This is an extremely personal topic for me as I have a full arm sleeve, amongst many other tattoos. Granted they’re all beautiful images and nothing offensive, there are still people who don’t look at them like they should, as an artform. While tattoos have become more and more prevalent in today’s society, it’s no secret that they’re still not deemed as “socially acceptable,” especially in the workplace. It’s an incredibly frustrating and confusing concept that the most qualified person may be turned down from a job, due to the simple fact that they have one or more visible tattoos on their body. Don’t get me wrong; I fully understand that some tattoos can be inappropriate or unacceptable for specific professional settings, but tattoos are not an indicator of talents or abilities an individual has, to perform his or her job. Back in the day, body modifications, such as tattoos, were largely associated with tribes, gangs, prisons, and the military. It wasn’t the typical social norm a few decades ago, but today tattoos cross every socioeconomic status and have destroyed previous stereotypes. From doctors, to lawyers ,to cops, and so on, you never know who you’re judging when they’re not in uniform.
Tattoos are also a fundamental part of some religions and cultures, which legally intermixes personal discrimination lines with religious discrimination lines. It is a well-known fact that discrimination against gender, disabilities, sexuality, and race is not tolerated in the workplace today, as there are a variety of laws that protect individuals against such types of prejudice. I find it hard to believe, especially in today’s society, that it’s illegal to turn someone away from a job because of their skin color, but perfectly legal to turn someone down because of a tattoo. Discriminating against an individual with tattoos should be treated no differently than discriminating against an individual who identifies as gay or bisexual, who has a different color of skin, or someone who has a disability. How you act towards someone with a tattoo makes a huge difference in your character and how others perceive you. A vast majority of people have come to the realization that there is no difference between someone with different colored skin than themselves, so the fact that people still view individuals with tattoos as lesser than those without, is utterly ridiculous.
Tattoos are undeniably a form of art. A painting on a canvas is art, drawing is art, coloring in any form is art, and putting ink in your skin is art, just the same. And to some people, like myself, this art holds a great amount of personal meaning and significance. People shouldn’t feel like they can’t put “their own version” of art onto their body because it will not be accepted in a professional setting, nor should they have to choose a different career because of their decisions. I repeatedly contemplated on if I should even continue with my degree in Business Administration and Human Resources, for this same reasoning. I opted to push forward; I will not be forced away from something that means so much to me. While there is allegedly no room in the workplace for discrimination, it still occurs, and unfortunately, tattoo discrimination is a large part of that. In my heart, I know there are businesses out there willing to accept my incredible skillset and equally incredible personality, together with my depiction of art. If a product or service is of quality, then it doesn’t so much matter if a tattooed or non-tattooed hand delivers it.
My aspirations for the future workforce are optimistic, but we must keep fighting for what we consider to be fair across all platforms. Everyone needs to feel accepted and safe in a working environment, communication is essentially the key here. When colleagues can agree to disagree on personal opinions, but still work together without judgement- then that is a positive working environment. We are workers and we also have our personal lives and identities outside of work. The focus should be on the ability and the willingness of the employee, and not the ink they choose to wear.