Tattoos Shouldn’t Cost a Job and a Leg.

    The topic of tattoos in many households are nonstarters. Between biblical beliefs, to strictly economic reasons – tattoos can be a sore spot. Despite this, a survey done in 2001 stated that out of 302 college students, 58% had tattoos. In 2007 a study stated that over 61% of college students had body modifications (piercings and tattoos). These numbers are also projected to grow as tattooed employees are becoming tattooed bosses, accepting applications from tattooed workers.

    I have always loved tattoos. From the first time I saw a tattoo on my aunt, I thought they were the coolest thing. I became such a fan of them, I would take to doodling little drawings on myself during classes. Despite being chastised by my family and teachers, I saw no problem with it. It was, and always has been, just fun.

    I then got my first tattoo. I got a sunrise on my bicep to symbolize a line of poetry by Neil Hilborn that I loved. In his poem ‘The Future’, the line “Sunrise is going to come, all you have to do is wake up.” struck a chord with me. During a very trying time in my life, I found this line was the main thing that got me through the day, and I got the tattoo to commemorate my newfound resilience.

 Photo by Grayson Porter

    My parents saw it as a terribly impulsive atrocity that I had put into my body. This response was expected, as neither of them had ever wanted to get tattoos and had been against the idea when any of our other family members got tattoos.

    So, no they were not thrilled with my new ink.

    My mother’s main concern was “However will you get a job?”. This question honestly stumped me. I am a hard worker, I’m ambitious and I’m a fast learner. Why should liking tattoos define that?

    My aunt had a full back piece and multiple tattoos on her arm, and she is a respected therapist. My other aunt has a tattoo on her ankle, and she is a government official. Most of the women at my mother’s dental office have their own set of ink. None of their tattoos make their work ethic deteriorate or hurts their job performance.

    There are even websites to support the movement of accepting tattoos into the workplace, like STAPAW (Support Tattoos and Piercings at Work). They explain how professionalism has changed in the last decade, now relying more on interactions than appearance. They focus on the fact that tattoos/piercings should not be the deciding factor in hiring an applicant.

    Despite this huge abstinent from body mods in the workplace, statistics show that only 4% of tattooed or pierced individuals face discrimination in their jobs. Which brings the question about what actually keeps inked individuals from obtaining jobs. This question can actually be answered simply – interviews.

    While anyone can tell you that you do need to cover up your ink for interviews, businesses’ may still ask if you have any tattoos – even if they aren’t visible. This prejudice against tattoos in the workplace does stem from the first impression of tattoos being ‘dirty’ or ‘trashy’.

    Luckily as the times have changed, many interviewees are started to change their tune. In a Workopolis Survey done in 2014, they asked employees directly what their take on ink was. 50% said that they would not take an inked person less seriously, and over half of the commenting remarks sighted that they would only refuse to hire someone if their tattoo promoted “racism or hate”. Which honestly, cannot be taken as a bad thing. Who wants to work with the guy with a swastika on his chest?

    I got my tattoo because I was proud of myself for getting as far as I have, even when it got so hard that I didn’t think I could. My tattoo was to encourage me whenever I get discouraged to keep holding on, and that there is always going to be another sunrise – I just need to wake up. I look at my tattoo and I look at how far I have come, and I’m not ashamed. I don’t regret my ink and if it costs me a job or two, so be it. I wouldn’t want to be a part of a captious company anyways.