Tattoos, piercings: Should they be visible at work?
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Tattoos, piercings: Should they be visible at work?

Killian Hicks , Ashlyn Dupree, [email protected], [email protected]

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Throughout most of American history, tattoos meant one of two things- you were a sailor or an outlaw. Tattoos have been viewed as something that sets someone apart as being violent or on the edge of society. And anyone who had tattoos was seen as someone to fear. But in 2019, things are viewed differently. In modern American society, tattoos are common and our workplace rules should be adapted to the ever-changing culture.
According to History of Tattoos, 36 percent of Americans between the age of 18 and 29 have at least one tattoo. Of those, 72 percent have more than one tattoos. That is around 45 million people in the U.S. alone. If any visible tattoos or piercings are banned from jobs and prohibit people from being hired, there will be many people discriminated against because they chose to have tattoos or piercings.
One of the most common complaints is that tattoos are unprofessional. But shouldn’t someone’s work ethic and actions make them unprofessional and not tattoos? I think so. There are many Fortune 500 companies like Amazon and Apple that have implemented a business casual dress code and those businesses now allow visible tattoos and piercings at the workplace.
Another common misconception about tattoos and the workplace is that it will scare away customers from the business. According to Daily American, 97 percent of American adults would not change current shopping habits if the employees have visible tattoos or piercings. As long as the consumer’s needs are met, it does not matter if the workers have any tattoos or piercings. This goes back to the fact that tattoos do not change someone’s professionalism, their actions do.
If tattoos and piercings are more acceptable in the workplace, this shouldn’t allow any vulgar or offensive tattoos. The rule of thumb for most businesses that allow tattoos to be visible is that if you would not wear it on a t-shirt to work, you shouldn’t have a visible tattoo with an offensive or graphic design.
In the modern era, we are realizing that tattoos are works of art and our bodies are canvases if we choose them to be. In no way should this harm someone’s chances of getting a job. The quality of work ethic and professionalism that someone has is what should determine if they would make a good employee or not.
I currently have five tattoos and plan on getting more. So far I have not faced any discrimination because of it but I probably will one day. I hope that business owners will realize it is time to change the archaic practices of discrimination because someone has a visible tattoo or piercing.



Tattoos and piercings- they are stopping you from getting that job or promotion you want.

Tattoos and piercings may look cool, but in the end, it’s wrecking your career. Cover your tattoos or take your piercings out because you are working for a conservative generation.

In 2018, a study found that hiring managers prefer that potential employees don’t have tattoos, according to Inc. Also, applicants with extreme tattoos were viewed as less competent and committed than those without body art.

Unfortunately, zero states have laws protecting people with tattoos from discrimination in company hiring practices, according to Job Monkey.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not against someone having tattoos or piercings. You should keep your tattoos or piercings out of the sight of your employer and customers.

In the society we live in today, your likelihood of getting hired is less than those without tattoos. Why is it a big deal to hide your tattoos and piercings? I’ll tell you why.

As a child, I remember eating at Olive Garden and the waiter had tattoos. The adults said it was unprofessional to have your tattoos visible.

A couple years later, when we went to eat at Olive Garden, my dad, who worked closely with Olive Garden, said it was now required for the waiters to keep their tattoos covered. If the tattoos were seen, that person would be fired.

The older generation doesn’t view tattoos as acceptable. And right now, this is the generation that has the power in corporate businesses. According to a 2016 Harris Poll, nearly half of millennials and over a third of Generation X have at least one tattoo while only around 10 percent of baby boomers and matures have one tattoo.

While you may think it is ridiculous to cover your tattoos and piercings, your boss may not because they were raised on different values. And it’s okay to have different values, but we have to respect our bosses’ rules and policies- even if we don’t agree. 

Some may argue that we have the right to show our tattoos and piercings because of free speech, but with free speech comes responsibility- the responsibility to know what’s worth fighting over. And to me, fighting over whether to cover your tattoos and piercings or not is a bad reason.

Arguing with your future employer about covering your tattoos should not be your main priority. They are your boss. They own the company and created the company’s policies.

Respect those in power now and eventually,  you may be the boss. You may get to change the policies. But as of right now, listen to your boss and cover up the tattoos and piercings.