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Let’s Talk About Body Art: The Stigma of Tattoos/Piercings in the Workplace

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

I don’t know where or how it started, but I’ve always had this nagging idea in the back of my brain that piercings and visible tattoos are unprofessional. Both of my parents have tattoos and have had piercings at some point or another in their lives, and yet I continue to find myself reluctant at the idea of getting a tattoo, no matter how much I want one. 

Why are tattoos and piercings so stigmatized?

I agree that it is important to consider what you put on your skin and the message it gives off, especially if it was designed with the intent to harm a specific person or group, but the art itself reflects nothing about a person’s ability to do their job. I would like to believe that, regardless of the placement of a tattoo, I can still be effective at whatever job I hold after graduation. 

I know plenty of adults and teens alike with some form of body art. It is not often their body art that stands out to me in defining how much I can rely on them to accomplish a certain task or job. Rather, it is their drive and personality.

How do we work against this stigmatization?

Honestly? I don’t know. I think this generation is going to be the most powerful in working against that, especially since the traditional workplace and workforce are changing over time as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. We are slowly pushing against the narrative of what it means to be professional, not only through tattoos/piercings but through hair and clothing as well. There is so much we can learn about a person through their body art. What are they passionate about? What inspired the body art? Is there a meaning behind it?

Tattoos and piercings, to me, are a form of self-expression rather than a hindrance in a person’s ability to be professional. Rather than focusing on judging people because of body art, why don’t we tackle the much larger issues troubling the American workplace and create a more productive and efficient environment for all? 

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Lucie Daignault

U Mass Amherst '23

Lucie is a fifth-semester member at HerCampus and a senior psychology major at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Outside of HerCampus, Lucie is the vice president of the criminology club, a small group leader with CHAARG, and a volunteer with MASSPIRG. She loves writing and is excited to share her ideas and learn from her peers!