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Do Tattoos Affect Personality?

By Beauty Psychology, Style & Beauty

We see a huge number of tattoos in the modern age and tattoo shops around the world
doing some incredible work.

What is the psychology behind tattoos? Why do certain people absolutely love them and
keep going back for more? Why do we even get them and do they impact on personalities?
We explore more about the psychology in this guide.

The History of Tattoos

If you think tattoos are a modern phenomenon… well you’d be wrong! In actual fact they have always gone in and out of fashion.  There are plenty of examples of even ancient civilizations that used tattoos. Ancient art, findings in ruins and even mummification show that tattoos have been around for thousands of years.

In the 20th century, tattoos were deemed unprofessional. However, many are coming round to the idea that tattoos are acceptable in the workplace and that they do not have negative connotations. Although some are slow on the take-up.

What Does a Tattoo Say About a Person?

According to a study 22% (of 540 individuals) possessed at least one tattoo. Further analyses showed that, compared with non-tattooed individuals, tattooed participants had significantly higher scores on extraversion, experience seeking, need for uniqueness, and held more positive attitudes toward tattoos. These results are taken into account in relation to the widespread use of tattoos in todays socioeconomically developed
societies.

Often, tattoos are designed to be some form of expression. They are meant to have a
message and to show the sort of things someone is passionate about. What can you learn
from a person by their tattoos? Often, you can learn their interests, the type of music and
movies they like, or what kind of artwork they consider worthy of going on their body.

If you see someone with tattoos of names, such as family members, it is fair to say that they probably have strong morals and loyalty to their family and friends, and are passionate enough to get tributes inked on their body forever.

Of course, there are always tattoos that don’t say too much, other than looking cool. If you
get a simple design that doesn’t symbolise anything then others may try to read into it but
there may not be much behind the ink in this scenario.

Self-Expression and Identity

When you visit a Brooklyn tattoo shop and work with some of the best tattoo artists in the
world you can ensure that you end up with some beautiful tattoos. These are a form of self-
expression and you might even want to either design the tattoo yourself or work with a
tattoo artist to ensure that you have the ideal tattoo that reflects your identity.

A lot of people choose to mark something that is meaningful to them which shows a big part
of who they consider themselves to be. The date of a child being born or of another
significant event, or an image to symbolise an achievement in your life are examples of how
you can express yourself and paint a picture of your personality on your body.

Uniqueness and Individual

You’re unique, and you’re individual, just like everyone else. Tattoos are a great way to show all of the ways in which you are unique and the things that make up your identity. Artwork from bands you love, religious signs and symbols that resonate with you, lyrics, quotes, sayings, even family members and their names and significant dates. There are so many different choices you can make.

As well as showing that you are unique they are an amazing opportunity to start
conversations with people, and plenty of people will ask about your tattoos, especially if you
have some really impressive and visible ink.

Risk-Taking Behavior

There have been studies linking tattoos with risk taking behavior, and while there’s not really foundation in this in terms of the negative aspects of risk, it is true that getting inked shows
you’re confident and don’t mind a risk. There are always some risks to it, as you are going to
end up with this tattoo on you for life.

Another interesting research which was based on 803 tattooed women (aged 16-57 years), showed, that extraverts had a greater extent of tattooed skin area than introverts. No
correlation was found comparing the willingness to take risks, conscientiousness,
agreeableness and extent of the tattooed skin area size.

Extraversion positively correlated with the tattoo design of individuality. Openness positively correlated with the size of the tattooed skin areas. Neurotic people had a smaller extent of tattooed skin area than emotionally stable participants. Openness positively correlated with sexual motivations. No correlations were noticed for agreeableness or group affiliations.

Neuroticism did not correlate with spiritual and cultural traditions of tattoo. Risk-taking positively correlated with driven-to-the-limits experiences.

Of course, getting a tattoo is totally safe, especially if you follow instructions and take
precautions, so we’re not talking about that kind of risk, just the strength in your convictions
to have a great tattoo you will love forever. While tattoos don’t necessarily affect your
personality, they certainly show your personality to others and indicate your passions clearly.

How Fashion Can Help You Come Out!

By Culture, Fashion Psychology






It is common knowledge that our fashion sense changes and evolves along with us- I’m not the same girl I was when I was 14 and the lack of ‘Team Edward’ shirts I wear reflects that (I am still team Edward though). The clothes we wear can help us build our identity and is a crucial tool for transitioning and affirming new identities. However I didn’t understand just how important my clothes were until I discovered the full spectrum of my sexuality. Once I realised I was attracted to women also, there was a shift in my mindset- dressing for male validation and dressing for female validation were two completely different experiences. When I was dressing for what I thought made me most appealing to men, I found myself reaching for tighter fitting clothing, things that would restrict my body in the hopes it would also restrict my big personality that I usually muted for men.

