Tattoo Taboo: Society has evolved, why can’t the work place?


My parents think tattoos are trashy — they especially hate mine. But if you ask my generation a tattoo is a work of art, an expression of individualism. An article from the Pew Research Center stated tattoos are the most popular form of self-expression for Americans ages 18-25. Getting a tattoo takes a matter of hours, or even minutes. But it stays with you forever. I feel like we live in a tattoo friendly world until we enter the workplace, where unfortunately it becomes an issue.

I go to interviews dressed professionally, with an impressive résumé in hand. I am educated and capable, and my speech and actions prove it. My tattoos are simply expressions of who I am, and what I have been through. Isn’t that the whole point? Give me a story and I can report it. Give me a video and I can edit it. My tattoos aren’t a burden to my work.

Our nation has made progress on so many issues: Minorities’, women’s and gay rights have made incredible strides during the last few decades. Strides so incredible that a tattoo seems like a minor thing, doesn’t it?

Tattoos used to be taboo. If you had too many, or just one in the wrong spot, good luck ever getting a serious job. They were seen as a sign of delinquency, making a statement about your social class.

For instance, tattoos have always been insignias for our nation’s military. But now, various branches are tightening regulations on tattoos in order to “maintain a professional look,” according to an article in the Wall Street Journal. Military men and women are laying their lives down for us. Who cares if they have a little ink under their uniforms? Which by the way, entirely cover their body so you can’t see the art.

However, our world has progressed greatly. Morality rides alongside societal norms. Things that used to be too edgy are now becoming okay. In the case of tattoos, policy hasn’t caught up with opinion.

Tattoos are slowly becoming more acceptable in the workplace, according to a Forbes article published earlier this year. John Challenger, CEO of a national consulting firm, told Forbes most employers consider an applicant’s skills over their physical appearance. While some workplaces still enforce strict anti-tattoo dress code policies, it comes down to the idea that employers should be looking for someone who can do the job, regardless of body art.

More than one-in-three Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 have at least one tattoo, but 64 percent of those over 65 think getting a tattoo is a “change for the worse,” according to Pew Research polls.

Our world is constantly evolving, that is an undeniable fact. You can either refuse to accept it or evolve with it. But from how I see it, tattoos are more popular than ever, and policy needs to catch up with society.

Our country faces so many more important issues. Yet a small part of the world is very hung up on ink that is not even on their body. If it does not affect you then do not worry about it.

My tattoos are a part of me. They are stories of my past, reminders of who I was. For my fellow tattooed people: do not let anyone tell you that you cannot follow your dream because of what is on your body. Be an individual and the world will follow.


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