What Is This, 1955? Survey Says Tattoos In The Office Are Still Taboo

When looking for a job in a corporate environment, those people who have visible tattoos generally decide to cover them up. It is a general approach because, anyone who has tattoos can tell you, walking into a suited-up office with a lot of ink isn't exactly a comfortable experience. Often its because of judgement, but it can also be because, hey, those people who opt for a lot of tattoos tend to not exactly be office-made. And apparently, those inked individuals who fancy themselves desk jockeys have a good reason to feel a little self-conscious.
According to The New York Times, "...a certain number of the tattooed work in sectors where it is considered undesirable, if not downright inappropriate, to wear your art on your sleeve." They then go on to cite that 61 percent of human resource managers at the Center for Professional Excellence at York College of Pennsylvania negatively view job applicants with tattoos — which strangely is higher than 2011's number. But in the same article, the Times points out that about 23 percent of Americans have a tattoo. Does this mean that almost a quarter of Americans have ink-based prejudice stacked against them?
The province of tattoos no longer belongs exclusively to sailors, bikers, or as the Times puts it, "Hollywood outliers like Angelina Jolie and Lena Dunham." While tattoos still signify an "alternative" lifestyle or a predilection towards the rebellious, they have also collectively become a sort of rite of passage or a legitimate way to memorialize an event or loved one. With Americans receiving more and more ink, it is reasonable to suspect that more and more people in the workplace will show up with a sleeve or two.

While detractors might note that it is impossible to take individuals with ink seriously, the best way to combat that bias is to, well, begin to take them seriously. (Note: As photographed above, the author of this piece has a particular bias — she is decently tattooed, with a quarter sleeve and a leg piece, and does not think the ink on her skin hinders her from doing her job.) Of course, it might be naive to think that visual prejudices don't matter, but with the increased amount of tattooed people in the workplace, it may be time to rethink what exactly tattoos signify.

Photo: Clarke Tolton & Sailor Jerry

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