Tighter clothes= smaller me= less space that I was taking.

Loose woman

The tendency for women to monitor, control and restrict their own bodies was explored by Bartky, where he states that a woman’s space is not a field in which her bodily intentionality can be freely realised. The term ‘loose woman’ indicates not only a woman with loose morals, but literally in the free and easy way she moves. Fashion has been a tool at both restricting women but also aiding their autonomy, this is evident in the way corsetry in the 1800’s evolved to allow women not only physical freedom, but when the ‘bicycle corset’ was invented, it also allowed them geographical freedom.

When I started dressing for women, I realised I was actually dressing for myself- because there were no expectations of how I should look. When those expectations were stripped, I discovered what outfits I liked myself in, instead of what outfits I liked to be liked in.  Sometimes that looked like form fitting clothes, but it also meant a lot of baggy trousers and generally more comfortable materials and fits. I used fashion to compliment my transitioning mindset that was stepping away from the male gaze. I found this was a similar experience to the character Jules in the ever-loved ‘Euphoria’ series, where she explains she had built her entire identity based on a version of femininity desired by men- but she realises she is no longer interested in that version of herself.

Gender Performance

Furthermore, If you consider how intrinsically linked sexuality is to gender expression, turning to Judith Butler’s theory of Performity can help us understand how clothing is such an instrumental tool in conveying our identities. This theory puts into question how natural gendered behaviours really are, arguing that gender is in fact just a performance imposed upon us by normative heterosexuality- fashion being a key prop to this performance.

Therefore, by breaking away from these ideologies and dressing in ways that feel authentic to yourself, fashion can be an extremely helpful tool in reaching full self-actualisation. Self discrepancy theory explains how detrimental it can be for there to be a discrepancy between who you are and how you dress, resulting in a lack of pride and lower self esteem. So moral of the story: Dress how you feel inside and you’ll be happier for it! Queerness looks like so many different things, but what it isn’t is how you think you should look, but rather what you feel.

As London Pride erupted around the city, I spoke to some fellow queer people and asked them how they felt fashion aided them along their journey of queerness:

Priya

Before accepting queerness
After accepting queerness

How do you think fashion/clothes helped you accept your queer identity?

Throughout a lot of my teens and early twenties I felt a huge pressure to perform femininity with my appearance. I felt that a lot of my value as a person was measured by how attractive I was to men, and this felt suffocating. I started to embrace my queerness and to learn more about feminism, so changing the way I dressed was a way for me to reflect that internal shift. People have often commented on my style and told me that men won’t like it- so going against that has enabled me to reclaim my body and queer identity. 

Did you see a difference in the way you dressed once you did accept your queer identity?

The way I expressed myself with fashion has changed a lot since accepting my queer identity. I feel so much more freedom in what I wear now and choosing not to care what others think has been the most important change for me. Incorporating typically ‘feminine’ aspects into my style now feels like a fun option, rather than a necessity. Some days I choose to dress in a more stereotypically masculine way and I get some confused stares in the ladies’ toilet, but ultimately I feel more like myself.

​​Asia

Before accepting queerness
After accepting queerness

How do you think fashion/clothes helped you accept your queer identity?

Once I came to terms with my sexuality, I stopped wearing things that made me feel uncomfortable such as dresses or heels. I never liked them but wore them because I felt I had to, because I thought that version of me was the only one people were going to accept. 

Did you see a difference in the way you dressed once you did accept your queer identity?

I definitely did, I felt more comfortable and confident, and started caring a lot less about how people perceived me. I also feel like how I dress now helps me express myself and my personality more. 

Mila

Before accepting queerness
After accepting queerness

How do you think fashion/clothes helped you accept your queer identity?

Clothing has granted me a way to play at queerness, the bounds I felt were loosened as the fit of my clothes loosened too. Each of my outfits perpetuate self acceptance because fashion speaks on our behalf. 

Did you see a difference in the way you dressed once you did accept your queer identity?

I used to be embarrassed to exist at all, especially with the unreturnable gift of queerness. My fashion used to be as plain as possible, desires suppressed, to reflect this toxic mindset I had rationalised. These tight anxieties were undone when I learnt the joy of practising excess through fashion: Layering extra necklaces, mixing colours, prints etc. Suddenly I was dressed to take up space, but so had to confront the horror of being perceived- but at least clothing had become fun.