Millennials, reportedly the most tattooed generation in Western society, are taking to TikTok to share their tattoo regrets with members of Gen Z, lest they too grow up to rue their ink.
Though 13% of baby boomers and 32% of Gen X-ers sport tattoos, according to a 2022 YPulse study, millennials currently carry the title of the most tattooed generation, with over 50% having at least one tattoo (according to the same study, 7 in 10 say they have more than one).
However, considering that the hashtag #tattooregret boasts over 71.4 million views, it would appear that many of those millennials are wishing they’d never gone under the tattoo gun — or at least made different design choices.
Now they’re using social media to warn the next generation not to follow in their footsteps.
Gen Z is quickly on its way to taking the title of most tattooed generation away from millennials. According to Tattooing 101, as of 2021, 23% of those born between 1997 and 2012 had a tattoo, with 19% having more than one.
“Considering the fact that Generation Z is comprised of young people and many of them aren’t 18 yet, we’re expecting this percentage to skyrocket in the next few years,” the website states.
“The minimum age for tattoos should be 25 i said what i said 👁️👄👁️,” she writes in her caption.
In her video, she explains that while many people tried to warn her not to get tattoos, she didn’t listen. “There really is something to be said about brain development and decision making,” she says.
“When I tell you that something just switched in my little head about one month before my 25th birthday. Like, I woke up one day, and I was like, ‘What have I done?’ I am cringing the eff out about the majority of my tattoos.”
Another TikToker, @saraovershares, also aired her personal tattoo regrets.
“Imagine, if you will, that you put a shirt on once when you were in your 20s, and now you have to wear that for the rest of your life,” she says in her video. “That is what it feels like to get heavily tattooed before you turn into a fully developed adult human.”
Her video — captioned “Oops I regret all my tattoos 🥲” — explains that while many of her tattoos suited her life and aesthetic while she was in her 20s, now that she’s 36 she no longer identifies with them.
While many millennials opted for “macro” tattoos — big, intricate designs with pops of color — tattoo experts say Gen Z is all about micro tattoos.
“One of the biggest trends in tattoo design for Gen Z is micro tattoos,” writes Tattooing 101. “These tiny tattoos, which are usually smaller than a quarter, are subtle and easy to hide. Some of the most common tiny tattoos seen with Gen Z are hearts, stars, butterflies, animals, or small symbols related to their life.”
Do brains work differently after the age of 25?
According to the University of Rochester, those over the age of 25 think with the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s rational part.
“This is the part of the brain that responds to situations with good judgment and an awareness of long-term consequences,” researchers explain.
Those under the age of 25 process information with the amygdala — the emotional part of the brain.
However, according to the Guardian, 35% of Americans get their first tattoo between the ages of 15 and 19 — meaning they’re making this decision with the help of their amygdala.
Many TikTokers have taken to the comments section to express their own tattoo regret — or their relief at not having gone under the gun.
“I’m a tattoo artist and also wish the minimum age was 25 a lot of the time,” commented @pennygrit.
“I wanted tattoos SO BAD at 15-18 y/o and now I’m 24 and so happy I never did it. I am cringing looking at my Inspo tattoos,” wrote @cldhrdtrth666.
“I waited until I was 30 to start getting tattoos- so relieved! Some of my friends tattoos are ROUGH. I also have $ for quality artists!” commented @strawberryvino.
According to Inked Mind, it’s important for people — no matter their age — to think carefully before getting a tattoo.
“The worst thing that can happen by waiting for the right time is the waiting,” the site advises. “The worst thing that can happen if you choose the wrong tattoo is having to live with your skin disfigured by a drawing you hate.”
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