Lamar University Press Logo

Self expression through body art

UP graphic by Cade Smith


Tattoos have become a popular trend in today’s society, with television shows like “Ink Master,” “Tattoo Rescue,” “Ink Master Angels,” and the Facebook web series “Tattoo Shop.” Tattoos have also have gained popularity among athletes and celebrities, and for many of us, they have become a way to share stories and are a form of self-expression.

However, some employers deem tattoos to be unprofessional or trashy.

According to a recent poll by the advocacy organization Support Tattoos and Piercings at Work, 76 percent of potential employees felt that tattoos and piercings hurt their job interview chances. I went to an interview where a potential employer told me that if they hired me for the job I would have to cover my tattoos. But, my tattoos do not reflect on how well I am qualified for a job.

Employers who do not support tattoos tend to overlook someone’s resume and assume the tattoos mean the person is not a good worker or has a terrible work ethic. The Disney company recently relaxed their recruitment policy because they could not find enough qualified workers without tattoos.

When a company forces its staff to cover their tattoos, it hurts the company in the long-run. Employees will feel that the company does not respect their work ethic, choosing to see only the surface appearance rather than seeing the employee as an individual. However, when a company allows tattoos, workers will feel respected and are more likely to perform well.

If they know they may face discrimination, why do people get tattoos in the first place? The reasons are as many as there are types of tattoos. Many get “inked” because they have a significant meaning, such as to commemorate the death of a loved one or to represent one’s interests. I have tattoos that represent my fears, as a way to remind myself not to give into them. I have others that represent milestones in my life.Some people get tattoos because they like the art, or what they represent, in different cultures. Japanese-style tattoos have several meanings taken from their culture, religion and art. The Japanese koi fish image represents luck or new beginnings.

Despite what interviewees may believe, the Support Tattoos and Piercings at Work survey found that 73 percent of people said they would hire staff that had visible tattoos. Some employers allow visible tattoos if they are not vulgar or offensive.

As tattoos become more prevalent in society, they are becoming increasingly more mainstream. It is no longer the domain of sailors and prisoners, or the sign of a misspent youth.

Knowing someone’s motivation for getting a tattoo not only helps them get to know someone as an individual, but also to bring people together.

Tattoos should not hinder one’s ability to get a job, nor are they a negative reflection of a person’s work ethic.

Tattoos are a way of expressing one’s individuality. People should be judged, to paraphrase Martin Luther King, not by the image on their skin, but by the content of their character.

Story and graphic by Cade Smith, UP staff writer

Category: Opinion