Tattoos in the workplace

Abbey Whittington, Staff Reporter

Ever since I was 14, I have been fascinated by tattoos. I have often envisioned my adult self as someone who would be almost entirely covered with body art.

Tattoos have also seemed to blow up in the media, and this generation is a lot more covered in ink then ones in the past.

As I scroll through my news feed on almost every form of social media there is either someone on my friends list getting an additional tattoo, or pages supporting tattoos and even piercings.

It is no longer unusual to hear our youth going to get tattoos or making Pinterest boards for ideas of their future ink.

The problem with this is a question every 18-year-old will have to face before they enter the tattoo parlor: Will this tattoo prevent me from getting a job?

As I have entered establishments where tattoos are prohibited, I have noticed many employees will cover up their body art with band aids or gauze.

These cover ups draw even more attention to customers, and they would be better off showing their tattoos then appearing as wounded.

Employees also might have to go out of their way to cover up this body art with long sleeves or pants which may be uncomfortable when there are high temperatures.

Depending on the occupation, it is understandable to have certain professional dress codes, however, to ban tattoos in the workplace does not make sense to me.

If an individual meets and/or exceeds the expectations of a position, and the dress code is met then why does this mark a potential employee as incompetent?

I think that telling an individual that they cannot work for you because of how you choose to express yourself makes for an uncomfortable and boring work environment. The decision to hire should be based entirely on qualifications, not the art that may or may not decorate your skin.

Those who say that tattoos are unprofessional may also be categorized as someone who stereotypes and discriminates. The statement implies that all people with tattoos are of lower intelligence, are criminal, or simply are not qualified which is too broad and general of an assumption to make.

However, with tattoos booming in this generation comes widespread acceptance. With TV shows like L.A. Ink, Ink Masters and Tattoo Nightmares the art has become popular among many.

Corporations are starting to change policies in “dress codes.” According to Support Tattoos and Piercings at Work in 2014, 28 major companies and hundreds of small businesses are changing policies regarding piercings and tattoos. Some of these corporations are the Bank of America and Olive Garden.

With corporations changing their policies, people will have better opportunity to express themselves without feeling questioned by corporations.


Abbey Whittington is a freshman journalism major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]