Number of tattoo parlours double, young women most keen on body art

The number of licenced tattoo parlours in the Netherlands has doubled to 1,658 in the last seven years, figures from health institute RIVM have shown.

The trend for tattoos to become mainstream started a couple of decades ago, professor Henri Beunders told broadcaster NOS. Beunders, an expert in public opinion shifts, estimates that a 1.5 million people in the Netherlands now have at least one tattoo.

Women account for 60% of the young adults getting a tattoo, a result, Beunders said, of the emancipation movement. ‘In the 60s and 70s activist artists like Janis Joplin and Joan Baez started to get lines of flowers as a feminist act to show women can do whatever they want with their own bodies,’ he said.

Since then, he said, tattoos have become the norm in ‘anti-authoritarian’ sub groups such as heavy metal and hip hop, or in sport.

Older people too have discovered tattoos, Linda Berserik of Tattoo Garden in The Hague told the broadcaster. ‘We get people in their 40s,’ she said. ‘Young people come with their grandparents. Tattoos are becoming more socially accepted. I see people across the board, from civil servants to policemen and even lawyers.’

The RIVM number is based on registered and health board licenced tattoo parlours but the true number is higher because some businesses don’t yet have a licence. Some 2,500 tattoo parlours are registered with the Dutch chambers of commerce.

Tattoo artists in the Netherlands have had to abide by new rules from January, in line with both Dutch and EU legislation, The biggest changes involve new regulations for inks which contain substances which can cause cancer and genetic mutations, or irritate the skin.

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