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    The Effect of Tattoos on Employment

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    There are many jobs in the world that one can choose from after receiving an education. Whether someone wants to be a firefighter, a filmmaker, or a veterinarian, one should be able to access that job based on their education and not their appearance. Getting a job is hard enough as there are many people looking for that same one.

    Many Employers will interview many different individuals and go over many stand-out applications. When it comes down to it, having a single visible tattoo may ruin your chances of getting the job. Many may ask, “why does a tattoo actually have a chance of possibly ruining someone’s chances of getting them a good job?”

    Tattoos started off as scars, tribal markings, religious meanings, and cultural expressions. Tattoos were and are nothing more than a way of identification and personalization. It is hard to understand why people would discriminate against people who have them.

    Most people that have tattoos will tell you that there is a meaning behind them and as to why they wanted it, why they got, or whom they got it for or with. It is not okay that organizations discriminate against people’s personal choices of getting tattoos. There is a meaning to them. No one has the right to judge anyone for their own doing.

    According to Pew Research Center, around 36 percent of adults between ages 18-25 have at least one tattoo and the average annual amount spent on tattoos in the U.S is $1.65 billion. However, despite the statistics, discrimination in the workplace is happening and has been happening for a long while.

    Tattoos are an art form, an expression of one’s self in a uniform world. Amii Parr said in a story she submitted to a BBC News, “[a]bout a year and a half ago I applied for a job as a waitress. It was a half telephone interview, half seeing when you’re free. It was going fine. The employer started talking about the uniform. When he said it was short-sleeved, as soon as I said I had my arms tattooed, he just hung up.” Tattoos are a freedom of expression and most people are raised hearing, “do not judge a book by its cover,” so why are we judging people by the way they look.

    We have so many different ethnicities, religions, and races, but people are expected to cover up their tattoos for a job cause there is a possibility that someone might think of them as a stereotypical “bad person”?

    Karla Valentine sent her story to BBC News as well but her story had a different outcome, “[i am] 35 and quite heavily tattooed. I had a job as a mid-day assistant at a school. I was taken on having tattoos and facial piercings which during the winter months was fine as I was covered up, but when the summer arrived my arms were on show. I was promptly issued with a ‘standards of dress’ guide.

    It said that visible tattoos and facial piercings were not setting a good example and should be covered up. This was the first bit of communication I had received during my job. I feel sad that children grow up being taught these shallow-minded views. I was good at my job and the children seemed to like talking about my tattoos. I did start a bit of a campaign but I didn’t want to work in an environment that said because I have tattoos and a piercing I cannot do the job.

    After a week or so I went to see the headmaster and resigned with immediate effect. He had called me in to have meetings with personnel over the issues I had raised, but I didn’t feel I wanted to work in a place that discriminates against tattoos and piercings and I don’t believe I should have to fight to justify that I’m a hard worker and a decent person. I just feel it’s sad that we can be so discriminatory about people’s choices, I feel sad that children grow up being taught these shallow-minded views…”

    Even though people are being declined or fired from jobs for having tattoos, it might be the person’s decision on what the tattoo is. Many people get tattoos impulsively. And symbols, which most get as a small meaningful tattoo, change over time. Using the swastika as an example, it was once a symbol of good luck that has now become the horrid symbol of the Nazis. Even the “OK” hand sign, intended to show that everything is going okay, has recently been getting used more by the alt-right.

    Whatever your tattoo is supposed to mean, it may later turn into regret or a negative meaning. Aside from the opinions that getting a tattoo can be painful, there are signs that having ink in your skin is not very good for your overall health. And lets not neglect that there are statutory laws in all of the 50 states blocking people younger than 18 from getting a tattoo, but there is no federal law protecting the practice.

    Yes, tattoos are pretty common these days. And attitudes toward them are more open in the workplace than they were in the past, there are still things that can affect someone’s opportunities in stricter workplaces. And some tattooed employees may have dress-code policies that make them cover up visible body art.

    They could claim their First Amendment Right to free speech but it would not help them win any cases against their employers. That is because the First Amendment only stops the government from stopping someone’s freedom of speech and expression; it does not reach to employers and certainly not to their problems. Some Businesses allow staff to have tattoos but won’t allow offensive tattoos to be displayed in the workplace while they are in uniform. However, offensive tattoos are rare or put in out-of-sight places.

