Tattoos and Professionalism

The stigma behind getting tattoos is changing with the times. 
PHOTO// Allef Vinicius from Unsplash

The stigma behind getting tattoos is changing with the times. PHOTO// Allef Vinicius from Unsplash

Samantha Carvallo, Design & Marketing Manager

We are the tattooed generation.

This despite us being constantly told by our parents that we will never be accepted into the working world with permanent ink on our bodies. This narrative is becoming more meaningless with each passing year. Tattoos are being normalized by this generation, and older generations will have to accept them. 

Each generation of style never becomes successful without taboo. Whether it stems from personal opinion or brand image, there will always be some form of judgment that comes along with the choices we make regarding our appearances. Take, for example, the “long hair” stigma faced in the 1970s and 1980s. Five Man Electrical Band put it very plainly in their 1971 single “Signs.” ‘And the sign says ‘long-haired freaky people need not apply.’ So I tucked all my hair up under my hat and I went to ask him why. He said, ‘You look like a fine young man – I think you’ll do.’ Then I took off my hat and said, ‘Imagine that! Me working for you.’” 

Even back then, having long, poofy and windswept hair signified to “adults” that those individuals could not be accepted as hard-working citizens. The “grungy” look now parallels this reproach. We are looked at as misfits. Isn’t it ironic how history can repeat itself?

Let’s set the record straight. Getting tattoos is no longer about being rebellious, it is now a form of self-expression. We enter college with the expectation to find ourselves, and if getting a tattoo helps us do that, then so be it. It is entirely a personal decision to change our appearances and should not give employers the right to discriminate. 

According to Statista, roughly 64% of Gen Zers and Millennials have tattoos. We are entering the workforce en masse. That percentage is only going to increase with time, so avoiding policy changes to company images is shortsighted and unreasonable. With the current, unsteady state of the economy, turning away potential employees for reasons concerning our looks feels almost excessive.

Our generation is multi-talented and highly skilled in many areas. Judge us on our talents. Not our tattoos.