Will Tattoos Ever Go Out Of Fashion?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on December 8, 2019
    Last Updated: November 27, 2020

Tattooing has been a practice known to humans since ancient times. While the reasons for using tattoos differed from culture to culture and people to people, their use has remained consistent throughout the centuries. One might think that such an old practice would fade with time, but there’s a future for tattoos still.

Tattoos won’t go out of style for several reasons. Firstly, tattoos have had a long history, and thus, carry cultural value. Secondly, they’re a powerful form of self-expression in a world where societal changes push people toward body art. Thirdly, with advances in technology, tattoos now have functional ‘uses’ that could even potentially save lives.

How Long Have We Used Tattoos?

For thousands of years, humans have used tattoos for many reasons. The oldest body holding tattoos was discovered to be at least 5,000 years old — Ötzi the Iceman. Tattoos were also found on human bodies and figurines from Ancient Egypt.

Otzi The Iceman

Tattoos, however, weren’t only restricted to Egypt, nor the Iceman and his people — the Scythians, Thracians Greeks and Romans also practiced tattooing. 

In the West, tattoo practice was also found in Native Americans, Inuits, and other ancient cultures in South America. In the Far East, evidence for tattoos was also found inside tombs in China, Japan, and the Polynesian islands.

This rich-history of tattoos is evidence that it’ll take a lot for tattoos to go out of style. Devastating illnesses, world wars and natural disasters seem only to make the evolution of tattoos more prominent.

How Do People Feel About Tattoos Now?

Currently, a huge number of people get tattoos, constituting more than half of the US population.

People who get tattoos seem to be motivated by several things:

  1. Representing a significant experience or struggle in a person’s life
  2. Extending one’s means of self-expression
  3. Enjoying the aesthetic

Those against tattooing are usually driven by:

  1. Religion
  2. Disapproval from friends or family
  3. Cultural values
  4. Fear of needles, pain, or any medical consequences
  5. Not finding tattoos appealing

People who have positive views towards tattoos usually see their wearers as cool and trendy, creative and artistic, or free-spirited and liberal. On the other hand, opponents usually see their wearers as messy and trashy, stupid and reckless, or immoral and, sometimes, even ungodly.

The fact is, some will always steer away from tattoos. The number of this group needs to be so extreme to influence a downtrend in terms of tattooing. Either that or a significant illness needs to sway the worldview on them.

What Does the Future Look Like?

Considering tattoos have been around for thousands of years, I very much suspect them to continue on their upward trajectory of popularity as they begin to become even more mainstream in the current world of social media and hyper-popular influencers.

Getting a tattoo is more accessible to the general public now than ever before, with nearly 50,000 tattoo-related businesses listed in just the United States alone.

Tattoo professionals are also creating mindblowing pieces of body art on levels never before seen up to this point, and they continuously push the limits of what can be done with a mechanical machine and a needle. Of course, steady advancements in inks and equipment have been a huge part of this progression.

Older generations are also getting more tattoos than they ever have done, and younger people are becoming more and more open to putting permanent art onto their bodies as they see societies and businesses becoming more accepting of tattoos as time goes on.

And will it stop younger generations from thinking body art is a fashionable form of self-expression when they begin to spot more and more faded patches of ink on wrinkly arms and sagging necks as older generations continue in higher numbers to bare tattoos they’ve been wearing through multiple past decades? I still don’t think so.

People will learn that as they get older they will still continue to love their saggy, tattoo-laden legs. They will continue to love the faded colors of the flowers growing up their once-taut arms. They know that these tattoos will remind them of times when they were decisive, independent and had stories to tell.

Tattoos mark not only what has happened in the past, because they will always be there with you through whatever comes next inside of your future, too.

Anyway, most people don’t care about fashion or style. Most people just want to get something beautiful and intimate; something meaningful. When it’s all said and done, and they’ve grown old and wise, and their tattoos have grown old and wrinkly with them, they won’t even care at all.

Tattoo Technology

The future of tattoos, as it seems, may eventually have nothing to do with the ink itself, anyway. Rather, tattoos are being somewhat reinvented as an idea by people of various disciplines. 

This is because, in the future, tattoos will actually be able to do things. A famous example of this is that of Anthony Antonellis, who implanted an electronic chip in his hand that can transmit 1 kilobyte of information via an antenna.

Another example is a new type of LED tattoos pioneered by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania is made up of silicon and silk. These tiny devices that can be implanted in the skin and are powered by the electronics inside. This, according to the researchers, can have numerous medical applications.

It doesn’t stop at these two examples. There are many other unique examples of futuristic tattoos, such as a tattoo used as a QR code, or another that can function as a microphone.

What Can We Conclude From This?

Despite the passing of centuries and change of cultures, the use of tattoos does not seem to have diminished, nor are they seen as obsolete. Furthermore, there appears to be a lot of innovative work and research involving entirely new ways of thinking of a tattoo and its purpose.

While religious and cultural beliefs seem to deter many people from adopting tattoos, giving function to tattoos through these future innovations might serve as a way of keeping tattoos and their uses alive and acceptable in future societies.

Humans and tattoos have been intertwined for a long stretch of our history. We’re seeing more and more people get tattoos, despite any existing stigma that has persisted through generations. Tattoos don’t look like they’ll be going out of style any time soon.

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