In my previous post on firefighters’ tattoos I touched briefly on the issue of employee dress codes.
A hundred years ago, tattoos were quite the in thing amongst the upper crust. All kinds of aristocrats had ink in various places and there was no social stigma involved. On the contrary, it was something enjoyed by the sophisticated creme de la creme.
Over time, however, the tattoo became associated in the public psyche with sailors, circus performers, bikers, hippies, gang members, convicts and other supposedly undesirable elements, and despite the increased popularity of tattooing today, and the numbers of “mainstream” people who are getting inked, the stigma of bad associations gone by still lingers.
Thus, many employers (who tend to be conservative) want nothing to do with people who have visible tattoos (or piercings other than the occasional earring or two). Image is everything in many workplaces, and heaven forbid the nice lady who takes your bank deposit, or the guy who deals with your investment, or the people who fight fires or arrest crooks, have any visible ink. Not that anyone can prove that being tattooed affects their performance in any way. It just doesn’t LOOK good.
Have we really become a nation of Fernandos? (Billy Crystal’s character who thought it was better to look good than to feel good) Do we care so much about appearance that we don’t care about substance or performance? Is this, or is this not, the 21st century?
Have your employer told you “no visible ink”? I’ve never worked in a place where that was the rule, thank goodness, although my tattoos are easily covered when necessary. But it seems like more and more workplaces are getting more and more strict. Or am I imagining things?
If you’d like to read more about celebrity tattoos, do take a look at The Vanishing Tattoo web site, which is a gold mine of information and inspiration.