Posted on: January 27, 2022 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

Graphic by Sarah Schudt

Growing up, I always saw myself getting tattoos. Both of my parents are tattooed, and I spent a lot of time in a tattoo shop as a child. My dad, my stepmom and I even got matching tattoos when I turned 18. But being so interested in body modification from a young age has always raised a question: What will I do when I enter my career?

Rosie Finnegan

Opinion Editor

Visible tattoos have almost always been considered unprofessional. Even hairstylists have been asked to cover any tattoos they may have, and most teachers and people in office jobs have had to conceal their permanent artwork. Young people are often asked to consider their future careers before making the commitment to a tattoo.

But unlike some tattoos, the issue is not completely black and white. Some people view the link between tattoos and professionalism as unfair and outdated, but tattooed people are still the minority. According to Arthur Zuckerman from CompareCamp, 15 percent of men and 13 percent of women in the United States had tattoos as of 2020. 

Although we should consider our future careers when making choices about putting something on our bodies permanently, people should not have to throw away part of their self expression to get a good job. 

“Tattoos are not the measure of someone’s dependability or skill,” Jordan Hart points out in an article in The Cougar titled “Tattoos don’t determine professionalism.”

Getting a tattoo is a personal decision, just like deciding what clothes to wear every morning.

Some people argue that not allowing tattoos is the same as having a company dress code. An employer may not allow tattoos the same way it does not allow flip-flops. Although some may view this kind of policy as unfair, it may just be a product of the industry, where everyone is meant to look very clean-cut and organized. Individuality may not work with the company’s desired brand, no matter what opinion someone has on that. 

There is also the case of objectively unprofessional tattoos. If your ink has curse words or something considered not safe for work, understandably, an employer may want you to cover up.

Whatever people decide to put on their bodies permanently is their choice, but critical thinking should be exercised when considering placement and content. 

As college students, we are supposed to be preparing ourselves for the workforce. There are plenty of places that you can ink without having to worry about future employment. It may be best to avoid tattooing your hands or neck until you are sure that your chosen career will allow that, but if you do truly love tattoos, it may not be so bad to have to wear long sleeves when you are at work.

Personally, I feel that tattoos absolutely have a place in professionalism. If someone is able to make a permanent decision like a tattoo, that shows responsibility. And getting stabbed for multiple hours can show resilience.

Unless the content of a visible tattoo is outwardly offensive, I do not see why it should not be allowed in the workplace. As someone who wants to own my own business in the future, I would love to hire people with tattoos. It is so interesting to me to see how people have decided to permanently decorate their bodies. Instead of being punished, it should be celebrated.

Although it seems that the world is starting to shift its view on these permanent pieces of art, decisions about body modifications such as tattoos and piercings still require careful consideration. After all, this will be on your body for the rest of your life–unless you choose to get it removed later on. If being heavily tattooed is what you want in life, research the career you are pursuing. In the end, it may have to come down to which you want more: a dream career or a permanent collection of artwork.

Either way, I will not be canceling my next tattoo appointment.