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desiree333's avatar

Are tattoos/body modification becoming more acceptable and tolerated in professional settings?

Asked by desiree333 (3195 points ) January 24th, 2013

I’m studying to be a clinical psychologist, so I have limited my tattoos to areas that are easily hidden. However, I really despise and oppose discrimination against body modification. As long as my tattoos are not obscene, why should it matter if I have them? I would like to get some ink on my “ditch” a.k.a the inside of my elbow, but am wary because of the profession I’ll be in eventually. I’m not worried about my piercings, I can take them out whenever it is appropriate. Please tell me I won’t actually be turned down for some art on my body? All I can ever find on Google is hearsay from people who seem to be about 13 years old. Does anyone have some concrete advice to ease my conservatism with tattoos?

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34 Answers

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

I reported to a VP, and knew several persons at my level who had tattoos. No big deal to have them, it was always considered good judgment to have them in places that were concealable if a client were to be present. It is not that the firm cares, they just get nervous about putting you in front of a stuffy client if you can’t easily conceal it.

anartist's avatar

Probably depends on the job setting. Web design firms, internet start-ups, television, the entertainment fields probably more so than banks, law firms or real estate offices. Just as the racial and gender make-up of organizations seems to reflect the period in which the industry started and developed. More modern businesses from television to internet seem to have more diversity and more younger people.

And, @desiree333, just as you can remove piercing jewelery, you can wear long-sleeved clothing if you feel it necessary to conceal them.

On another note about going into a therapy field, ethically, if a practitioner cannot relate to a patient [such as someone who could not deal with aspects of your appearance] it is common that they will recommend them to someone else and choose to work with persons with which they can build a therapeutic rapport.

When I was hospitalized recently for COPD, I did notice several nurses and technicians with tattoos and piercings. I would not have been surprised to see same on a young doctor.

bookish1's avatar

Discrimination of this sort sucks and is pointless, but it’s still a reality we have to deal with. There’s no laws protecting against body art discrimination, so I think you would do best to assume it will be considered unprofessional until you get that job.

I’m on the academic track, and I am already prepared to cover up my tattoos (forearm and bicep) whenever necessary. I have the suspicion that visible tattoos for women are slightly more commonly acceptable than for men, but this might just be from my very strange vantage point within the humanities.

desiree333's avatar

@anartist Yes, long-sleeved clothing is an option. I would actually be surprised if a patient chose to end sessions with me because of tattoos. That would be unfortunate. Either way, I will never be heavily modified on my arms/chest/neck. The majority of my tattoos will be on my legs/feet anyways.

@bookish1 Wow! I did not know that there’s no law protecting people from that… How ridiculous. I would definitely cover-up during an interview and the first few months. I guess if I decided to expose them after awhile my employer wouldn’t really do anything about it?

zenvelo's avatar

Yes, up to a point. In a lot of older line businesses, customer-facing positions don’t do well with visible tats or more than a modicum of ear piercings.

It’s your choice to make permanent changes to your body, but expecting everyone else in the world to accept your decision is pretty dogmatic. Brandings okay? extreme body mods? genital bisection? One could argue well that such mods are not healthy and are done by people with way too many self loathing issues. And if I were a business owner, I should be able to not allow such statements be publicly nade by an employee representing my company.

rojo's avatar

I believe they are much more acceptable today than they were 20 years ago but most people, at least in the professional world, prefer them to be concealable in a business setting.
Chances are that if you have a Maori Facial Tattoo and are not living in New Zealand, you will face some descrimination when you apply for a professional position.

Sorry,

desiree333's avatar

@zenvelo Ouch. Basing your discrimination on other people’s appearance does not sit well with me. What if someone you were interviewing had obvious breast augmentation? Would that be “healthy” enough to represent your company?

You don’t know a person just by looking at them. Their piercings and tattoos could have religious significance. Unless a body modification is obscene or offensive you shouldn’t be so quick to pass judgement.

People don’t realize how expensive and time-consuming it is to design and get tattoos. The people that you look at and decide are “self-loathing” or criminals are actually very intelligent human beings with thousands upon thousands of dollars invested on their body in the form of beautiful art.

nofurbelowsbatgirl's avatar

Chances are if you do decide to get tattoos in certain spots and are weary you can always purchase this great concealer demonstrated here by Kat Von D who I personally think is beautiful either way.

