Freshman Findings: Tattoos at work still cause a buzz

Universities and workplaces have adjusted in some ways to fit a shifting society. For example, they now employ social media for advertising and communication, and even as a way to keep tabs on employees or students. However, the views of these establishments toward tattoos and body piercings have generally remained the same: They are simply considered unprofessional. In a society that is beginning to broaden conventions, this is an outdated mindset.
A hole in someone’s face or ink in their skin is not a reflection of their work ability. Tattoos and piercings have been attributed to an underground alternative culture of kids who don’t care about school, work or anything besides a good time. But the quality of people’s performance is not related to how they express themselves.
People get inked up for a variety of reasons. For some, it’s an art form, and their body is the canvas. For others, their tattoos run deep: names of deceased loved ones or inspirational quotes or symbols. Piercings also serve as a form of expression or a strong fashion statement.
However, there’s one fact that we can’t ignore: People with visible tattoos and piercings are not viewed professionally. It’s harder to land that job if the interviewer can see a nose ring. How do we combat this? Tattoos and piercings have to be concealable.
Dr. Frank L. Rusciano, director of Global Studies, agrees that tattoos and piercings should be covered up for jobs, and also offered an explanation.
“It’s a generational thing,” he said. “[Older] people generally did not get them.”
For those who did not see much of tattoos or piercings, it is hard to accept the new generation of those who now embrace them.
Mixed messages are constantly being sent to the youth. If we flip on the television or go online, we see our favorite celebrities showing off their latest ink or their shiny belly rings. I don’t blame them for this, as their bodies are theirs to control. However, it’s stressful for a generation whose focus is on media to tune it out and hear the voices of the mature and powerful.
Stereotypes are hard to shatter. I wish that people would be judged on traits such as character, work ethic, compassion and intelligence. However, we must face the fact that tattoos and piercings distort these qualities in the eyes of the workplace.
-Samantha Sawh
Freshman journalism major
Printed in the 10/2/13 edition.

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