I keep getting this Facebook page suggested to me, “Tattoo Acceptance In The Workplace.” I can’t bring myself to “like” it because I don’t feel that visible tattoos are something that should be accepted in a workplace; it shouldn’t be expected for a business to accept your tattoos. I want to emphasize this is just my opinion, based on my life experiences. For the most part I am talking about discrimination against visible tattoos. I don’t feel that any business should be able to tell you where you can or can’t have non-visible tattoos.
When I see a 20 year old with his neck tattooed I wonder, “Where does that kid work?” I hear time and time again how some girl is upset because she has to wear a full collar shirt at her job because her “boss sucks” and doesn’t like her new collar-rocker. Or some guy can only get a factory job because he wanted to be the tough kid and got his hands tattooed as his first tattoo (not that there’s anything wrong with factory work).
I don’t feel like anyone is being discriminated against when they can’t get a job or are asked to cover their tattoos at a job. We do this to ourselves–this is not something we couldn’t help. Tattoos are obviously permanent and that is something the younger generations that are now getting tattooed just don’t comprehend. I saw a guy at a show that couldn’t have been more than 20–just as tattooed as I am at 33 years old. He got his uniform put on, he got his cool points all at once. Now when the other guys that thought a little about their ink, and got less visible tattoos at first, get good jobs, and then decide where is ok to be tattooed, they have the option. They are not confined by their young decisions.
Tattoos are a wonderful form of personal expression. And it is great that after 18 years of age we can adorn ourselves however we want with them. But we can’t expect a business to conform to us for our decisions of decoration. You are taking away a business owner’s rights by demanding they allow you to look however you want. Abercrombie hires models, Hot Topic hires tattooed folks. Don’t be bummed if one won’t hire the other. It is definitely great that tattoos are getting more accepted in society. And it definitely stinks when a business owner puts their personal opinions on tattoos as appearance policy, and not as a decision of business image. Especially when it is a job that an employee doesn’t encounter the customer. At the same time, it is their right as the owner. We are making leaps and bounds as tattooed people, no longer just sailors and/or criminals. It is up to us, as the people wearing the tattoos, to continue to improve the public image on the tattooed. I see it as two ways to start. One being to just act like a civilized human being.
That’s really not that hard. Here’s the hard part: actually get good tattoos. That’s hard these days with so many scratchers out there, but do your research (like this website), find reputable shops, pay what they are worth and show your great art with pride. But when you have that amazing next tattoo that you just had to have done by your buddy, don’t be bummed when you can’t do the job you really want, because of their tattoo policies.
Tattoos are amazing. I wanted to do them since I was a kid and have wanted to be covered in them just as long. I am literally living my dream. When I was too scared to show my art to a shop to get an apprenticeship, I got my hands tattooed. In my mind, then I HAD to become a tattoo artist. There are lots of places that are very accepting of tattoos and that number continues to grow. As fans of this art, this craft, this lifestyle, we have to take responsibility for the choices we make take the plunge into the world of living art.
I’m sure this article will offend as many inspires. Either way, I hope you got something from it.
–Guest blog by Ian White
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