The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Body Art or Unacceptable Trashy Body Graffiti?
In honor of National Tattoo Day…
There is a negative stereotype that comes with the territory of tattoos, not for everyone, but for the majority of the public workplace, and in the minds of many people who do not and would never think about getting tattoos. Tattoos tend to be associated with people who are more likely to commit crimes, do drugs, smoke, drink alcohol, and are more promiscuous. Those with tattoos tend to be looked down upon and while accepted, are somewhat discriminated against.
Society has been tattooing their bodies since the dawn of humanity, seen in Ancient Assyrian, Sumerian, Egyptian, Babylonian, Roman, and Greek cultures. Tattooing the body is a form of art used for expression and marking. It is not necessarily a bad thing at all and to those who choose to tattoo themselves, are often wanting to symbolize permanent meaning on their skin.
The truth about the majority of people with tattoos, however, is that they enjoy their tattoos, they enjoy getting tattoos, and they are good hardworking people who like body art and want to embed stories or meaningful sentimental symbols on their bodies.
I used to be one of those people who judged people with tattoos for absolutely no reason at all. I had no idea why I did it, but it was almost like a stigma in society. I had sworn that I would never date anyone with a tattoo, but it turned out that she was (and is) a very sweet person, with a lot of stories to tell and a lot of body art to show. She was smart about her tattoos because after she told me the number she had, I could not believe it, as I did not see them on her when she was wearing her plain everyday clothes. In order to work in any place and because she got them for her own personal benefits, without judgement, she had her tattoos strategically placed so no one knew she had tattoos if she did not want them to know, but could show them off easily if she preferred.
I have had many friends along the way who got tattoos, including my own father, two siblings, and my Uncle, who have at least one tattoo on their body. I have made the personal choice to never tattoo my body, but I have also learned that people should never be judged based on the whether or not they have tattoos.
There are certain tattoos that represent certain things, such as a tear drop near the eye, representing the loss of a loved one or gang member, the number of years spent in prison, the number of times they may have been raped while incarcerated, or that they have killed someone. Some women may also get a tattoo just above their butts, which has become very popular, and has become widely known as a “tramp stamp”, though these women may just feel it is art on their bodies. Some men or women may tattoo obscene words on their body such as “kill” or “death” and they may face more discrimination and stereotyping than others who have tattoos without these types of words or obscene images.
There are some states and workplaces that are more laxidasical about tattoos than others, allowing for people to have tattoos, but forcing them to cover them up. There are workplaces that are very lenient and extremely tolerant of tattoos, allowing for their employees to completely expose their tattoos and freely display them.
The stereotype from the general public that companies try to avoid is the way that their customers may think of them, such as hiring “tattooed delinquents” to work for their company. However, that stereotype is far from the truth, as there are plenty of doctors, lawyers, teachers, politicians, police officers, and many more types of professionals in all occupations who have anywhere from one to a dozen tattoos on their bodies.
This is not to say that all tattooed people are hardworking and good, but both the general public and companies need to break the stereotype of discriminating against tattooed individuals, assuming that because they are tattooed, they are automatically bad or untrustworthy people. Everyone in life has a story to tell and many people with tattoos are simply telling stories with their bodies, not necessarily rebelling against society, or are unfit for the workplace.
While no company is obligated to hire people with tattoos and there is really no anti-tattoo laws to prevent such discrimination, people with tattoos or who are considering getting a tattoo should think about strategic placement of their tattoos in order to prevent any unwanted attention or discrimination.
You could be the perfect candidate for any job in the world, but once your tattoo is seen, you are automatically judged and dismissed based on that one thing you did when you were younger. Consider placing them in appropriate places that can be covered up if necessary. Unfortunately, the negative connotations and stereotypes associated with tattoos are not disappearing, but if you want a tattoo, be sure to protect your future potential employment opportunities.