Are you tattooed and employed, or someone who's been discriminated against by those who think you shouldn't have visible tattoos in the workplace? With the growing popularity of tattoos in American culture, the subject of tattoos in the workplace is a hot topic. Are visible tattoos okay in some professions but not others? Some people still think so.
The stigma is that it's unacceptable to see tattoos on an accountant or other "white collar" worker's neck or hands, but many people who'd be bothered by that wouldn't be surprised if they saw tattoos on their mechanic or other "blue collar" workers they know. Why do so many people think professionals suddenly become incapable of doing their jobs if they have visible tattoos, or that tattoos limit people to working certain types of jobs? Many white collar workers have hidden tattoos these days--sometimes covering their backs, arms, chests, legs, and even feet. They put on dress shirts, slacks and ties, and no one's the wiser. They go about their jobs every day, making pitches, writing proposals, landing accounts, making sales, and generally kicking butt at their jobs, yet if some of their clients found out they were covered in tattoos, there's a chance they'd lose them to someone "more professional". And if their employers found out, they might even lose their jobs.
How did this mindset develop, making it tolerable for some classes of workers to have tattoos but not others? Tattoos have long been thought of as taboo--something rebels get to be defiant and different from everyone else. In the past, "normal" people believed that only Yakuza (Japanese mafia members), soldiers, sailors, and bikers got tattoos. Now an ever-growing percentage of the population is tattooed; Statistic Brain reported in December 2013 that 36% of Americans ages 18-25 and 40% of Americans ages 26-40 have at least one tattoo. Slowly but surely, tattoos have become an acceptable form of self-expression. Tattooing is an art form that's gaining more notoriety and respect with every day that passes. Tattooers are being recognized as true artists, and human bodies are the canvases that display their masterpieces.
With this change in society's perception of tattoos and the number of people who now have them, employers are having to change their standards, too, to make sure they don't overlook potentially invaluable employees because of their body mods. Not every employer's on board about visible tattoos and piercings in the workplace yet, but things are finally trending in the right direction. This societal shift is in large part thanks to the support of brands like Steadfast, who's behind the line of "Tattooed and Employeed" apparel we carry, as well as smaller groups that have taken a stand and quickly gained the support of the body mod community--groups like STAPAW: Support Tats And Piercings At Work. They started an Instagram group to help a pregnant friend who lost her job after the holidays because of her mods. Through their efforts, their friend got her job back, and more than 20,000 fans later, they're able to focus more on celebrating how different tattooed and pierced people make their livings. It's companies and groups like these as well as strong individuals around the country who are paving the way for the rest of the body mod community.
As with other types of discrimination this country has worked to end--from slavery to suffrage to internment to segregation and every other trial and tribulation we've overcome--body mod enthusiasts will break down the walls that block their paths one by one. So stand tall, be proud of your mods, and kick ass at whatever work you do. It's YOUR time to shine!