As I get older, I acquire more and more tattoos. At 21 years old, I currently have 11 tattoos and I certainly have plans for many more. However, as I become closer to entering the “real," professional world, I have come to understand that tattoos are still seen as wildly unprofessional... in 2018.
This is an ideal in today's society that I will never quite understand. How does a motivational quote on my collarbone or my leg or my wrist (wow, maybe I should slow down on the motivational quotes...) take away from my ability to succeed in your company? How does it take away from my past work experience, my degree or my work ethic? It absolutely does not.
I also will never understand why covering up my tattoos makes me a better candidate for a position. This completely perpetuates the idea that people are judged by their appearance, and I personally think it's time we move on from that. Making me cover my tattoos doesn't change anything about my impressive resume. Making me cover my tattoos doesn't change anything about all of the knowledge I have, or my capacity for learning more. Making me cover my tattoos doesn't do anything at all besides make corporate America look like a group of judgmental jerks.
As I continued to add to my tattoo collection, I heard a lot of "You'll regret that" and "Good luck getting hired." It never bothered me too much, and I figured that those who said that to me were being dramatic. And then it happened—I went in for a job interview, aced it, and then was told that in order for me to be hired, I would have to come to work covering all of my tattoos. At this point, I did not have as many pieces in my tattoo collection and I didn't realize exactly how difficult it would be to cover everything, all of the time, so I agreed. Long sleeves and pants it was—in the constant Florida heat. But now, looking back on this situation, why on earth did I accept? Why would I want to work for a company that doesn't allow me to show ALL of me? How do my tattoos affect the work environment or distract from what I am producing? They don't, and the judgment passed in this process is unbelievably unfair.
I understand that tattoos are my choice—my choice to express myself, to leave journal entries on my skin reminding me of what I have overcome. I also understand that it is the companies' choice to hire me or not and to not look past the beautiful words and symbols scattered all over my body. I just don't understand why companies make that choice.
It would seem to me that in a time when we have become so progressive as a society, tattoos would have become a more “normal" part of our lives. Tattoos have been popular for a very long time, but now more than ever! In passing conversation, those who DON'T have tattoos are the odd men out. Tattoos have become a right of passage for 18-year-olds and a very profitable industry (thanks to all of the tattoo-addicts like me). Tattooing is an ancient art, practiced all over the world. So why is it that in America, the art on our bodies is viewed as so taboo?
My opinion on the matter is that the men and women who are in higher-up positions and positions of power are, simply, afraid. Afraid to accept change, and afraid of us millennials and our ever-lasting and ever-evolving rebellion to all of the wrong in our country. We have revolutionized equal rights to marriage, we have fought to change policies and laws that negatively affect people of color and minorities, and so much more.
So while tattoos may seem small and pale in comparison, the rejection of them in the professional world reflects a different time. A time before us, when these corporate leaders were in charge and in power. Well, I choose to continue on the path of rebellion and will continue to add to my tattoo collection.
I love my tattoos, I am proud of them and I should be allowed to be proud of them in whatever profession I choose. Simple.
Until next week friends!
- The Tattooed Executive - WSJ ›
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- Tattoos and Piercings: Career Taboo or the New Normal? The ... ›
- Tattoos in the Workplace: The Research Forbes Was Too Lazy To ... ›
- What hiring managers REALLY think of your tattoos - Business Insider ›