A Conversation About Tattoos in the Workplace
January 23, 2020
Tattoos have been around for many, many decades and they have been criticized just as much as they have been praised. When it comes to tattoos, there is no in between: you either love them
Tattoos have been around for many, many decades and they have been criticized just as much as they have been praised. When it comes to tattoos, there is no in between: you either love them or you hate them. You either get meaningful tattoos or you get them because they look good. Your parents either have a lot of them or they will pray harder for every new tattoo you get. They are very controversial and one of the main discussions is how tattoos will affect your opportunity to get a job. For this reason, I talked to five people and asked them these questions to start a conversation:
1. What were your thoughts on tattoos before you got them?
2. Do you believe tattoos should have a special meaning?
3. Have you ever been judged based on your tattoos?
4. Do you think tattoos should affect your opportunities to get a job?
5. Have you ever been judged at your workplace because of your tattoos?
6. What would you say to someone who wants to get a tattoo but is afraid of being judged?
Nicole, 22 years old, four tattoos
She says she always thought tattoos were cool and to this day believes they do not need a special meaning; they could just be for a laugh as well. Luckily, she has never been judged for them, not even at her workplace. In her opinion, tattoos should not affect your job opportunities because it is your body and you should be able to do what you want with it.
Her advice to you is: “It's your own body, so do whatever you want with it. If you are scared maybe get one [tattoo] that you can hide with a shirt and then go from there."
Maureen, 25 years old, three tattoos
Maureen saw tattoos on her mom and stepdad, and it made her impatient to turn 18 so she could get her own. For her, tattoos are art which means you should be able to get any design you want. Although she does not believe having them should come between you and your job, she tends to hide hers because these are the rules at her workplace.
Her advice to you is: “Do not be scared to be judged because no matter what people will always judge others for one reason or another. A tattoo is an expression of who you are and you should never be ashamed of who you are."
Destynie, 21 years old, 23 tattoos
The majority of her family has at least one tattoo so she grew up wanting them. However, she has faced some judgement. People have told her she is too pretty to have tattoos and that they were unprofessional so she had to wear a jacket while working at her campus’s library. This has not stopped her from believing you should put whatever you like on your body, regardless of its meaning.
Her advice to you is: “No matter what people are going to find something they do not like/agree with and judge you about it – there is no pleasing everyone. If getting a tattoo is something that you truly want then go for it! It’s your body and you should be able to make that conscious decision on what you want to do with it. However, I do think we should keep the respective career fields we are trying to go into in mind."
Michaela, 29 years old, eight tattoos
Although her mother believed that Michaela would not get a job if she had tattoos, Michaela always knew she wanted them. To her, tattoos can be fun, spontaneous, and do not require a deeper meaning. She is a strong believer that having them should in no way be a reflection of the performance she puts in at work. And, worry not, despite her mom’s opinion, Michaela does have a job in which her tattoos make potential clients see her beyond a seller trying to get their business.
Her advice to you is: “Live your authentic self. If you want a tattoo, get a tattoo. If you want it to have a special meaning, cool, that's awesome! If you want one just because it sounds fun but you can't think of anything meaningful, just go with your gut. We should be progressive enough as a society where tattoos are no longer taboo or an indication of bad behavior."
Larissa, 21 years old, five tattoos
Larissa had to wait until she was 18 to get her first tattoo which meant she was jealous of anyone who got them before that age. She believes her tattoos should always have a special meaning but others can get anything they want. When she was first hired at a restaurant, she had to show her visible tattoos to her boss who said she did not have to cover them because they were not vulgar. She remains unjudged for her tattoos.
Her advice to you is: “Get it anyway! If you’re really that scared of being judged, there are a countless number of foundations that will cover it up completely (after it heals, of course). However, nobody should judge you for loving an image so much that you want to carry it with you forever."
Tattoos are an art, a form of expression, and a different kind of speech. As humans, we are always looking for ways to express ourselves and the designs on our body are just one way of doing that. This does not give anyone else the right to judge us but our beliefs will always be judged. However, tattoos do not give an employer a reason to not hire you. No one can say you are worth less because there is ink on your skin; that will never determine your performance. Sadly, some generations in leadership roles still believe your tattoos make you unfit. What do you believe? Should tattoos determine what kind of job you get? Have you been judged over your own designs?