WestRiverrat's avatar

I think it really depends on the job. I normally don’t have a problem, but when my waitress had an infected tongue piercing and was leaking puss that she wiped with her bare hand, I left the restaurant mid order and never went back.

IMO It is a good idea to get them where they can be covered if necessary.

bookish1's avatar

@desiree333 : I think that instead of attacking you, @zenvelo was just being realistic. We all have to live in this world, which is full of people who are not-us.

I show my tattoos when I’m hanging out with friends, or when I’m going to class or teaching my own students, but I’d never go to an interview or important meeting without covering them up. I like to dress pretty fruity when I have a choice in the matter, but I dress more conservatively for initial meetings or interviews, because there’s still a lot of homophobia and femmephobia out there, and I don’t want people judging me before they get to know me. Just because you believe that people shouldn’t make hasty judgments about you does not mean that they will not.

rojo's avatar

@WestRiverrat Puss leakage is never a positive sign.

desiree333's avatar

@bookish1 I completely agree with you. Yes, people should be realistic and cover-up during interviews and professional settings. I just get a little riled up when people are discriminatory, especially in such a harsh tone.

I just wanted to comment on the “genital bisection” thing: That is clearly a personal choice and I see no reason why/how an employer would know about that… Unless some ethical boundaries are being crossed.

rojo's avatar

@desiree333, @bookish1 Just trying to think of the situation where this question comes up?? ” Reflecting upon your desire to become a teacher, have you, or are you, considering a genital bisection?”
I do not believe I have ever been asked that question at a job interview!.

Response moderated (Spam)
livelaughlove21's avatar

As a clinical psychologist, you’ll be working independently, yes? If so, it probably wouldn’t be a huge problem. I work as a bank teller, and visible tattoos are big no-no’s. Why? Doesn’t really matter, it’s just how it is. The real world kind of sucks like that.

Body modification is a choice. If you choose to dye your hair neon pink, you’re going to be judged and probably denied certain jobs because many people would not take you seriously in a professional setting. Sorry, but that’s just how it is. It’s just as easy to choose to not have tattoos (or have them in easily concealable locations) as it is to choose to have them. The repercussions of the latter are something you’ll have to accept.

On a side note, I had no idea what genital bisection was until I saw it here and googled it. I understand most tattoos and piercings, but that’s just…WHY?!

Yeahright's avatar

@desiree333 I think @zenvelo is being very realistic and he didn’t make the rules. As @livelaughlove21 says, the real world is what it is. Answers contrary to your opinion are not insults, they are just different views from yours and by asking the question one would think you’d presumably wanted to hear those as well so that you can have a more realistic picture of the whole issue.

@nofurbelowsbatgirl I like KVD better w/o tats. I just like a clean canvas.

@livelaughlove21 I too had to look it up. I still haven’t recovered from what I found.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Oh good God, who dreamed up genital bisection? That’s wrong on so many levels.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

No, tattoos, piercings, and other body modifications aren’t accepted in a traditional, conservative professional setting. I’m not arguing whether this is fair or unfair; I’m just stating the reality.

If you can keep your “body art” hidden, it’s nobody’s business except your own. But, if you go to a job interview with visible tattoos, or if you don’t remove the jewelry from facial piercings, smart money’s betting that you won’t get the job.

I’ve been on the other side of this fence; i.e. with professional firms interviewing job candidates. I once saw a young woman get rejected—mocked, actually, as soon as she’d left the office—for having worn an ankle bracelet. If she weren’t capable of dressing appropriately for her interview, she couldn’t be trusted to wear the right “uniform” for client meetings and on-site assignments.

Things may be very different in more relaxed fields, such as graphic arts, entertainment, and software design. But, if you hit the pavement with your MBA degree, hoping to land a more conventional business position, your visible body modifications will considerably hinder your efforts.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

I once worked in the customer service department of a high-visibility company (you probably saw the ads and infomercials on TV). Although this was about 5 years ago, and the published dress code required that tattoos be covered. I found it interesting, because we had no visual contact with customers or the public in general.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@PaulSadieMartin I’ll have to agree with you on this one, in my area it wouldn’t be acceptable in business settings.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

A few thoughts about tattoos (from an old fogey who detests tattoos):

(1) Fads come and go, but a tattoo is permanent. Long after tattoos have ceased being cool and popular, you’ll still have the same designs inked onto your body. If you want to express your independence and rebel against social norms, load your iPod with some loud, obsenity-riddled hip hop music. Someday, you’ll erase the music; the same can’t be said for a tattoo.

