Think before you ink

By Tessa Banks

Piercings and tattoos have long been taboo in the professional world, making it difficult for people with slightly outlandish piercings or visible tattoos to get a job in a traditional office setting. The professional landscape seems to be changing, however. More and more young people are getting things like facial piercings and visible tattoos without worry of not being able to find a job. Our society is becoming more open-minded in general, but with piercings and tattoos, like with everything else, the progress is coming along slowly but surely.
While many companies have no formal policy on visible tattoos or facial piercings, experts like Forbes say that, while there may be no policy against body art or piercings, it will probably be a hindrance help in job interviews for corporate jobs. In creative jobs, however, having a nose piercing or interesting body art will most likely be less of a big deal according to Forbes. The local law firms that I called for this story declined to comment but said that they had no policies on tattoos and piercings in hiring and did not want to be named in this article.
According to the Pew Research Center, 36% of 18-to-25-year-olds have tattoos, and almost half (40%) of 26-to-40-year-olds have been inked. In addition, 30% of 18-to-25-year-olds have at least one body piercing. The culture around body piercings and tattoos is changing in the school environment as well. With the increasing prevalence of facial piercings in our society, it’s no wonder that companies are beginning to rethink their policies and predispositions on hiring someone with a nose piercing and a forearm tattoo.
“Teachers do sometimes ask me questions about why and when you got it,” said junior Ashleigh Leary, “But they never treat me differently because of [my nose piercing]. They’re usually more curious about it than anything else.”
Leary got her nose piercing when she was a freshman; she says she wasn’t really thinking about how it would affect her job search in the future, since it seemed so far away at the time.

Photo / Julia Wright
Photo / Julia Wright

“Nose piercings aren’t as dramatic as some other facial piercings or tattoos because you can easily take it out if you need to for a job,” said Leary. “I think it’s becoming more normal. I could probably get a job with it in, but I most likely wouldn’t be able to get an office job because of it.”
Seaholm Spanish teacher Catherine Meleca has personal experience with having tattoos in a professional setting and how the culture around them has changed over the years. She got her first tattoo on her back near her shoulder about 10 years ago, and got another one on her wrist a year and a half ago.
“I do think times are changing to some extent,” Meleca said. “I get that sense just from my own experience that when I chose to get my second tattoo I was less concerned and less worried than I was when I got my first one, and that was a span of ten years. I still think, whether it’s right or wrong, that people still judge based on first impressions. I do think that someone who is interviewing for a job that has a lot of piercings or visible tattoos that it could be held against them unwittingly. I do see it changing, but I think it depends on the context of your workplace as well.”
While Meleca does think that there is a fine line between personal expression and expectation in the workplace, if someone were to decide to get a tattoo, she recommends that they carefully look at both the pros and cons, especially with something that will permanently alter your physical appearance.
“If you’re going to get a tattoo, I think you really should mull it over because I think that people can’t help but judge others based on it,” Meleca said. “So be judicious about where you put it and you need to be well aware that there could be consequences to that choice farther down the line.”

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