While tattoos have become more and more prevalent in today’s society, it is no secret that they are typically not deemed as “socially acceptable,” especially in the workplace. It is an incredibly confusing concept to me that an undeniably qualified person may be turned down from a job due to the simple fact that they have one or more visible tattoos on their skin.
Don’t get me wrong; I do understand that some tattoos can be viewed as inappropriate or unacceptable for specific professional settings. For example, I’m aware that a tattoo of a skull and crossbones on a second grade teacher’s forearm may be a terrifying sight for a seven-year old. However, a tattoo sleeve full of beautifully detailed, appropriate images should make no difference in deciding whether or not someone is eligible for a job position.
It is known that discrimination against gender, disabilities, sexuality, and race is not tolerated in the workplace today. There are even laws today to protect individuals against discrimination. It is illegal to turn someone away from a job because of their skin color, but completely legal to turn someone down because of a tattoo, and this makes absolutely no sense. To me, discriminating against those with tattoos should treated no differently than discriminating against someone who identifies as gay or bisexual, or who has a different color of skin. A small difference in your skin makes no difference in who you are. How you act towards someone with a tattoo, on the other hand, makes a big difference in your character. Society as a whole has come to the realization that there is no difference between someone with dark brown skin and someone with white skin, so the fact that people still view individuals with tattoos as lesser than those without is absolutely absurd.
Tattoos are a form of art: there is no denying that. A painting on a canvas is art, crayons on computer paper is art, and putting ink in your skin is art just the same. And to some people, this art holds so much significance and meaning. No one should have to feel like they cannot put something heartfelt and meaningful onto their own body because they will not be accepted in professional settings. As a 19-year-old girl with three tattoos, I have been told time and time again to be careful, because I’m going to have a heightened chance of being turned down for a job. Though I have strategically placed these three tattoos so that they are not visible under normal circumstances, it is frustrating to me that I had to put such beautiful images on places on my body that will go unseen the majority of the time.
To some people, that raises the question: why did you even get the tattoos in the first place if they will be hidden? My tattoos hold a great amount of personal meaning for me, and whether they are seen or not, I know that they are on my body permanently. The significance behind each of the tattoos will forever be a part of who I am, and it enrages me that if they were more visible on my body, a future employer may look me in the eye and tell me that I am not qualified for the position that I have worked so hard for, just because they do not like the artwork on my skin. Though I do have future plans for more tattoos, I still plan on placing them on parts of my body that will be hidden by clothing, regardless of the fact that I shouldn’t have to worry about where I put art on my skin.
While there is allegedly no room in the workplace for discrimination, it still occurs, and unfortunately, it is against a beautiful form of art. I do understand that some people are put off by tattoos, but think of it this way: an incredibly successful salesman has tattoos covering both of his arms. His tattoos are covered if his sleeves are rolled down, and therefore, they can’t be seen by shoppers or potential buyers. Even though he has tattoos on his body, he is still successful. Whether the tattoos are covered by clothing or not, they are still on his skin, and he is still the same person.
Tattoos are not, and never will be, an indicator of talent or skillset an individual has. I can only hope that one day, my children will be able to put art on their bodies wherever they see fit without having to worry about being shut down by an employer.