I have recently gotten a bit of a tattoo addiction. I only have one tattoo at the moment but I have about six more that I am planning to get. I was talking about this with my family when my father reminded me that I should only get them in places I could hide easily because it would affect my employability. I decided to do a bit of research into how much tattoos actually affect employment. I was shocked to find out that according to a study done by Comparecamp “70% of US and UK employers do not favor an employee with visible ink”. While I knew that it would be a factor, I did not think that it would be this significant. At this point I wanted to do a bit of research into the topic to see how much the stigma around tattoos has and hasn’t changed.
In terms of the social/societal side of tattoos, things have definitely become more positive. There is a significant increase of people with tattoos than in older generations. Different studies have shown that around 40% of millennials have tattoos whereas only around 12% of baby boomers have tattoos. My great grandfather used to say “tattoos are only for lowlifes and sailors” and while that might have been true in his time, society has moved beyond that. Increasingly tattoos are being celebrated and realized as a real artform. There are shows like ‘Ink Master’ that are dedicated to celebrating and truly appreciating the talent that is needed in order to be a good tattoo artist. Also, according to another study done by Comparecamp, 69% of people do not see people differently if they do or do not have any tattoos. These are just some small ways in which society is clearly more accepting of tattoos and more evidence for why they shouldn’t really matter in the workplace.
Although regardless how society has progressed it is still a very big issue. There is still the belief that hiring someone with tattoos will ‘taint a company’s image’ according to an article by Psychology Today. Reporter Daniel Thomas wrote a BBC article about this in 2019 which can be summed up by the statement he wrote saying, “Over the last five years there have been reports of electricians, consultants, airport workers and waitresses losing jobs, or being ruled out of them, because of their body art.” Another study done by Workopolis found that actually 77% of employers would be less likely to hire someone with tattoos as well. After looking at these statistics and reading people’s stories, I am simply beyond confused. Maybe it is naive to say this but, how is it that society has gotten more accepting towards tattoos yet it still is such an important factor of employment. What about it is unprofessional? It is simply a form of self-expression. Maybe it is because of the ingrained stigmas that surround tattoos but realistically, having tattoos does not say anything about your abilities, personality, or your professionalism. Maybe one day it will be less of a factor and people will not care about it.