My Cart


Tattoos in the Workplace and the Shifting Perspective of Self-Expression

Posted on September 06 2012

Tattoos in the Workplace


Who isn’t dreaming of getting that perfect job? The one where they can walk in without fear of judgement, be happy because there is comfortable furniture in the office (something which is hugely important so if you don’t already do so then you need to change this and visit office monster or a similar company). For many young and aspiring people eager to enter into the working world, a common word of advice is often offered: don’t ever get a tattoo. The common assumption with tattoos is that they render a person almost entirely unemployable. Never mind if you are highly educated and a top performer in your field, if you’ve got a flower permanently inked onto your ankle, you’re destined for life with food stamps.

This quickly disintegrating misconception was birthed from the idea that the kind of person who would permanently mark their body was incapable of being professional, of following directions, and was unfit to represent an organization. Tattoos were for hippies from the 70’s; people who protested against capitalism and the established order. There was a sense of disconnect and a distrust between these two groups, and the tattoo was a clear indicator of which side you were on.

Today’s society functions much differently. Tattoos are not an indicator of rebellion or rejection, but of self-expression and individuality, which are now strongly encouraged. A tattoo no longer puts you into a category of miscreants, but instead demonstrates your love of Luigi from the Super Mario Brothers, or the Boston Red Sox. The kind of person sporting a tattoo has spread into every category, and every walk of life. It is no longer possible to make a value judgment on the character of a person based on the presence of a bit of body art.

With this general increase in the acceptability of tattoos in our society, their appropriateness in a work context now comes from the message they present. Like anything else you put on display on your body (ie clothes), the obscene and inappropriate is still unaccepted. Having a tattoo on your arm will not prevent you from getting your next job by virtue of it being a tattoo, but if it is obscene, graphic, or glorifying of violence or sex, then it will. Things need to be kept at a reasonable level.

It would be ridiculous to expect to be hired for a job if you walked into the interview with a shirt displaying something offensive. The same holds true for tattoos. If you have a face tattoo like Mike Tyson or barbed wire covering your arms, you will be shown the door. Keep things within reason. You no longer need to worry about the presence of a tattoo, even a clearly visible one, as long as the message it sends, or the image displayed is appropriate.

As we continue to move forward, and those who still refuse to let go of their distrust of tattoos move on from the working world, these markings will only continue to become more and more common. More companies are starting to accept tattoos, so it’s likely that they won’t be much of a problem in the future. As the fight for talented workers becomes harder, companies are having to focus on candidates with the best skill sets to benefit their companies. Tattoos are not going to get in the way of someone doing a good job, so many companies are starting to focus on acquiring people for their talents instead. They are also following advice from websites like to make sure their employees have the best experiences with the company. This makes them want to work hard for the company.



About the Author of “Tattoos in the Workplace and the Shifting Perspective of Self-Expression”:
Written by Clinton Garvin for the San Diego accident lawyers at AA Accident Attorneys.