LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Think tattoos are mostly for tough-looking men and only a few women? Think again. The fair sex is getting inked more often these days, according to a poll set for release on Tuesday.
The TV network behind new show "Best Ink" and Lightspeed Research asked just over 1000 people across the United States about their perceptions of body art, and it turned out 59 percent of women have tattoos compared to 41 percent of men.
But women get their ink in different shapes and sizes than men, and the act of putting a piece of art on their skin is often a shared experience. The number of tattooed celebrities and TV shows have increased cultural acceptance and spurred more people to not only get them, but display them openly.
"It's become more acceptable for people to ... step into the tattoo world," said Joe Capobianco, a tattoo artist with almost 20 years of experience and the head judge on the Oxygen network's upcoming program, "Best Ink."
But Capobianco adds this advice: "If you're going to do it, do it, but be smart about it, make an educated decision."
The Lightspeed survey found that 89 percent of those people who had tattoos said they did not care if people disproved of their body ink and 46 percent said they'd proudly show their tattoo to their bosses at work.
The poll revealed that 40 percent of women made the tattoo experience a shared one, often getting inked with friends and loved ones, They also took the experience "a little more seriously" than their male counterparts.
"Women have a tendency sometimes of getting that little souvenir keepsake tattoo with deeper meaning, whereas men tend to go a little overboard and fill themselves up with larger pieces," said Capobianco.
The tattoo artist also saw a growing trend toward traditional 'Americana' tattoos, such as 'Mom,' with simple colors and bold bright styles in a homage to the working classes of early 20th century.
Sabina Kelley, a tattooed fashion model and also a judge on "Best Ink," said the popularity of reality TV shows such as TLC's "LA Ink" and Spike TV's "Ink Master" has made the tattoo tradition more acceptable within the mainstream audience.
"It's becoming a little more acceptable, and looking at how popular the tattoo shows on TV have gotten, more of the mainstream want to be tattooed," she said.
Stars such as Angelina Jolie and David Beckham have led the way in displaying their body art in public, and younger celebrities have followed their lead, especially women.
Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and former Disney channel stars Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, Ashley Tisdale and Vanessa Hudgens have posted their tattoos on Twitter, often getting inked with friends or relaying the meaning behind it.
"The younger crowd, especially girls, are getting more rebellious, doing it more for shock value," said Kelley, who has noticed more girls getting tattoos on necks and chests that are more visible and less easy to hide.
But Capobianco said there is one type of tattoo that, perhaps, may be better left untouched by human skin: a loved one's name. He calls it the "kiss of death" in a relationship.
"Names really are the big one I have to talk people out of, not a child's name ... but a loved one, because there are no guarantees in life," he said.
More results of the poll can be found at Oxygen.com on Tuesday. Oxygen's new series, "Best Ink" will premiere on March 27.
Reporting By Piya Sinha-Roy