be looked down upon.

Be smart about them

I see your body as a canvas, waiting for you to paint it, waiting to be shaded, colored, pierced, waiting to express your way of life. People look at tattoos as it’s a bad thing but I feel it’s a way to show your story, a way to show your thanks, what keeps you going, what makes you different from that one person in the coffee shop. It’s a way to show that you conquered something or maybe gained back control of your life. Some people miss these things when they see people covered in tats. They don’t take the time to understand. This is people’s way of loving themselves

Express yourself. Just don’t go overboard

I like them and I don’t like that you can’t get jobs if you have them

A few is alright. Three or more is a little too much! (Agent A: Oops.)

They are good if you don’t regret them

I like it to the point where it’s not distracting

I don’t like how people get a million of them on their body

Make sure you know for a fact that’s what you want

Addicting

I don’t mind them. They tell a lot about that person and they tell stories.


This Operative’s standpoint: I think there will always be a question as to whether teens are mature enough to make such a permanent decision. But the insight and the thought out answers provided lead me to conclude that some of them are. And let’s face it. I’m sure you know at least one adult who's gotten a tattoo on a bet (or dare) or branded themselves during a night of, er…spirits and indulgence.

And, well. I have four myself. Every one of those tattoos bought after the ripe old age of twenty-four. Every one planned. Every one with significance. Sounds like some of these teens can go two for three on my reasoning.

So, how do you feel about this teen trend? Do YOU have tattoos? Or know any teens with them? Tell us in the comments.


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