It’s Just a Tat

I want to get a star tattooed on my face over my eye and my grandmother’s name across my neck. To be honest I want every empty spot on my body tatted or pierced.  Will I be denied employment if I do? That’s a question that many young people ask themselves. Some are even afraid to entertain the thought, but many like me aren’t afraid to challenge the masses. I was told not to get my hands and fingers done, and especially not the face. When I’m told I can’t or shouldn’t do something I’m going to do it and not just to be rebellious, but to prove that I can. Tats are everywhere: schools, offices, restaurants, you name it. According to CBS News, “there was a time when wearing a tattoo or body piercing drew stares and looks of disdain, but these days body art has broken out of the biker bars and into the mainstream. It’s even in the workplace.” I would like to emphasize upon our freedom to tattoo ourselves and sustain gainful employment. Tattoos have become widely accepted in society, but discriminated in the workplace. The generation entering the new job market is unashamedly tatted loose inspired by athletes and hip hop artists in the public eye. Their ability to perform at work and find employment should really not be judged by their tattoos, just as much as their skin color.

Doing so actually disables us from exercising our right to freedom of speech.  In the 2012 case of Coleman v. City of Mesa, Scott Shackford noted that tattooing is by law protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In the ruling, Arizona Supreme Court followed the likes of Anderson v. City of Hermosa Beach in 2010. “We conclude that the approach in Anderson is most consistent with First Amendment case law and the free speech protections under Arizona’s constitution. Anderson starts with the proposition that a tattoo itself is pure speech. This seems incontrovertible.” The Constitution looks beyond written or spoken words as mediums of expression,’ and the Supreme Court recognized that the First Amendment protects a range of expressive activity including parades, music, paintings, and topless dancing.” The panel in Anderson’s case stated that, “a form of speech does not lose First Amendment protection based on the kind of surface it is applied to. As Americans we have the right to our own verbal and artistic expressions, but that’s not to say whether they should be accepted. Tattoos for one, are harmless, and can be rather attractive. We tell our employees how not to wear their hair or nails, what colors to wear, take out your piercings, cover your tattoo, don’t eat red meat, really there’s no room for individual creativity in a common workplace.

Although we see much more tattoos in today’s economy, there are still many grounded in the old ways. That is what I protest this change. As young Americans pursuing a college education, we are key factors in the evolution of change. Our behavior determines the economics of our children’s future. We are the change, and we are responsible for those less fortunate. In that, many don’t have the power to speak up for themselves or even know how. I don’t see a lot of visible tattoos in class, maybe because of work related issues or fear that that may create one, but outside everyone downtown is tatted like Lil Wayne. I’m upset that they are in the streets and not inside a place of legitimate business. These are the types of change we need to enforce. Look outside the box, if you don’t have any noticeable tats think about those that do and you’ll find a pool of misdirected youth that may not see any other way but the street.  The face of the job market honestly does not cater to that street mentality. That discourages those who don’t look the part, but have the desire in their heart. In my travels I encounter some interesting people, mostly tatted. I love their originality. Those conformed to their nine to five are rather bland and can use a few party starters in their office.

Again in CBS News, “tattoos and piercings are not the career killers they once were. Many companies in all industries have no problem with body art. Employees of all walks of life are sporting body art from doctors’ receptionists to TV news anchors. Even those who are prepping the workforce of the future: college educators. The Army and Navy have also relaxed their tattoo policy on worries over lack of recruits.” “New research finds twenty-three percent of college students have one to three tattoos and thirty-six percent of eighteen to twenty-nine year olds have tattoos.”  has guidelines for when it is appropriate to display tattoos at work and Kat Von D came out with tattoo makeup in 2009 to cover tattoos. The trend is spreading like wildfire. Before kids were happy with just one tattoo, today you could never have enough.

Before I conclude I want to give you an example of a young woman named Courtney Pecola. She is a proud New Hampshire resident with New Hampshire’s lilacs across her chest and her area code 603 on her wrist. She’s not a gangsta, she is the vice president of a franchise called ZB Sports and was hired with her tattoos noticeably visible. Neither she nor her boss paid her tats any mind. In fact her boss, Jim Hoisington says, “Courtney is one of the brightest women I know. If I had passed on her because of her tattoos, I’d be out one phenomenal employee””Because you don’t like it or it offends you or your conservative in the workplace, I think you’ll miss a whole talent pool of people who are very bright, well educated, smart and free thinking. It’s a shame. You never want to do that. You have to evolve.”  This is the attitude I challenge every high nosed corporation to install in their policies, changing the face of the job market to welcome the new free thinking and evolved youth. You can get with the times or fall behind. It’s your loss not mine.

Works Cited:

  • “Tattoos Becoming More Accepted At Work,” by Caitlin A. Johnson

/CBS/ February 11, 2009, 5:25pm

  • “Tattoos, Free Speech, and the Constitution,” by Damon W. Root

September 10, 2012, 608pm


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