To Ink or Not to Ink…

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I was scheduled to go for a job interview the other day. My youngest son delicately advised me to be sure I wore long sleeves to cover my tattoos. He informed me I’d look more “professional”.This seemed unnessary to me because I never even think about my tattoos. I’ve had them so long they’ve become a part of me. Just as I don’t think about the scar on my lip from a fall as a toddler, I don’t give a second thought to my tattoos. I’d never consider covering my lip, so why would it occur to me to cover my tattoos?

My son’s comment, however, got me thinking. Are tattoos becoming more mainstream and accepted? How about tattoos in the workplace? When I worked at WalMart as a cashier I received alot of comments about my tattoos. Most of them favorable. People often asked me where I had them done, what the initials stood for and what the celtic symbols meant. Women in particular often told me how much they admired my “tats”. It was never an issue at WalMart, a company considered to be ultra-conservative. In fact, WalMart only requires employees to cover tattoos if they’re offensive.

Employers still continue to turn down prospective employees because of their tattoos. Many workers are required to cover up their tattoos on the job. Although many employees are beginning to challenge the legality of appearance policies, companies usually end up winning. Companies can continue to impose these policies as long as they don’t discriminate. But employers must implement policies uniformly for both men and women to avoid gender discrimination.

When you consider that approximately half of all people in their 20’s have at least one tattoo/and or an untraditional body piercing you know there will come a point when employers will have to become more open minded about hiring employees with tattoos. Or maybe we’ll just have to wait until these 20 somethings become managers and lighten things up on body art. 

So, no, I did not cover my tattoos for my interview. I confess I did tug at my shirt a few times to attempt to cover them with my short sleeve shirt. After a few tugs, my perspective employer said, “You know, you don’t have to worry about your tattoos. I know you have them, they don’t bother me and I respect your right to express yourself.” Of course I was fortunate to interview with such a free thinking employer and I ended up getting the job despite the tats.

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