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"While I am aware that, in the year 2016, people who have tattoos are probably not in gangs, ex-convicts, or drug users, yes, I admit it — when I see someone with lots of tattoos or very large tattoos, my perception of that person changes, and not for the better. I remember watching this mom at the mall. She was heavily tattooed. She looked like she was taking good care of her toddler, but I couldn't shake the feeling that mothers shouldn't look like that," Rob, an American man in his sixties, shares.
"Growing up, only 'shady' characters had tattoos. Times have changed, but yes, I do think twice when I see someone with lots of ink, and I wouldn't like my doctor, lawyer or accountant to have lots of tattoos," Inge, a middle-aged woman from Germany adds.
Me? I'm a woman of nearly 40 — yikes, time really does fly! — and I have more than a little ink. I got my first tattoo at 21. Though I've since had that one covered up because the quality wasn't great, I've steadily been adding to my collection ever since, slowly, but surely, and I love my tattoos. I'm all too aware that not everyone likes them, and that's fine with me. My tattoos are for me, after all, not for other people. Studies, however, show that not only do some people dislike ink or find it ugly, significant portions of people also think of women with tattoos as being more impulsive, less athletic, less motivated, less honest, and less generous.
The Latin word for tattoo is, in fact, "stigma". Tattoos have been used, in some form or another, at least since the Neolithic period. Though they did occasionally denote punishment, they were also used to signify status, belonging, or as talismans for healing. During more recent history, yes, tattoos were mostly for sailors, bikers, and those who were criminally active.
Now, though? Made popular by musicians, bikers, and shows such as Miami Ink, lots of people have tattoos. Housewives get them. Soldiers get them. Old ladies get them. Lawyers get them. In the US, more women have tattoos than men these days, at 23 vs 19 percent, and 40 percent of US residents aged between 26 and 40 had at least one tattoo by 2006, a survey revealed. Tattooing is among the fastest-growing business sectors, and the United States are home to over 20,000 tattoo studios!
What Do People Really Think Of Tattooed Women?
Aren't we done thinking of inked people as different these days? Apparently not!
- In a study led by UTSA graduate psychology major Lisa Oakes, male and female psychology students were asked to assess a mixed-ethnicity woman. In some pictures, she had virgin skin. In others, she had tattoos. Though the participants generally had positive impressions of the woman regardless of whether she was shown with tattoos, she was deemed to be more open to sex without commitment and less selective in those pictures where she had ink.
- A 2013 study published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior revealed that women with butterfly tattoos on their lower backs were more likely to be approached by men, and more quickly, in a beach setting. Men were found to believe tattooed women were more open to having sex on a first date as well, but this study did not show that inked women were seen as less attractive.
- A 2007 British study found that undergraduate students, 14 percent of whom had tattoos themselves and 71 percent of whom said they would consider getting inked in future, still saw women with ink as less attractive. In fact, the more tattoos a woman had, the more likely she was to be seen as unattractive. At the same time, they were seen as more sexually promiscuous. Women with tattoos were also deemed to be heavier drinkers! Interestingly, blondes with ink were seen as less attractive than brunettes with tats.