After reading the Tattoo Artist Magazine Blog post on the subject of tattoos in the workplace, I felt compelled to add my ‘2 cents’ on the subject.
Many of you may already know I have a love for what is generally deemed as the “alternative” in life, I have shared my journey as a tattooed women before. With multiple tattoos and a fair few piercings, much to the consistent worry of my loving parents, it is a subject I touch on quite often.
But guess what society, I am modified yet I am employed, and I am most certainly NOT a criminal!
Why are tattoos still seen as a negative in society?
Tattoos have been around for hundreds if not thousands of years. You would think by now, that the world would be able to accept them as a normal part of society.
However if you look at just the last 100 years, the world has moved on in such a hurry that we are still living amongst generations where it was understood that tattoos were a sign of something negative or bad.
Japanese tattoos for example have a beautiful history, and were used as a secret sign of wealth before the Yakuza adopted the body suits, leading many people to believe that they are now a sign of being a criminal.
Tattoos were and still are sometimes seen to represent that you are a part of a gang, that you are rough around the edges and are generally a bit of an intimidating trouble maker!
I feel I cannot blame employers for being concerned about the repercussions of having an obviously modified person in their workforce, and what it would say to the public. Considering the immediate impression tattoos and piercings leave on the public, even in this modern forward thinking society, I truly believe we cannot expect large corporations to accept it. Not just yet anyhow… So lets work on it!
We have to appreciate the differences in our generations in order to help promote a positive response to being modified, from the general public.
My boyfriend Daniel is a great example, shown in the photos above. Dan is a full-time professional geek (works with databases, SQL etc…), intelligent, conscientious and a great asset to any business. However beneath the surface he has a fair amount of tattoo coverage.
What conclusion do you jump to after judging each photo separately?
Whatever your judgment is, regardless what you see in any of the photos it is likely to be wrong. To know anything about anyone, you really do have to get to know them.
So as I know Dan very well, I will describe him: Loving, thoughtful, geeky, silly, a great cook and my greatest support in life. Yet I am sure that doesn’t come across in the photos right?
But now you have heard my description, think of this as you look at him again.
Why have tattoos become more popular in the past 20 – 30 years than ever before in mainstream society?
My generation (late 80’s baby) arrived in this world in a free and liberating time. We were too young to understand politics, or the hardships older generations had suffered in the past. Yet we could easily understand and involve ourselves in pop culture.
We saw MTV evolve and the likes of Madonna being casually sexual on TV. We saw rock legends having the times of their lives, drinking themselves into oblivion and loving it! We learnt about ‘Girl Power’, indie culture and raves! And that is just a brief glimpse of the music we were exposed to. Think of how TV and Movies have evolved too!
In the western world, we grew up with the understanding expressing yourself and living a colourful existence is what got you ahead in life or noticed. Being alternative was the new normal. To get somewhere in a rapidly increasing population, you had to strive to be weirder, wilder and brighter!
In which case, is it any wonder that about 20 years ago a modified person was being the 1 in 100? Now it is closer to being 1 in 10 people who have a tattoo / body modification.
In 20 years time things will be very different again. I hope they will be positive progressions, and we will see more people respecting tattoos as an art form.
My generation will be one of the most colourful and in time, we will see more and more employers accepting having a tattoo doesn’t mean you are a bad person. It will be embraced as a true art form!
To help continue promoting the positive side of collecting art on our bodies, we must strive to be the good example. We must be accepting of others, kind, polite and thoughtful. We must prove that the modified nation are, in general, just human beings, with the same capacity for love and ambition as anyone else. We are still a great asset to society even if we like to colour ourselves in. We are not all (like previously believed) unemployed ragamuffins that are rude and intimidating!
In fact, while immersing myself in the UK tattoo community over the past 6 years or so, I have found that the majority of the artists / tattoo collectors are truly inspiring individuals. Not just in the art they produce, but the presence they hold within their community through charitable events, volunteering and the exceptional strides they’ve made in making their businesses ethical.
Some of my closest friends who are heavily tattooed are humble very hard-working family men / women, and I have witnessed just how devoted they are as parents. Then I have bumped into old friend with NO tattoos swearing at their children in public. There is good and bad in everyone, regardless how they look!
Check out these adorable images of tattooed parents. Does having body modifications make them love each other any less do you think?
Acceptance has always been a tough issue, and not just in regards to tattoos, or the workplace . We still struggle with equality in many areas, but we have to remember we are all just people. This poem says it all for me, especially the last part in bold:
Everything you take for granted is a blessing. Everything you fear is a friend in disguise. Everything you want is a part of you. Everything you hate you hate about yourself. Everything you own does not define you. Everything you feel is the only Truth there is to know.
Everything you wish for is already on its way to you. Everything you think creates your life. Everything you seek for you will find. Everything you resist will stick around. Everything you let go of stays if it’s supposed to. Everything you need is right where you are.
Every time you bless another your bless yourself. Every time you blame another you lose your power. Every time you think you can, you can. Every time you fall you must get up and try again. Every time you cry you’re one tear closer to joy. Every time you ask for forgiveness, all you have to do is forgive yourself.
Everyone you see is your reflection. Everyone you know mirrors you. Everyone wants to be happy. Everyone wants to live in joy. Everyone seeks a higher purpose. Everyone breathes the same breath. Everyone needs love to survive. Everyone has a purpose to fulfil.
Everyone’s the same as everyone else. We just get caught up in labels, names, skin colour and religion. Everyone’s the same as everyone else. No one wants to feel the pain. Everyone’s the same as everyone else. Everyone is dying for love to remain.
– Jackson Kiddard
How do we help the world progress towards acceptance of tattoos?
I really feel we have to accept that we still live amongst generations who do not appreciate those aspects. I am tattooed, but those pieces of art are for me. I rarely have them on show (mostly in the summer they tend to appear), and within my working environment I respect that my role is as part of a team and to do my job well. If that means making a better impression on customers by not forcing my colourful side on them, then so be it!
Many people find themselves getting angry and upset that they didn’t get picked for a role because of the modifications on their body. Yes, it sucks, but if you are the type of person who wants to openly share that colourful side to the world, and this employer doesn’t like that, then they are not the right fit for you anyway, surely? If you really want that role, then be respectful of their job requirements and cover up when you are working and just show it off outside of working hours!
I am lucky with my employment. I am in an office for an international company, where we deal with prestigious clients from all over the world! As I have said, I never really show my tattoos while at work, but all who know me here know I have them.
A lot of my colleagues hear that I am off to get a new one and come to talk to me about it. There are many who have openly said they would never have one and they can find people with them intimidating, but they still take the time to ask me about one of my passions. The same as I would ask about their family life, or their hobbies. Maybe it is something I wouldn’t do myself, but I work closely with these people, we need to be excited about our diversity and learn from each other!
So, I know I have waffled rather a lot on this one today. Tattoos are a huge part of my life and I am passionate about showing a different side to this industry. They are not the only thing I am passionate about of course! I love to write, fundraise, go shoe shopping and hug! Yes I am not joking, I am really passionate about hugs! They will bring about world peace one day, you’ll see!
I am naturally very creatively minded, tattoos are just a small part of that side of me. They just visually shout the loudest!
Here are a few of my favourite tattooed and modified people who run their own very successful businesses.
What are your thoughts on tattoos in this modern society? Have you ever experienced negative reactions to your body modifications and how did you handle it?
I would be really interested in hearing what you all think about this subject! Feel free to leave a comment below!
Some photos on this post are not mine and have been taken from other blog pages / through Google searches. I have provided credit where I can, but if you have any issue with the images I have shared or wish for me to credit you please get in touch.