We are all in college to obtain a professional career and make something of ourselves. Some of us haven’t been able to resist the urge to get tattoos that are hard to cover up. For example, some students have tattoo sleeves, covering up a majority, if not all, of the arm. There used to be a taboo of tattoos and piercings in a professional workplace. It might be dying down and becoming more acceptable as some businesses have been looking at how much experience people bring to the table. I find that this is what is most important.
A person should be viewed by their professional skill and experience and not by what they look like or what they have on their skin, unless the tattoos are offensive or vulgar.
According to Pew Research Center, “73 percent of people get their first tattoo between 18 and 22 years of age, and an estimated 40 percent of millennials have a tattoo.”
I decided to contact a few of my friends that have graduated and who have been working in their field of study to find out if tattoos are as strict as they used to be.
I have a friend who works as a residential care specialist, a job where she provides individualized care for survivors of domestic violence.
“Our procedure and policies include not to show visible tattoos and not to wear dreads,” she said. But she continued to tell me that they hired a woman with these characteristics because she fit the experience they were looking for.
“So maybe that indicates that experience trumps appearances and that putting expectations into practice is harder to do.”
I reached out to another friend that works as a production assistant for Lancaster Safety Consulting, which is a safety consulting company that helps companies stay at OSHA’s highest level of safety.
This is from their manual: “Tattoos, body art, and certain piercings that would not be appropriate in a professional work environment, should be covered (or removed).” I asked her if the company stuck to this policy and she told me, “None of my coworkers have tattoos that wouldn’t be work appropriate so I’d say they stick to it. Their thoughts on it is what should be common sense. Like if you have a naked girl on your arm, then cover it.”
I also figured I’d ask one of my friends, a licensed practical nurse, to see if their policies are strict on tattoos, as they see many people every day.
My friend told me that tattoos are, “still kind of taboo to the management. Not so much on the floors.”
She talked about an orientation where she was “specifically told to cover any visible tattoos.”
What about the military? An update to the Army Regulation 670-1 was established in 2015. This new policy allows the recruit to have no limits regarding the size or number of tattoos on their arms and legs. Any face, neck, or hand tattoos are still against policy. In Army Times, Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno stated, “Society is changing its view of tattoos, and we have to change along with that.”
With the Marines, a new policy will allow more flexibility with tattoos, but will still prohibit sleeve tattoos. Commandment General Robert Neller told the Marine Times, “We’re Marines. We have a brand. People expect a certain thing from us and right now, if you’re in PT uniform, you can be completely tatted up under your PT uniform.”
The Navy Times states that the Navy, the branch with the most recently updated policy on tattoos, is easing its restrictions to recruit more sailors from the millennial generation, “of whom more than 1 in 3 sport body art.”
This policy is the least strict in the military allowing all tattoos, including tattoos on the neck, behind the ear, and sleeve tattoos, but still none are allowed on their heads.
In the next few months, the Air Force will also be updating its policy on tattoos. Information of what will be changed is still currently up for discussion.
All sections of the military still restrict any tattoos related to hate groups, gangs, or of an offensive nature.
If you are looking at getting tattoos, just double check on what your profession’s views on it are. Although, at this point, most professions will probably just demand them to be covered up while on the job.
Although not all workplaces are the same and may differ, I think it can be seen that the practice of forbidding tattoos is now changing within our culture. Professions are seeing beyond the ink on people’s skin and looking at what is important – their behavior and professionalism.
Andy Vest is a Senior Staff Writer for The Spectator.