How do you express yourself? Music? Dance? Your clothing? Maybe body modifications? Many Americans express themselves through piercings and tattoos, and although some people still view them in a negative light, tattoos are gradually becoming accepted in the workplace.According to Harris Interactive, 20% of American adults are tattooed, and the number seems to be growing (Nooga.com). Many employers have begun altering company policies to fit the increasing number of tattooed applicants. Volkswagen is just one company that does not have a written tattoo policy. Scott Wilson, Volkswagen’s spokesman, says that the company handles customer complaints about tattoos on a case-by-base basis, but there have never been any issues. Bank of America has also excluded a written tattoo policy. The company’s spokeswoman, Ferris Morrison stated, “We have no formal policy about tattoos because we value our differences and recognize that diversity and inclusion are good for our business and make our company stronger” (Forbes).
Even though tattoos and piercings have become acceptable in many work environments, some companies do still prohibit visible tattoos. Every company has a different policy, but seem to have similar regulations that require tattoos to be covered with clothing or makeup. Some companies also ban tattoos on the hands and face. Hospitals and medical facilities often require employees to hide any visible body art. The United States military also enforces strict rules against tattoos. The Army is currently reviewing a new regulation that would prevent soldiers from having any tattoos below the knee or elbow (The Wall Street Journal). The policy would be a huge jump from current regulation, which only bans tattoos on the head and face. If the new rule is implemented, soldiers that have existing tattoos will be grandfathered in, which has caused dozens of the military’s tattoo enthusiasts to head to the local parlor to get new art. Baldy Carder of Baldy’s Tattoo & Piercing Parlor said his studio in Radcliff, Kentucky has seen an increase in business because “a lot of guys are coming in for the simple fact they want to get grandfathered in” (The Wall Street Journal).
For many people, tattoos do not have the same stigma they did 20 years ago, or even 10, for that matter. Before you get a tattoo, though, research your industry and potential employers to get a better idea of the policies related to your field. Tattoos are a serious decision, and employment is just one factor that you should consider before getting ink. Before I got my tattoos, I had to decide if I could accept wearing long sleeves and pants throughout my entire career. Luckily, the entertainment industry is generally accepting of body art, and I am not likely to have any issues. Even if I have to cover my tattoos due to my career, the art, to me, is worth it.