    Although, we might live in a world where everything seems to offend everyone in some way as read in this article from BBC News, Sam claims “My old boss was against body modifications because of her religious beliefs. I was constantly harassed about my piercings and tattoos. I had hours cut after getting my tattoos, even though they aren’t visible. I have both feet done as well, but always wear socks and shoes.

    I work in childcare and was told that even out in public I had to keep appearances up, so to keep covered, because I might see the children I looked after outside hours. In my uniform you can’t see my tattoos. As I keep it professional but I’ve been told that I’m unapproachable and scary with tattoos and piercings and that could lose potential clients to the business.” Moreover visible anti-semitic, violent, or any type of disrespectful tattoos is a completely acceptable reason for turning someone down. Most employers should not put a full ban on tattoos, just make a policy that they should be less visible or as covered up as possible with the uniform.

    They should not push the policies regarding tattoos so that people won’t push discrimination claims against them. Some people’s experiences might have had a bad start but end well. Jef had an interview with BBC News and said, “[i] have both full sleeves and my previous employer stated you had to cover all tattoos when in work hours, which I found wrong because other members of staff were allowed to wear earrings which is another form of body modification.

    One rule for one et al. I now work for a company that does not discriminate against tattoos. I am currently a contract manager for a hospital. In my previous job I was an operations manager where their policies stated that all tattoos had to be covered up at all times. This included any contractor working on site.”

    There is no way to deny that tattoos are becoming an everyday thing. But it is not just about what they have on them, it is making them more unique and can make them more comfortable with who they are. Some might get tattoos just for the adrenaline rush or to cover scars or imperfections. You might never know the reasons people have for getting their tattoos but that does not mean you should be rude or discriminate them. Certain tattoos have actually taken a meaning socially, the semicolon is a symbol of suicide and why you should not give up.

    Or a city skyline is a reminder of the journey you took or want to take. And roman numerals might be a date they want to remember. Tattoos are not an artistic way to showcase violence, they are ways for people to show you they comfortable with themselves and that they wanted to be unique. Some might showcase gore but that does not mean its bad. It might be pretty but it could have a darker story behind it. Do not judge something based on the way you see it. There will always be a story behind it, even if you do not want to hear it, you should listen.

    A beautiful flower with a quote could be someones favorite quote that got them through a tough time. Roman numerals could be a loved one’s death date. The blood ridden tattoo could be something someone else drew for them that they got to keep their memory close. Do not judge what is on the surface, there is always something deeper. They cover people’s insecurities, they bring people closer to their loved ones or the ones they have lost, and they bring back happier memories.

    Now in a professional setting, if you only hire someone based on if they have tattoos, you might be missing out on a lot of good people to work with. Someone can be covered in tattoos but have a Ph.D. and be one of the smartest people in the world, but as soon as someone sees that they have tattoos they might not even think of them as having a Ph.D. Some of you may think, ‘Well people have to wear a uniform in which they have no control over.”

    This is just like any other dress code policy though. Dress codes do not allow for there to be many expressions of someone’s own personality because most places want their employees to look uniform.

    And it is understandable that tattoos can be rude, offensive, or anti-semitic and it can be a problem in the workplace. Dress codes are not entirely the problem though. The problem is that people are often too quick to judge others for their appearance without giving them a chance to show their talent and work ethic. I know this might not always be the case, but it happens more than you would think.

    The world is evolving and people’s attitudes towards things are evolving with it. Tattoo acceptance has grown exponentially over the years. They started as tribal markings, beliefs, and brandings which have evolved into a new form of living art and self-expression for a modern era.

    While researching this topic I read that a lot of people are hoping that there will be a hard change for corporate industries since they will have to change its policies to accept a person with tattoos. While others argue that tattoos are a shame and will never be accepted by a professional world.

    Sylvia Asmar states in Odyssey Online, “Growing up I always heard people say that people with tattoos and piercings will never get good jobs because they don’t look “professional.” I was never a person to believe that though. I always found tattoos and piercings to be really cool and wanted a lot of tattoos myself. When I would tell people, “I want a lot of tattoos when I get older,” I would have a fair share of people tell me things like, “You’re so pretty.

    Don’t do that to yourself,” or, “Don’t get too many or you won’t get a job,” or even, “You’re going to regret it later when you get old and wrinkly.” Over the years I became used to remarks like this which is astonishing because I didn’t even get a tattoo or a piercing until I was 18. What bothered me the most about people having some crazy thing against tattoos and piercings is that people seemed to believe they meant you were unprofessional.”

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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    The Effect of Tattoos on Employment. (2021, Sep 22). Retrieved from

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