Teenagers Have More Tattoos Than Ever Before


Junior Leven McCullough’s favorite tattoo, a pronghorn on his back.

Within the last few decades, individuality and personal expression have been encouraged like never before. People are discarding conventional and conservative ideas, especially the youth.

Tattoos have become insanely popular. These miniature works of art have grown as a desired trend, catching the eyes of young adults all over the world.

Junior Julia Gentry explained, “As [tattoos] gain in popularity and the stigma fades, I think they’re becoming more prominent among all age groups, but especially young people as we were not as exposed to the stigma that used to be around tattoos and tattooed people.”

It is common to see teenagers with tattoos, especially among millennials. According to researchers Kristin Broussard and Helen Harton, the negative connotation that older generations often associate with tattoos is the idea that they are related to “lower levels of inhibition, competence, and sociability, and higher levels of promiscuity.”

This stigma is fading, and teenagers, especially high school students, are getting more tattoos. This trend can be seen throughout the halls of Air Academy.

“I’ve been noticing quite a few people getting more tattoos and talking about getting tattoos in my grade. It’s one of the freedoms you get when you turn 18 and I think it’s a classic form of rebellion for some,” said senior Liliana Boice.

Junior Leven McCullough has four tattoos. He got his first tattoo the day he turned 16.

“The one on my calf is unfinished but it’s a scene of a mountain goat on a cliff overlooking the valley. It mostly represents myself as an outdoors-man. Mountain goats have to be very strong willed and skilled animals in order to survive in their habitat, that’s what links it to me,” said McCullough.

Teenagers often use tattoos as a way of personal expression or to tell a story and hold on to memory.

“It’s a kid’s drawing of a bird that looks like an ‘m’ on my wrist. It’s an exact copy of one drawn by my older brother who passed away so I can always have a bit of him with me,” said Gentry.

Junior Julia Gentry’s tattoo on her wrist.

“The cancer ribbon on my left forearm is for my best friend which I lost to cancer,” said McCullough. 

Junior Leven McCulloughs tattoo on his forearm.

In Colorado, the legal age to get a tattoo without permission is 18, this means that most high school students have to get a guardian’s permission before they can get inked. Convincing parents to sign off can be a difficult task, particularly when parents tend to hold on to older tattoo stigmas. Students whose parents allow them to get tattoos earlier on can get one as early as age 16.

Boice explains, “I feel like the older generations such as gen X and baby boomers (basically parents), generally look down on tattoos more than millennials and gen Z. But I feel like if you’re getting a tattoo, it has to be some sort of expression; no one really gets a tattoo for no reason. It’s on your body forever. Even though my tattoo doesn’t really have a deep meaning I got it to show/express that I’m an adult now and used this new freedom of being a young adult.”

Boice has a tattoo of a UFO. “I just think it’s cute and I like UFO’s,” she said.

Senior Liliana Boice showing off her UFO tattoo.

One thing about tattoos will always remain the same: they are permanent. Their subject matter and placement should be thought out carefully.

Tattoos are a result of personal preference, experience and style. These miniature pieces of art are seen spread throughout the halls of Air Academy, each with a unique story behind it.