For many young and aspiring people eager to enter into the working world, a common word of advice is often offered: dont ever get a tattoo. The common assumption with tattoos is that they render a person almost entirely unemployable. Never mind if you are highly educated and a top performer in your field, if youve got a flower permanently inked onto your ankle, youre destined for life with food stamps.
This quickly disintegrating misconception was birthed from the idea that the kind of person who would permanently mark their body was incapable of being professional, of following directions, and was unfit to represent an organization. Tattoos were for hippies from the 70s; people who protested against capitalism and the established order. There was a sense of disconnect and a distrust between these two groups, and the tattoo was a clear indicator of which side you were on.
Todays society functions much differently. Tattoos are not an indicator of rebellion or rejection, but of self-expression and individuality, which are now strongly encouraged. A tattoo no longer puts you into a category of miscreants, but instead demonstrates your love of Luigi from the Super Mario Brothers, or the Boston Red Sox. The kind of person sporting a tattoo has spread into every category, and every walk of life. It is no longer possible to make a value judgment on the character of a person based on the presence of a bit of body art.
With this general increase in the acceptability of tattoos in our society, their appropriateness in a work context now comes from the message they present. Like anything else you put on display on your body (ie clothes), the obscene and inappropriate is still unaccepted. Having a tattoo on your arm will not prevent you from getting your next job by virtue of it being a tattoo, but if it is obscene, graphic, or glorifying of violence or sex, then it will. Things need to be kept at a reasonable level.
It would be ridiculous to expect to be hired for a job if you walked into the interview with a shirt displaying something offensive. The same holds true for tattoos. If you have a face tattoo like Mike Tyson or barbed wire covering your arms, you will be shown the door. Keep things within reason. You no longer need to worry about the presence of a tattoo, even a clearly visible one, as long as the message it sends, or the image displayed is appropriate.
As we continue to move forward, and those who still refuse to let go of their distrust of tattoos move on from the working world, these markings will only continue to become more and more common. Who knows, we may even move into a future where NOT having a tattoo will be taboo, and grounds for losing your job. Unlikely, but you never know.
About the Author of “Tattoos in the Workplace and the Shifting Perspective of Self-Expression”:
Written by Clinton Garvin for the San Diego accident lawyers at AA Accident Attorneys.