Tattoos and Negative Stigma

Tattoos often have a negative stigma in society, particularly from the older generations. From this demographic, tattoos are sometimes viewed as trashy, or as a reason not to take someone seriously. Even as a reason not to give someone a job they are qualified for. So, on my twentieth birthday, when I made the decision to get three tattoos, my family was not happy. It was hard for them, and some of my other loved ones, to understand my perception of tattoos. They could not understand the way that I view them as art. It further upset them when I continued to get tattoos despite their opinions of them. On, Katie McGrath published an article titled, “When Does a Tattoo Become Art?” Within the article, the writer explains how tattooing is an art form to those within the community.

“To really determine whether tattoos are art engages the broader, time-old question, “what is art?” McGrath said. “But the easiest answer, as Panaite says, comes down to questions of intention and perception. If the creator or receiver of the tattoo sees it as art, then that’s what it is. Tattoos have gone through movements and trends, just as any other art form has. They are the product of the skilled application of materials, with consideration given to placement, aesthetics, and style.”

To me, tattoos are an amazing form of self-expression that help me to feel more comfortable in my own skin. When I think of an idea for a new piece, I am so excited to have the opportunity to get it done. To have the chance to carry around an artist’s work on my skin forever. Along with that, there is something so unique about working with an artist to achieve a mental image. To see their creative process. It was never about getting the attention of others, or trying to hide behind the ink, it was just about expressing myself through art in a way that was forever. Tattooing can be a beautiful concept to those that appreciate the artform. Within the article “Tattoos are a unique form of expression and a significant part of many identities,” by Liliana Mota, the writer goes into detail about the significant of self-identity in tattooing. 

“People get tattoos for many reasons, whether it’s to honor a loved one, express themselves in a different way or represent something meaningful, every tattoo has a reason and a purpose,” Mota said. “An old friend who joined the United States Marine Corps after high school got a tattoo as a daily reminder to never stop thriving. Thinking someone’s tattoo is without purpose or ugly is incredibly closed-minded. Though it might seem insignificant, the tattoo might mean the world to the person.”

Some people would argue that a tattoo is okay only when there is a sentimental meaning behind it. I would disagree with this. I think that anyone is entitled to do what they want, so long as it is not harmful or offensive. A few of my tattoos have a deep meaning to me while other were just ideas that hit me at various times in my life. I have never felt the need to justify my purpose behind getting them. It never made sense to me that certain job opportunities could be limited for me because of my tattoos. Personally, I have never experienced it being a major problem to employers, but I have heard stories from others facing it. In the article, “Tattoos Hurt your Chances of Getting a Job”, published on, the statistics behind tattoos and job availability. 

The biggest takeaways from our survey include a whopping 76% of respondents feel tattoos and piercings hurt an applicant’s chances of being hired during a job interview. And more than one-third – 39% of those surveyed – believe employees with tattoos and piercings reflect poorly on their employers. Furthermore, 42% feel visible tattoos are always inappropriate at work, with 55% reporting the same thing about body piercings.”

A huge part of me is confused by the possibility that my tattoos could be the reason why I am not selected for a job. To me, there is not a connection between my tattoos and my credibility for a job. It is not a testament to my professionalism or a defining factor of my life. Along with this, I find it extremely strange that another person would be so invested in my tattoos that they would not choose me for a position.

Fortunately, I do think that it is dependent on the industry you enter whether employers are concerned about tattoos. Some employers also only request that you keep them covered while at the workplace, which for most people is not too difficult of a task. Although I think it’s a bit silly, I’m willing to do it if it means being able to work a job that I enjoy.