Should Tattoos Be Allowed In Work?

As a self confessed tattoo addict, I have often been aware of the possible consequences of having such a collection. I know that tattoos are permanent, and they are not to everyone's taste, but that shouldn't affect my ability to do certain things, right?

I know that in the past, tattoos in western countries were uncommon except from among sailors, circus sideshows and prostitutes, or "ladies of the night". Because of that, the idea was formed that any female with a tattoo was a freak or a whore. I'd like to think that nowadays the stigma is gone, that people can accept our freedom to express ourselves.

Banker? Or Zoo Assistant?
Banker? Or Zoo Assistant?

Unfortunately, discrimination against tattoos still exist, despite their growth in popularity! I have had many jobs over the years where tattoos had to be covered at all times- even on dress down days. And I can tell you, wearing a jumper in the middle of Summer for a 12 hour shift isn't pretty! I am also saddened to say that I have been overlooked for positions, despite being well qualified and experienced, and I can only think that the tattoos were an issue, despite my willingness to cover them.

My tattoos do not affect my brain function, nor do they alter my character in any way.

Insurance Rep? Or Tattooist?
Insurance Rep? Or Tattooist?

On the other hand, I can understand that a company would like to project themselves as being professional. So, perhaps some badly designed ink could digress from that. But at the same time, as long as my tattoos are not offensive, why should I have to endure the torture of a clammy jumper on a hot day? Especially in a call centre, where no-one from your client base will see you!?

I totally understand why some people's choice of tattoos can make them somewhat unemployable, or at least limit their chances. For example, Dennis Avner, the "Catman" from Nevada, might look out of place serving in a bank- but would fit in well in a zoo. Lucky Diamond Rich- the most tattood man in the world, might look out of place selling insurance from door to door, but works well as a tattooist or in tattoo shows.

Those who have nazi symbols or satanic etchings on their face can hardly be surprised when they don't pass an interview. Similarly, those with rainbows or stars falling from their eyes. It doesn't look professional to have such people representing a company. As a general rule, I say nothing above the neckline or below the wrists... At least then it can be covered!

These offensive tattoos can also be detrimental to business if potential clients percieve the employee's beliefs to be the same as the employers. I don't think a party planner with a swastika tattoo would go down well in organising a Bar Mitzvah.

But. When tattoos are well designed and executed, they are pieces of art. I like to think of my own collection of ink as being my little art gallery that shares a bit of a story. They're also a good conversation starter- "do they hurt," "do you recommend a particular artist," etc. If anything, a good chat can help business.

This is something that the police force is using to it's advantage at the moment. The police are now allowed to show forearm tattoos, if they have any, whereas before they had to wear a long sleeve shirt. Why? Because they realise that it makes them appear more human, more reliable, more likeable. Let's face it, when a police person likes your likes, it means that you have something in common- therefore increases the chance of you confiding in them. Then again, a police person with a terrorist tattoo would probably have the opposite effect. Which is why judgement is used.There is no blanket ban.

I can understand why it is easier to have a blanket ban on such things- it's easier to enforce a rule to everyone than risk a lawsuit for discrimination.

However, if my collection of tattoos aren't offensive, then why can't I have them on show? Why should I be overlooked for a job in favour of someone half as qualified? Or even be forced to wear long sleeved clothing in temperatures where my colleagues are wearing vests?

I am responsible with my choice of tattoos. I choose designs that can't easily offend, and I place them in places that can be covered, if required. They may not be to everyone's taste, but that doesn't mean that they would offend anyone.

I would like to think that in future, there will be a change in employers' attitudes towards tattoos in the workplace, and that acceptance will be widespread. Until then, I will have to remain covered in order to remain employed.

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Comments 10 comments

btrbell profile image

btrbell 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

Society is pretty darn funny, isn't it? About 5 years ago, the doctor I was working with was missing something from her office. Her immediate reponse was to assume that the girl with the piercings and tattoos was the culprit. My opinion of that doctor dropped considerably that day but sadly, she wasn't alone. People tend to judge. I admire and respect your willingness to cover your tattoos while at work. An employer couldn't and shouldn't ask for more than that! Great hub! Up, useful and interesting!

sparkleyfinger profile image

sparkleyfinger 3 years ago from Glasgow Author

Thanks! There are so many people who think your a bad person because of body art, you're right. It's shocking! Thanks for the comment! :)

krillco profile image

krillco 3 years ago from Hollidaysburg, PA

Maybe so, tattoo prejudice, but looking at the pic at the top of your article, one would legitimately surmise that there is something profoundly...disturbed....with the individual who would go to such lengths at body alteration.

sparkleyfinger profile image

sparkleyfinger 3 years ago from Glasgow Author

Yeah, but I used him as an example of the extreme. I also spoke about those with offensive tattoos. I can understand why that would put people off, but surely not decent tattoos?

Man from Modesto profile image

Man from Modesto 3 years ago from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California)

To be honest, MOST people are severely put off by ANY tattoos. A young man at a local church needed a new shirt for his job at Pizza Hut. It had to be long-sleeved to cover his forearm tattoo. Corporate rules.

They do that because many, many people are offended by tattoos.

I have hired many people over the years. I hire on just ONE main principle: If I immediately like the person, I hire them and they work out great. If I immediately do not like the person, I don't hire them. Work experience, education... they don't matter. What matters is a cohesive team which can work together; a strong and productive environment produces a good business.

Tattoos or no tattoos, it never made a difference. However, my clients didn't care, either. I owned coffee shops in Philadelphia, near the art and student scenes.

Interesting article, voted so.

sparkleyfinger profile image

sparkleyfinger 3 years ago from Glasgow Author

Thanks MOM, I appreciate your time and input.

Zoe 3 years ago

i believe that having tattoo and/or piercings should be aloud in a workplace unless its working with food, then piercings would be out of the question, tattoos to some people have meaning for someone or something special. having offensive tattoos then yeah they should be covered. i have several tattoos when im at work i always get good comments even from older ladies or men in their 60+ years. People shouldn't judge on others looks.

sparkleyfinger profile image

sparkleyfinger 3 years ago from Glasgow Author

Very true, Zoe, but unfortunately that's just the way society is. That's why i try to see it from both sides. But, as a tattood person myself, I don't think its the right way to be. In today's world, there should definitely be more freedom around the subject!

freecampingaussie profile image

freecampingaussie 3 years ago from Southern Spain

When I worked as a telemarketer I noticed there were a lot of people there with tattoos !

sparkleyfinger profile image

sparkleyfinger 3 years ago from Glasgow Author

Yeah, Iv actually just got a new job- its in a call centre- and I can show my piercings and tattoos there! Im in heaven!!!! Thanks for the comment x

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