The Tattoo Debate: To Ink or Not To Ink?
Tattoos and body piercings are becoming more and more commonplace, and like everything that increases in popularity, it also opens itself up to criticism. Strong opinions are evoked because […]
Tattoos and body piercings are becoming more and more commonplace, and like everything that increases in popularity, it also opens itself up to criticism. Strong opinions are evoked because in what I like to call a ‘marmite dichotomy’ people either love or hate them!
Yet, there is still a slight tattoo taboo. As students hoping to land jobs in the near future will being inked hinder our prospects? Or will society adjust? Will the popularity of tattoos fade much like the fashion for flared trousers or platform heels, leaving the inked in an indelibly-marked scrap-heap, or does the ink become not only part of your skin, but part of who you are?
The issue of body art is not at all straight-forward. Tattoos can be amazing, inspiring and beautiful and I think if they are done by an experienced and talented tattooist and have meaning for the individual, they are overwhelmingly spectacular. However, when ink is applied dodgily at some cut-price parlour, on a drunken night out on some Thai island, and you’re not even sure how it got there or what it says, then perhaps anti-tattoo anarchists have a point.
So, what is the law on tattoos in the workplace?
Well, I’m sorry to say that tattoos aren’t yet protected by workplace discrimination laws. Employers are well within their rights to refuse you a job on the basis of your body art, ask you to cover it up, or fire you if you don’t.
Maybe this will change, but in the meantime what do we do if we already have ink or visible piercings? Well, I don’t enjoy admitting this, but if we body art lovers want to be taken seriously when applying for a job we have to tone ourselves down. Cover up those tattoos, remove those more rebellious piercings and generally give a less original, less unique and frankly duller appearance. Once you’ve landed the job, and they’ve tested your mettle, you may be able to broach the subject with your employer. Perhaps they won’t mind your ink. Or, if you are someone tattooed up to the ears or you believe (quite understandably) that covering up denies your freedom of expression, you can always apply for a job that tolerates tattoos, or actively encourages them; such as alternative models, bar staff, entertainers, musicians, tattoo/artists etc. It all depends what career you are heading towards and how visible your ink is.
After weighing up the pros and cons, I find myself in a tricky position. I hope to get a job as a doctor in the not too distant future. I love tattoos and am well aware if I was to get inked, they would need to be invisible to my patients. However at present, I have 14 piercings, mostly visible. I don’t want to remove them but, at least until the law changes, I guess I may have to.
Should there be a law against tattoo discrimination in the workplace? Or do the public and employers need to chill out and accept body art? After all, as long as it is not offensive, who does it hurt? Have your say in the poll and comments below.