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Tattoos in the Workplace: The New Normal?

Not So Different Anymore

In May 2022, Virgin Atlantic became the first UK airline (and one of few worldwide) to allow cabin crew to display their tattoos, marking a shift in workplace values and tolerance of tattooed employees.

For thousands of years, cultures around the world have celebrated the art of tattooing. But in recent history — specifically in the Western workplace — they’re considered taboo. Even though around 40% of the US workforce has a tattoo, many companies have policies that require employees to hide their ink, and only 12% of people report feeling comfortable enough to show them off.

But are tattoos becoming more accepted in professional environments? Or will some industries never get with the times?

“Usually all my tattoos came at good times. A tattoo is something permanent when you’ve made a self-discovery, or something you’ve come to a conclusion about.” — Angelina Jolie

Have attitudes towards tattoos really changed?

Tattoos are much more accepted than they were ten years ago. As societal rules and norms have become more relaxed, workplace values have (thankfully) followed. The increased tolerance of casual attire, piercings, and tattoos comes primarily from the recent influx of Millennials and Gen Z in the workplace.

 As workforce age demographics continue to shift, the younger generations’ “laid-back” attitudes toward body art and appearances will continue to filter into professional environments. 

Most Gen Z members are truly digital natives, hence the name ‘Zoomers’ (get it? Because they zoom the internet? Okay, I’m done, moving on). They were raised on technology and probably don’t remember a life without it. Zoomers share their entire lives online, but no matter how much it may annoy you, it does have some pros. The more tattoos and body art people see, the more it becomes normalized in our society. The more tattoos are normalized, the more they’re generally accepted. See? Everyone wins.

I Wouldn’t Hide My Tattoos For Anyone… Where Can I Work?

Whether you don’t want to hide your tattoos or you only want to work for someone who values your individuality and creative freedom, you have some options.

Employers are free to decide their tattoo policy, as there are no laws against tattoos in the workplace or tattoo-based workplace discrimination. Whether or not a company allows tattoos sometimes depends on the industry, but it varies from place to place.

If you have tattoos you can’t (or won’t) cover, here are your best bets:

Many people have culturally significant body art that is part of their core identity. And while it may be challenging to find a position with visible tattoos, their cultural or ethnic importance is not something you should have to compromise. Before applying to an open position, read employee reviews about the company to ensure they prioritize diversity and value the need to represent your culture openly.

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The Cover-Up

If you don’t mind covering up your ink for the workday — and don’t want to wait for the times to change — your employment options are pretty much unlimited. 

But as mentioned above, every company is different, and studying a company’s tattoo policy before going to an interview or starting a new job is always a safe bet. If you feel like your visible tattoos are hurting your chances of securing a job you’re passionate about, you always have the option of removal.

Contact Lamar Street Tattoo Club for a Recommendation

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