Tattoo Taboo: A Thing of the Past

You see musicians walking around covered in tattoos; but you see athletes with just as many. No one thinks twice about the artwork they decide to display on their bodies, so why do people think twice when others decide they want to get tattoos?

When I was a senior in high school, I told my mom I was going to get my first tattoo. She told me not to because I was going to be looking for a job soon and tattoos were unprofessional. My response was, “Mom, I’m going into the music industry. Having a tattoo won’t ruin my chances of having a career.” Thinking back, I realize that I was wrong in saying this. Not because I couldn’t get a job, but because it didn’t have anything to do with what major I chose.

The 80’s and 90’s saw a boom in the tattoo industry. With heavy metal rising in the 80’s and punk rock in the 90’s, teenagers and young adults were getting tattoos more than ever. When these kids went to look for jobs, they encountered a problem. The prior generation, the generation interviewing these youths, was not a heavily tattooed culture. As tattoos gained popularity, employers started realizing they couldn’t turn down people just because of the art they displayed on their bodies, because if they did, they wouldn’t have many people left to choose from. The tattoo boom generation is now the employer, and our generation can finally express themselves the way they wanted to when they were younger.

So why do people still worry about tattoos and the stigma they carry? Some people who got tattoos in the 80’s and 90’s regretted their decisions due to failure of finding a job, and some non-tattooed people noticed these regrets and noticed that some people with tattoos were not getting jobs.

Employers should not see tattoos as a reason to not hire someone, and this is why: A person with tattoos is a person who can express him or herself. A person with tattoos is someone who has stories to tell; someone who isn’t afraid to show everyone who he or she is. Having a tattoo, and wearing it proudly, is an act of courage.

If two people went for the same job and the one with tattoos was the better fit, would you disqualify him because of the tattoos? The term “don’t judge someone based on the color of their skin” doesn’t only apply to African-Americans, White-Americans, Asian-Americans, etc. It also applies to tattooed people. Someone should be able to wear as many colors on their body as they see fit, and if they can act professionally and do their job, they can have every color on their body and no one has a right to tell them they shouldn’t.

Johnny Depp said, “my body is my journal, and my tattoos are my story.” Tattoos are not something to be judged for, but to be admired for. You don’t have to like my tattoos; my tattoos are for me, not you; for me to love and admire, not for you to judge me on.

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1 Comment on "Tattoo Taboo: A Thing of the Past"

  1. Eric Neilson | February 5, 2014 at 1:42 pm |

    I’m glad you covered this topic. This kind of marginalization even happens in the military. Before I could even sign my contract with the Navy, I was required to change my tattoo because it could be considered offensive to people. My tattoo is on my chest and is covered 95% of the time. Did that matter to the administration holding my contract over my head? Nope. I even explained the meaning of my tattoo to the Navy interviewer and a commanding officer, but they were unswayed. Their argument is obscene tattoos would taint the reputation of the United States Navy. How was this situation resolved? I was smuggled out of the processing station to find the nearest tattoo parlor to make a tiny revision to an unseen piece of art. Funny the way it is isn’t it?

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