Survey: 24 percent between 18-50 tattooed

(A) study, scheduled to appear Monday on the Web site of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, provides perhaps the most in-depth look at tattoos since their popularity exploded in the early 1990s. The results suggest that 24 percent of Americans between 18 and 50 are tattooed; that's almost one in four. Two surveys from 2003 suggested just 15 percent to 16 percent of U.S. adults had a tattoo. But body art is more than just tattoos.
"Really, nowadays, the people who don't have them are becoming the unique ones," said Chris Keaton, a tattoo artist and president of the Baltimore Tattoo Museum.
About one in seven people surveyed reported having a piercing anywhere other than in the soft lobe of the ear, according to the study. That total rises to nearly one in three for the 18-to-29 set. Just about half ? 48 percent ? in that age category had either a tattoo or piercing. Given their youth, that suggests the percentage of people with body art will continue to grow, said study co-author Dr. Anne Laumann, a Northwestern University dermatologist. "They haven't had time to get their body piercing. They haven't had time to get their tattoo. They are just beginning to get into it and the number is already big," Laumann said. So why has body art become so popular? Laumann and others believe it allows people to broadcast to the world what they are all about. Others call it sign of rebellion or a rite of passage. The survey found nearly three-fourths of the pierced and nearly two-thirds of the tattooed made the leap before 24.

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