(2) You’re a changing, growing, ever-developing person—each of us is—but a tattoo is permanent. What seems clever and attractive today might seem very silly to you in a few years.

(3) Your body is also constantly changing. If you’d like to get a tattoo on your torso, how will that artwork look after several pregnancies and births (ladies) or when your tight abs turn into middle-age spread (gentlemen)?

(4) Tattoos seem to be addictive. After someone get’s his/her first tattoo, that person’s likely to go back for another tattoo. And another. And another. What started off as a small, subtle adornment grows into a mess of ink.

(5) The generations ahead of you (before tattoos were cool) and behind you (when tattoos are passe) will think that you’re trashy. It won’t matter if you’re not the least bit trashy; you’ll look the part. I’m a baby boomer, and I grew up seeing plenty of WWII veterans who’d been tattooed during the war. Almost all of them regretted what they’d done (the deeds of drunken sailors on shore leave); all of them looked low-bred and ignorant.

Yeah, I know that I won’t convince anyone who’s in the market for a tattoo. But, I’ve given it my best effort!

KNOWITALL's avatar

@PaulSadieMartin I have one little dot, I won’t say what it signifies, but some Americans may know, but it’s biker gang related from my angry teen period. What it signifies to me now breaks my heart every time I think about it, I was so misguided and angry. But it is a good reminder of how we’re always evolving for sure.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

@KNOWITALL Many Coptic Christians have three tiny dots tattooed on the inner (palm) side of their wrists. The three dots represent a cross. The tattoos are so small and subtle, they’re not really noticeable.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@PaulSadieMartin Not mine, mine is horrible and embarassing and I wish I’d been smarter in my young foolish rebellion. Now I must bear the cross of knowing what it means and that it’s permanent. It’s a great reminder though. sigh

Yeahright's avatar

@KNOWITALL You can have it removed if you feel that bad about it.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Yeahright Nah, I need the reminder that I’m not always right. :) Maybe it will keep me humble…lol

Earthgirl's avatar

The only thing I know is that I had a teacher in the fashion field, which is pretty tolerant of self expression, and she had tattoos on her back and arms. She expressed regret that she had had them done. Not because she felt that it had hurt her professionally, but just that it was no longer what she wanted to project, imagewise. I would say she was in her 40’s.

desiree333's avatar

@Yeahright You are right. I asked this question with the expectation of getting a variety of opinions. I’m sorry to @zenvelo for reacting in such a abrasive manner… I initially felt like there was a condescending tone in the comment, like he/she also judges people with body modifications personally as well as professionally. I suppose that I need to respect your right of opinion, even if I do not agree or appreciate how you speak of people with mods.

desiree333's avatar

@PaulSadieMartin Tattoos have existed for thousands of years. They have been discovered on mummies dating back to c. 2000 B.C. I would hardly call them a dying fad. They should be treated as a legitimate form of self-expression. Even if someone got a tattoo that no longer reflects who they are today; they will likely look back at it with fondness for their youth. I don’t think most people regret their tattoos.

As for stretching; if you take care of your tattoo it shouldn’t become skewed at all. Touch-ups are still an option just in case. Either way everyone looks saggy as sh*t when they’re old anyways. I’ll just look more cool.

I don’t know if you’ve taken the time to look at images of tattoos, but they can be absolutely beautiful. It’s literally art that you wear, and uses flesh as the medium. If some drunken idiot gets a ludicrous tattoo and regrets it; that’s their problem. People make mistakes with many things in life.

Anyways, It doesn’t matter to me if people don’t like them, to each his own. But I severely hope you don’t judge people for the way they choose to adorn their own bodies.

@KNOWITALL I suppose it can also remind you of how much you’ve grown as a person?

mattbrowne's avatar

In many industry sectors visible tattoos are not accepted.

rojo's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Ones good, twos better, threes best??

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@rojo Are you referring to bisections or tattoos?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@rojo Oh god, no one’s getting near Mr Happy with a knife once, not to say three times. You might want to seek counseling.

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