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Tattoo Fever

An editorial by Naomi Schaefer Riley in today's "Wall Street Journal" deals with the motivations behind the modern tattoo frenzy. Traditionally, the motivation for tattoos was the desire to be different; to not fit in with the crowd. However, a study just released by the American Academy of Dermatology concludes that one in four Americans between the ages of 18 and 50 has a tattoo and more than one in three between the ages of 18 and 29 has one. It is difficult to prove nonconformity by doing something so popular. A second and related motivation for tattoos is the desire to draw attention. People tend to notice the tattoo and it often starts a conversation. Unfortunately, it may draw the attention of the undesirable acquaintance as much as the desired one. Third, people get tattoos in order to identify themselves with something important to them. Of course, the tattoo may not give the message its wearer desires and, worse, the person tattooed may change their interests or beliefs over the years but the tattoo remains the same. Ultimately, most people sport tattoos today because they are caught up in the fad. Unfortunately for them, this fad cannot be discarded as easily as a closet full of really weird clothes.