Tattoos in the Workplace: Moving Beyond the Stigma

By: Emma Atherton, CLASS OF 2017

Tattoos have long been highly stigmatized in our society. Tattoos in the United States first started becoming popular among seamen in the nineteenth century. By getting an assortment of original tattoos, a sailor’s body would be identifiable after being lost at sea. As tattooing became more and more popular among sailors, it spread around shipyards among workers who were considered very “low class.” The employment at the shipyards was only at very thankless and low-income jobs. Simultaneously, tattoos became popular among criminals in prison. So tattoos became associated with the “lower class” and criminals. However, today, tattoos represent so much more than they are given credit for.

Attitudes are changing. If you look around Greenville you can see people in their place of work sporting visible tattoos. I have seen tattooed professionals everywhere from PetSmart to my dog’s vet. Right now, even the most high-level professions – such as doctors – do not mind if one has visible tattoos as long as one is willing wear clothes that hide the tattoos while in the work environment. If one has a full sleeve of tattoos, he or she is likely to be asked to wear long sleeves every day, but it will not keep said person from being hired altogether.

Other positions will not even have that requirement. Many jobs allow tattoos to be visible in the work place. I have spotted visible tattoos on waiters and waitresses in a 5-star restaurant, on workers at hotels, on cashiers and managers at every kind of store. We live in a progressive time. As tattoos become a more regular occurrence, the stigma on them reduces. As someone highly fascinated with tattoos, I have taken note on how visible tattoos can actually be on everyone: from mothers and fathers in a grocery stores, to single men in Banana Republic, to the independent feminist professional at a book store, to innumerable college students (obviously).

I have a tattoo covering my entire back – a piece that has taken more than 14 hours overall and is still in progress. I have a visible tattoo on my left inner forearm and also have plans to get a half sleeve above that. Hopefully, with the way society is progressing, the stigma against tattoos will continue to diminish until it is gone altogether. These days, I am always getting complimented on how pretty my tattoos are when in public.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s