Taboo of tattoos at work fading
In 2019, tattoo and piercing prejudices areon the decline.
Although 76 percent of employees feel tattoos and piercings hurt your job interview chances, 73 percent of employers say they would hire staff that had visible tattoos.
Only six percent of tattooed individuals say they wouldn’t hire someone else with visible ink, and only five percent of tattooed or pierced people say they’ve faced discrimination in their current job.
Sara Doude, a GC criminal justice professor, has eleven tattoos and one piercing.
“I am aware of the stigma around tattoos in the workplace,” Doude said. “It was much more heavy when I started getting tattoos in 1996 when I was a college freshman. Most of the time I would get tattoos in places where I could cover them up because my mom said, ‘You won’t ever get a job.’”
After joining GC’s faculty in 2005, she realized that while there is a lot of academic freedom, occasionally she was judged based on the tattoos she had.
“During my interview, I didn’t have any visible tattoos, but as I’ve worked here longer, I’ve gotten more visible tattoos,” Doude said.
As a reward for getting a promotion and tenure, she got her most recent neck tattoo of a dove, her favorite one thus far.
“It [her dove tattoo] symbolizes something for me,” Doude said. “I never thought I’d get a Ph.D., never thought I’d ever work at a place where I could actually be myself, and I consider being myself part of that is tattoos. When I walk into rooms as far as professional conferences go, I am assumed by accent and the way I look that I don’t know stuff, that I’m just a country hillbilly that has made bad decisions.”
However, at criminology conferences, which focus more on taboo subjects, she said she is viewed as more “normal.” To Doude, the most bothersome prejudice that comes along with tattoos is the assumption that she isn’t intelligent.
“I think policing has come a long way as far as generally having an audience that is into tattoos, and ex-military, etc,” Doude said. “They have become more and more open. Within higher education, self-expression is important, and that’s one of the best parts of this job.”
She has never had anyone on campus speak negatively about her tattoos within her 14 years as a GC professor.
“I feel like I relate to the college students more because they see me as myself and in a bold manner,” Doude said.
Keith Lee, a professor of political science and public administration, has 10 tattoos from his time in the Navy. Lee said he is fine with the idea of tattoos in the workplace and does not discriminate.
“One of my favorite places to go as a kid was The Grill in Athens,” Lee said. “It was the one place where you’d see dyed hair, piercings, tattoos. It was unique especially in the South because even now you get glances when you have tattoos.”
Lee said he does think that tattoos and piercings might prevent someone from getting a job. He acknowledged that tattoos have become more widely accepted but said there is still a long way to go.
“There is still taboo/stigma around it,” Lee said. “I have a friend, he just got a job as a professor, and he has a tattoo on his neck, and even when he wears a dress shirt you can still see the top, and that’s a worry. While our ideas and views on professionalism are evolving, I think for student looking at going into a workforce, I would caution them to only get tattoos that can be covered.”
Lee said he does sometimes regret getting tattoos because of trying to explain the tattoo’s meaning, but at the same time, each of his tattoos are significant for where he was at a certain point in life, and he has consciously thought through his decision to get each one.
“At the end of the day, I am happy with all of them and would not change my tattoos,” Lee said.
He related that the policing of one’s appearance bothers him and said he wishes that as a society we would move beyond that and not align a person’s credibility and professionalism with how they appear.
Aaron Castroverde, a Spanish professor at GC, has five tattoos on his upper arms and forearms. His first tattoo was the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which he got when he was 20 years old.
Castroverde said he does not regret any of his tattoos.
“When you do it, it is a move to permanently mark yourself with a certain idea, and whether you change your mind later on, you’re still marked with that idea, so I could never regret it and will probably get more,” Castroverde said. “I don’t think I ever wanted a normal job. In a certain way, I wanted to be marked as a person that could never be a banker.”
Castroverde recalled a time when he was ordering at Chipotle and one of the workers said, “Hey are you a musician?” in reference to his tattoos.
“It [the stigma] does seem less now than it was before, but perhaps even when I did it, it was less then,” Castroverde said.
Castroverde concluded by discussing the new wave of economic change in society and how conformity is lessening in the workplace, and more multiplicity and variety is becoming commonplace.
Graphic by Rachael Alesia | Graphic Designer