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Elijas van Roon/Corbis
Once symbolic of tribal culture, religious persecution, military service or social deviance, tattoos have overcome their stigma status and penetrated the mainstream. In recent years tattoos have gained increasing acceptance worldwide in regions – and within social groups – where they were previously shunned. Today tattoos are more popular than ever with celebrities, popular TV shows and fashion designers embracing and celebrating tattoo culture. In the US alone, the tattoo industry is worth $1.65 billion with 45 million Americans sporting at least one tattoo. Among those with tattoos, 70 percent have more than one. While Millennials are driving the trend with nearly 40% of adults ages 18 to 29 inked in some way, it’s clear that tattoos have reached far beyond the fringes of counter culture to become more accessible – and acceptable – to the older and more mature mainstream.
Tattoo rates are expected to soar even higher in coming years as people continue to place increased value on self-expression, identity and individuality. This combined with their ability to commemorate, decorate and express one’s own creative, spiritual or cultural ideas will give tattoos a stronghold in popular culture for years to come, with some speculating that technological advances may introduce the likes of semi-permanent tattoos that fade over time, tattoos that change under different lighting conditions and even electrical lights that can be implanted under the skin. Undoubtedly, the future of how we decorate and adorn our bodies will continue to evolve while remaining a reflection of our overarching need for personal expression.