Are Tattoos Still Taboo in the Workplace?

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Danielle Sorrentino

Research Paper

Are Tattoos Still Taboo in the Workplace?

This is a topic that has been marinating in my mind for quite some time. I myself love the sense of having freedom to express myself. As I currently stand, I work as a Systems Engineer for the Government and one of my biggest pet peeves is conformity. I understand that there are dress codes and I follow them but in ways that still allow me to be myself, after all I’m not a gray suit type of gal. In fact, I myself have a full sleeve tattoo and I’m not afraid to show it at work. I find that I’m lucky that I work with individuals that have never judged me based on my tattoos and a boss who allows me to still be myself while I work on very intense projects and missions for our very own Military. My tattoos have not hindered me from learning new and challenging things so why should it stop Employers from hiring people with tattoos?

I do understand there is always a time and place for self-expression and when going for interviews I feel everyone should appear professional. However, there have seen instances where a slightly visible tattoo has hindered potential employers from being hired. According to article in Huffington Post, “ In short, clean-cut candidates with a traditional corporate appearance are more appealing to employers than those with visible body artwork.” For the most part I feel individuals would attend an interview dressed appropriately, but sometimes regardless of what you wear some have visible tattoos, like on the hand or wrist and neck. This is where I feel that people should be valued more for what they are trying to bring to a job, rather then for what they look like or have on the exterior.

The stereotype of what is conveyed when a person walking around with tattoos all over their arm is that they are trouble, uneducated…a rebel to society. In the article “Professional dress code and Tattoos,” states that in today's world people with tattoos are very prejudiced and tattoos are most popular among the poor and uneducated. I believe that tattoos should not undermine anyone’s education or render any label other than promoting freedom of expression. Just as you can’t discriminate based on ethnicity or religion I don’t feel someone with tattoos should be discriminated. If you have the qualifications and experience to do a job, why should anything else matter? I do believe there are those out there with distasteful permanent ink on them and feel that if any of the art is offensive that should be a reason of doubt and a reason it shouldn’t be allowed. However the Article also states “Many tattooed people think that they are protected by their First Amendment rights to freedom of expression. Unfortunately, this is not true in the workplace.”

Tattoo laser removal has been on the rise from potential employees trying to find work. “Laser tattoo removal rose 32% from 2011 to 2012 with “employment reasons” cited as the leading factor according to a recent study done by The Patient’s Guide:

There’s been a significant increase in the number of patients who desire

tattoo removal for career advancement or for employment reasons,” says

Dr. Eric Bernstein, renowned laser expert and Associate Clinical Professor

at University of Pennsylvania.  “I think this is as wrong as any other kind

of discrimination, but patients tell me that their tattoos are affecting their

professional lives.  Many feel that their body could be holding them back

and this has resulted in more folks seeking tattoo removal.

People are spending rediculous money trying to remove tattoos, people whom Im sure are trying to find a job because they need money, All in hopes that someone will hire them. I think, as someone who has tattoos should go to an interview dressed as professionally as possible and give them the best they have and if someone can’t look passed these exterior road blocks then they are not the Employers you want to work for...
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