Tatted up in the workplace – still taboo?


I got my first tattoo when I was 16, accompanied by my cool-as-can-be mom (who is currently way tatted-up and rocking a hair cut practically as short as my dad’s). In other words, as excited as I was, it was no big deal. At least not to my immediate family. But the closer I got to graduating, the more I heard from advisors that when interviewing for jobs, visible tattoos are a big no-no.


All throughout college, the same advice was repeated to me several times. My peers suggested I hide mine, and professors and textbooks reiterated the idea.

Then, last summer I revisited the inky needle, this time for a small tattoo well-hidden behind my ear. Following the instructions of my tattoo artist, I made sure to pin my hair back that week, allowing my new piece of body art to “breathe.” That week, at my summer internship, my heart skipped a beat when my supervisor casually pointed out that she “never noticed my tattoo before.”

My mind raced thinking, does she think I’m unprofessional now? Does she view me as some rebellious, grungy college student, like all the textbooks suggested?

Then – “It’s so cute, did it hurt?”

I was taken aback by her approval. My tattoo was regarded as, simply put, a part of my body (as it should be, in my opinion).

I realized then that perhaps, in this more liberal day and age, tattoos are not viewed in the same unruly light as it was a few years ago.

It has dawned on me that certain professions may be much more casual about physical self-expression in a professional atmosphere. Dyed hair, pierced nose and inked arm? Who cares, can you do your job?

On the other hand, as pointed out by USATodayEducate.com, doctors, lawyers and other jobs are likely to be held to a different, more conservative standard.

So I’m curious – do any of you have experiences with tattoo-censorship for your jobs? And on the other hand, as a customer or client, would it bother you if your doctor, professor or boss rocked a tattoo?


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