Sunday, 2 November 2014

Tattoos

Imagine that everywhere I went I carried a picture of a circle with me. I didn't force you to look at the circle, I didn't make you talk about the circle, but if you asked I would answer any questions about it politely and informatively. I didn't force you to carry a picture of a circle around with you, nor did I judge the fact that you chose not to carry one - even though I'm not the only person in the world to do so by a long stretch. Imagine that, although the circle made absolutely no impact on how well I could carry out my job; employers could make the decision not to hire me on that, and that alone. Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? That's exactly the problem that I look to face in the future (or at least, if you listen to my parents) because of this one tiny tattoo.

Circle Tattoo

The truth is, I don't get it. I'm not heavily tattooed by any means, I have this one and another set of lyrics along my foot, both of which are hidden 99.9% of the time. Unfortunately, a huge amount of high powered jobs will require me to have my hair tied back, or I would choose to tie it back as I often do, to prevent annoyance when I'm concentrating (in the style of Violet Baudelaire. 100 points to you, if you get that reference) and that makes this an issue. Although of course when I got this done I recognized that there would be some uproar, I mostly imagined that it would come from my parents ("You'll hate that when you're 80." Thanks, Mum, but if I still remember who I am at eighty I'm counting it as a bonus.) In a world where up to 29% of men and women in the UK have a tattoo, it is completely and utterly bizarre that they can still determine your future outcome. That's right - over a quarter of UK residents have at least one tattoo, and you can still be turned away from some jobs because of it - and there are still people out there who believe that's the correct course of action.

I assumed that this was a generation gap thing, my parents grew up in a decade where tattoos weren't as accessible, acceptable or common as they are in the one I grew up in, so taking to twitter I asked for some opinions from my own generation;

Now don't get me wrong, some of the replies were exactly how I'd expected them to go - that the way people look has absolutely no impact on people's capabilities to do a job, and that their bodies are theirs to do what they want. Having said that, a few were confusing to me; mostly those that suggested visible tattoos didn't fit in with a suit/skirt dress code, or that they looked unprofessional.

Woah, hold up. Did I miss something here? Is there an unwritten clause in the suit/skirt dress code that says "smart office wear and absolutely no self expression, no matter if that decision was made at the age of eighteen - as an adult - was carefully thought through, and bares no offence to any surrounding workers?" Is there a time in Medical School where a student can be told, "No, no, it's not that you're not our top student, it's just that that flower you have on your wrist is taking you down to a solid middle at best". Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that this is an opinion that is invalid - but to me that seems a little like suggesting that your professional ethic might be affected by the shirt that you chose to wear today, simply because it's not one that I'm used to seeing in a similar job role, or a colour or style that I myself might have picked.  Interestingly enough, some people seem to think that certain jobs are more "suited" to tattooed people than others, for instance if I chose to be a politician clearly my tattoo would make me an unprofessional candidate, but should I choose to be a journalist and use the same skills and knowledge to write about politics as opposed to practicing it, my tattoo would matter much, much less.

The fact is, when my hair covers this tattoo - I have the same skills. I can still read ridiculously fast, I can still touch type, I can still preach politics, share informed views on current events and justify my opinions on a whole variety of topics. Tying my hair back doesn't turn me into a babbling moron, it doesn't take away any skills that might contribute to my asset in certain work places - I am the same person, with the same skills, just now the tiny ring of ink I have tattooed behind my ear is visible. Here's an idea; if you don't think tattoos look professional - don't get one. If you think my tattoos make me look unprofessional? I'll only ever show my right side to you whilst in a professional environment. If you don't believe that you want your children to be taught by those with tattoos, or you don't want to be seen by a doctor with some? Maybe train up yourself. You might not be on the same level of skill, but at least your unmodified skin won't offend anyone.

What do you think of tattoos and the influence that they can have on getting a job?

Sammy xo.

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