Depending on where you are at any given moment, chances are you will see someone with a tattoo. Tattoos along with their owners come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and they have come a long way from being considered taboo. Or have they? There are certain career paths in the corporate world that come with expectations in terms of appearance. Although we live in America, land of individualism and civil liberties, these unwritten rules can intimidate young people. You would never want to stifle your career aspirations right?
This past weekend, while dodging hyperactive shoppers in a crowded mall, a friend and I passed by a man with tattoos. It wasn’t the typical body art however, as there were no tribal bands, no mention of “Mom,” or half-naked pin-up girls in sight. This man, who appeared to be in the forty-fifty year old range, was completely covered from head to toe, complete with tattoos all over his face and head. My friend and I continued walking, but once we were out of ear shot she whipped around and in a hushed tone asked “Oh my God, did you see that guy with all those tattoos!?”
I’m positive that the man knows he generates similar reactions on a day-to-day basis, and probably revels in it to some degree. It takes a certain amount of charisma and self-confidence to put yourself on display for the world to see, which is a great quality to have. I couldn’t help but wonder what his life was like; do people stare for awkward lengths of time complete with double takes? Do they heckle him directly to his face and comment negatively on his appearance? Never mind the fact it probably cost him thousands of dollars and countless hours to get to the point that he is at now, what if he had to get them removed for a job? Is there a point of no return when it comes to tattoos?
From the suit and tie perspective, anything that makes you stand out is viewed as bad for business. In the past, young men would just simply be told that they needed to cut their hair and get a shave, and many African-Americans were shunned when they chose to wear their natural hair texture in an afro style. Now that we are in the post-affirmative action era and we hold onto being ‘politically correct,’ companies can no longer make those types of comments or restrict their employees without fear of being sued. Instead, what these businesses have done is enforce a set of implicit guidelines and regulations. We all know if we want to get one of these jobs, we have to look the part — but why is that?
Whether we want to admit it or choose to ignore it for the sake of being ‘PC,’ we still judge others based on how they look and this is an unfortunate fact about human kind. The freedoms that we enjoy and fought for in here in the United States also created an environment for Americans to express their individuality through various mediums. At the same time, if anything or anyone goes against the grain, conformists will feel the need to speak up about it. So when it comes down to tattoos, it is all relative to how the person is perceived. Take the featured image of this article for example. If you had a medical emergency, society says that you should trust the man on the left more than the man on the right to have the proper training and knowledge to save your life. The key part of this example is that the judgment is based on what society thinks, as if society is an actual person that will directly tell you what to do or say. The millennial generation is getting tattooed in very rapid succession, to the point that some religious outlets have called it alarming. I know I’m a part of said statistic, with two tattoos and a nose ring, and plans for a few more tattoos. I’ve realized that now it’s getting to the point where you can be teased if you do not have any kind of body art. Where do you draw the line between being ridiculed for having too many and laughed at for not having any at all?
For all I know, the man I saw in the mall could have had a Ph.D., but very few people think to stop and ask the guy why he has so many tattoos and get background information. My advice is, as usual, to be smart when making a decision. I’m sorry to burst anyone’s bubble, but you’re most likely not going to be the next Lil’ Wayne or Carmelo Anthony, and therefore shouldn’t invest all of that time and money into dozens of tattoos that may be obscene or offensive. Sadly, high-profile people can get away with ‘murder,’ so in this instance they can get all the tattoos they could ever want. This does not mean that someone else isn’t judging them, but the emphasis that the American media places on celebrities ensures an audience who will marvel at all of the ink.
If you can cover any visible tattoo, or get them placed in areas that can’t be seen unless you’re in a bathing suit, then by all means go for it. A tattoo should be something personal and meaningful to you, and if you really love the idea of getting something on your wrist or the back of your neck; just realize that there are still people in charge that may not be too happy about it. Tattoos may fade away from being taboo in the future, but that’s only if enough millennials obtain positions of power twenty or thirty years down the line. By then, it’ll be pretty hard for the interviewer to object to a small tattoo when they’ve got a huge back piece hiding underneath their suit.