Tattoos are a common part of American culture today. It is not unusual to see a nineteen or twenty-year-old with three or four tattoos on their body on any regular day. I have one, my older brother has four, my friends have them, and not to mention all the people I follow on social media who have posted a photo of their first/newest ink. Yet, even with so many young adults getting tattoos, there is still a social stigma surrounding them in our society, regardless of the amount of people of all ages with tattoos. Now, I do recognize that some of the harshness surrounding visible tattoos in the workplace has diminished a little bit. Also, due to the commonality of visible tattoos nowadays, there are less shocked looks when people see sleeves on others. But, there is still a looming distaste towards tattoos that I haven’t been able to figure out.
One argument against tattoos is that they are unprofessional. My question back is how can an expression of ourselves “unprofessional?” In a sense, they are visible representations of our personalities. Tattoos are art on a human canvas, regardless of any meaning behind it. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a symbol or metaphor in order to be appreciated as a work of art. I like feathers, so I have one on my side and I think it turned out really well. It doesn’t have a meaning in itself, but it has value to me. Unless you view tattoos as just permanent ink on skin, I personally do not believe there is anything unprofessional about an expression of yourself.
Another reason people have issues with tattoos is that they are have been associated with gangs, prisons, and violence for a while. Even though many people in prison and in gangs have tattoos, not everyone who has a tattoo has been in prison or is associated with a gang or is a violent person by default. There is a correlation between these types of people and tattoos, but there are more nonviolent people with tattoos than before. I understand that it is hard to change the way you think after it has been ingrained in your brain to associate tattoos with these kinds of demographics, but with the amount of people who have tattoos now, it shouldn’t be hard to prove that stereotype wrong within a minute and a half. Tattoos are also paired with the idea that they instill rebellious actions in those who have them. Again, just because there is a correlation between rebellious people and tattoos, does not mean that the tattoos are the factor influencing them to act in a certain way.
What I am trying to get at is that the "stereotypical tattooed person" does not necessarily exist anymore. There is not one certain type of person who gets tattoos anymore because so many people have them now. Society itself is changing in this aspect and it’s about time we start letting it change. Eventually, I want a whole sleeve on my left arm and possibly a few on my right to compliment each other, but most people would not peg me as the "type" to get tattoos. I also want to be a high school teacher, but I shouldn’t be viewed as an unprofessional teacher solely because I have tattoos. And that goes for any profession. You are not automatically a lesser doctor nor a violent pharmacologist due to the visible art on your skin. If we can change the way we think about tattoos, we will be more accustomed to seeing them in weddings, interviews and daily work environments that the stigma will eventually go away altogether. If I’m going to spend a pretty penny on my tattoos, I’m going to want to show them off and I should be able to without fear of someone looking down on me for them.