A tattoo can bridge a gap or create a divide in the way people react to each other.
The conflict arises when these people seek employment.
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, an employer has the right to define an acceptable dress code for employees as long as the code doesn’t discriminate or hinder one’s gender, race, color, religion, age, nationality or origin.
These policies could create divisions because in recent years body art has been gaining momentum in popularity. A study from Harris Interactive in 2008 found that 14 percent of all adults have at least one tattoo and 32 percent of 25- to 29-year-olds have tattoos.
Student and computer center staff member Patrick Tomlinson has never hidden his tattoos from his employers. He recently explained the reason why he has his tattoos.
“I’m not getting tattoos just because I like the look of them,” he said. “I get them because they’re my heart and personality; they show the characteristics of who I am.”
Although almost 15 percent of adults are getting inked, some people believe employers should be able to hire people depending on their visible body art.
Nathan Gilchrist, an employee at Lids and student at Pierce, wears a bandage on his left hand to cover his tattoo while at work.
“Money is more important to me than my appearance,” he says.
When asked how he would feel if his children chose to get a tattoo, Tom Broxson, division chair and geography instructor at Pierce College, said they should have that right to choose.
“I would want them to think very carefully about it. It’s a permanent thing,” Broxson said.
There is still hope for gainful employment for those who lead this different lifestyle. Many companies hire employees with visible body art to represent the open-mindedness of the company and welcome in the younger generations who may feel less comfortable in the environment of the more conservative type.
Whole Foods, Hot Topic, Big Lots, Ikea and Petco are just a few that have made the ever-growing list. Perhaps part of this influx of body art acceptance is that younger people are working in hiring positions. The website modifiedmind.com has an extensive list of regulations on various jobs regarding the subject of exposed ink.
Along with the increase in the number of people getting inked, tattoo parlors in the United States have been growing since the early ‘90s. More than 20,000 parlors currently operate in the nation with a new one added every day. Tattooing was ranked the sixth fastest growing retail venture of the 1990s, according to U.S. News & World Report.
As much as the clothing people wear or the music they listen to can define them, so can the art they place on their bodies. It’s a decision that will last a lifetime, and possibly influence those around them.
“My tattoos have become a part of me.” says Justin Goetze, a 21-year-old student at Pierce College. “It’s not that it’s changed me as a person, but it has kept me who I am, and it’s helped me from straying away from the person that I want to be, and I know I am.”
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