Western Courier

Are tattoos becoming acceptable in the workforce?

Justin Halas, Courier Staff

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At previous jobs I have been asked to wear long sleeves to cover up my tattoos, and at other jobs, the employers did not care as long as you were a good worker.

While looking for a job in Macomb earlier this semester, I had a few interviews. In two of the interviews I was told I would need to wear long sleeves to cover up my tattoos, in the other interview, the employer told me that she didn’t care where I had tattoos, as long as I was a good worker. The employer who told me that she didn’t care would also be the employer that I would have had the most customer interaction with.

In today’s society, tattoos are more socially acceptable than they used to be and for a good reason. The perception of tattoos used to be characterized more with a person not being good, which we all know is not true. So why do tattoos still affect your chances of being hired? Employers claim they want to maintain a professional look, but with around 40 percent of Americans having at least one tattoo, why should tattoos matter? I could understand if an individual has a tattoo that is obscene, but most of us who have tattoos have stories behind them. I have tattoos for both of my grandfathers who have passed away, a quote that represents someone we took into our family who is like a brother to me, a family tattoo with my mother and sister and an American landmark that I love. These do not describe someone who is a bad person.

Each person should be able to be themselves whether it’s at work, school or anywhere else. No one should be discriminated against or denied a job because of their appearance. The same goes for piercings; I have known many people that I have worked with who had to cover up gauges or take out just normal piercings that were visible for the job. I do believe with more time and more acceptance that tattoos will no longer be a factor in the hiring process. With our generation becoming the next business owners, CEOs, etc. the old ways of viewing tattoos and piercings should die out.

Working on my teaching degree and with the plans to move to a warmer area than Illinois, I hope that I won’t have to wear long sleeves every day of my teaching career. I don’t think that having a teacher with a tattoo or tattoos will affect the students ability to learn and to focus. I have had teachers in the past who had tattoos, and never once did it affect my ability to learn or made me think of the teacher or the school as unprofessional. For the time being, studies show that people with tattoos will have a harder time finding work, but I believe we are on the right track to minimalizing that narrative.

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Are tattoos becoming acceptable in the workforce?