By Oliver Price, news correspondent
Once associated with bikers and gang members, tattoos now attract a different audience of ink enthusiasts: College students. According to a survey conducted by The News, 8.7 percent of freshmen got tattoos between the end of senior year of high school and the end of freshman year of college.
The News asked more than 100 students about their tattoos as well as whether the non-tattooed students would ever get inked. The results of the survey exposed a growing market of young adults who get a range of designs, from meaningful quotes and important dates to spirit animals and aesthetically pleasing images.
Half of the students bearing tattoos said they like the look of them and simply wanted one, while the other half wear a meaning behind the ink. Around 49 percent of non-tattooed students said they would consider getting inked.
Although the survey indicated that a common deterrent from getting tattoos is parents’ opinions, the overwhelming majority of students said their parents were aware of their tattoos, with almost a third saying parents disapprove. A few, however, admitted their parents got matching tattoos with them.
“There’s a huge urge to fit in,” Judith Hall, Northeastern psychology professor, said. “It’s respectable to have a tattoo.”
Due to the increase in young people getting tattoos, Hall believes that they have become “very mainstream and trendy.” Hall also said that getting a tattoo is not independent of the social setting.
“People are in a new location and have some social anxiety,” Hall said.
She added that beyond getting a tattoo to fit in, the art “marks liberation from parents.”
Elliot Richardson, a freshman political science and media and screen studies combined major, has five tattoos, including an arrow on her left forearm.
“I love tattoos. I think they are a really interesting, beautiful and overt way of expressing yourself,” Richardson said. “So many college students are getting them because our generation cares less about traditional professionalism.”
Sebastian Filmer, a freshman business major, does not have any tattoos but may consider getting one in the future.
“[Tattoos] are a way for [college students] to do something they might not have done before, because they are leading a new life,” Filmer said.
He also said tattoos are a new way of inventing oneself.
“[College students] should be smart about it; it’s not professional to have a big flashy tattoo,” he said. “It may be a short-term satisfaction, and 10 years later, it may hold zero meaning. At the same time, they can get a lot of work done but not have it impact their professional career.”
Hall said the culture of tattoos has changed over the years with the fact that nowadays, tattooing is gender-neutral.
“Tattoo artists are now recognized artists and can really be respected,” she said.
Young people, however, may risk holding temporary happiness for a permanent marking. Both Hall and Filmer agree that people with tattoos may not like the ink for as long as it is there.
“There has to be some regret; [one] may end up with a spouse who think it’s ugly,” Hall said.
According to Hall, there is no telling for the future of tattoos.
“Things go in and out; I guess time will tell,” she said.
Photo by Alesia Garret