Tattoos and body modifications have been around for many generations. They first began in 3370 BC and were used by Europeans and Egyptians. Both tattoos and body modifications are defined as a cultural representation of self-expression and sometimes even religion. In the article “Tattoos and Piercing: Issues of Body Modification and the Workplace,” Dr. Elzweig states, “Although tattooing is not a new phenomenon, the number of people who have tattoos has increased significantly and continues to rise. Life magazine estimated in 1936 that only 10% of me American population was tattooed in whole or in part (One out of ten Americans is tattooed, 1936)” (Elweig, Peeples).
It is clear that tattoos and body modifications have changed society and have become mainstream. In his article “Tattoos in the Workplace: What’s an Employer to Do?” Barrie Gross states, “Today, tattoos have gained wider social acceptance and more and more people, men and women alike, have them” (Gross). Even though this is true, the prejudice attitudes towards those with tattoos and modifications are still existent. For example, there is a major problem with discrimination in the workplace against individuals who have tattoos and/or modifications. Some people believe tattoos and piercings in the workplace is an issue because these modifications are seen as unprofessional, inappropriate, and also distracting. However, I believe these reasons are senseless and outdated.
The excuses given for not allowing tattoos and body modifications into the workplace are unreasonable. Society as a whole is always changing, which is why many policies are out of date and overrated. Even though tattoos and piercings are a personal choice, this does not make it ethical to discriminate against individuals who are pro-tattoos and pro-modifications. There is no allowance of intolerance against those of different races, genders, and even religions in the workplace; therefore, there should not be a prejudice towards tattooed and/or modified individuals, especially in work industries. There is a certain stereotype that is given for people with tattoos and body modifications. In the article, “Body Art in the Workplace: Piercing the Prejudice?” Brian Miller states, “We suggest that body art such as tattoos and body piercing can lead to stereotyping, stigmatization, and prejudice in the workplace. This study examines the impact of personality, amount of face-to-face contact with customers, and having to share rewards on the acceptability of a work partner with a facial tattoo and facial piercings.” (Miller, Nicols, Eure). When a non-modified individual sees another person who appears to have tattoos or piercings, more than likely their first impression might be that this person is rebellious, dirty, a drunk or drug addict, and of course unprofessional. While this may be true for some individuals, many tattooed and modified people are the exact opposite and just want to express themselves through body art.
I do not believe all tattoos and piercings are unprofessional. Although professionalism is vital, the treatment employees are given along with the success of completing the required tasks is far more important. Tattoos and piercings are not the factors that get the job done; it is the people wearing them who do.
Another reason people state that tattoos and piercings should not be displayed in the workplace is because all tattoos and piercings are inappropriate. This is completely invalid. I classify inappropriate as being vulgar or containing profanity or nudity. Of course, there are tattoos that contain these elements, to which I would say should not be displayed in the workplace. But any tattoos that do not demonstrate this should not have to be covered. An individual cannot make the excuse that a tattoo or piercing is inappropriate, just because he or she disagrees with the modified person’s decisions. I believe that tattooed and pierced individuals are discriminated against for the reason that they do not meet other people’s standards.
Many people against tattoos and piercings claim that these modifications are offensive. I feel as if everything in today’s world can be taking offensively. As stated before, tattoos and piercings do not have to be allowed if they are vulgar, obscene, or inappropriate. This does not mean every tattoo appears this way. Actually, it is very uncommon to find these types of tattoos and piercings. According to Stapaw.com, “Politics and religion are among the most “offensive” topics, yet the right to freedom of expression, thought, political affiliation, and religious practices should be protected” (Stawpaw). I believe this is extremely hypocritical of the work industries to protect rights like religion and political views, and be completely against tattoos and body modifications; this goes completely against the first amendment for freedom of speech and religion.
Tattoos and body modifications are also perceived as unattractive or unappealing. Anyone who claims this as a reason to not have tattoos or piercings in the workplace, I say is completely biased. First of all it is not their body, they have no right to say how another person should look. Secondly, no two individuals are the same, so why do some individuals expect others to act or dress the same? If two people were to switch bodies, they more than likely would both feel uncomfortable, because it would be a completely different feeling and appearance. When going in for an interview and filling out a resume, one does not list their height, weight, or hair color, so why should it matter if the interviewee has modifications or not? The answer is it shouldn’t. Our generations are raised to learn “never judge a book by its cover,” yet individuals in a society do it all of the time. If our society cannot accept a person for who they are, how will it accept other things in the future that pertain to an individual’s rights?
One other, but certainly not the last, reason individuals claim tattoos and piercings should not be displayed in the workplace is they do not represent the image companies want. People with tattoos and piercings are classified as uneducated, less qualified, lazy, irresponsible, and even defined as delinquents. This is simply prejudice and biased. There are so many employees today, including doctors, lawyers, teachers, and even businessmen, who have tattoos and/or piercings, and are qualified to successfully complete the tasks they are given on a daily basis. Whether these people had tattoos or not, each individual would have the same educations and same work ethic. If someone who had tattoos and/or piercings was serving a customer, and this customer knew the employee had tattoos, the service would be no different if the customer did not know. This clearly shows that having tattoos and modifications in the workplace is not a negative thing. However, in Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s article they state that Dr. Elzweig advises, “Employees need to use discretion in the workplace. In addition, employers need to recognize that the paradigm is shifting and that body modifications are becoming more mainstream” (Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi).
What people need to understand is, tattoos and body modifications are part of society that is changing constantly. If individuals neglect to adjust to the circumstances, then the society is going to eventually fall apart. Aside from tattoos and piercings, how would our society act upon other abnormalities, such as disabilities or age? If someone with a disability were able to complete the tasks required for a specific job, would employers not hire this person because he or she does not want a disabled person seen in their business, because it looks “bad” for the company? If a younger adult who was qualified for the job came in for the same job as an elder, would the elder be chosen first, just because he has lived longer, and supposedly has had more “experience”? If the answer to these two questions is yes, then the society is looking at life in the wrong way. These examples are similar to the tattoos and modifications situation. Society as a whole has to realize, if the person is able to do what he or she is told, then there should be no conflict, no matter what complications the employers have with the individual’s appearance.
Seeing how not accepting tattoos and piercings in the workplace can cause greater problems, employers need to start accommodating for individuals of all different backgrounds. Businesses need to start focusing on the important matters such as, education, work ethic, attitude, and the willingness to do their job successfully. Anything else is just an unreasonable excuse to prevent people from having self-individualism.
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