Is it unprofessional to display tattoos at work?

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    Oct 22, 2009 2:08 PM GMT
    I feel that body art is a personal choice. My opinion is that artwork should be displayed in the workplace providing that they do not cause offence, harm or offend others. Although Tatoos are very popular today, there is still a stigma with many of the older generations.

    Would-be prime ministers' wives have them. Lawyers have them. Doctors have them. So how did tattoos become so acceptable?

    Sailors. Prisoners. Bikers. Tattoos in the Western world were once the mark of the outcast, of the rocker and the rebel - of a certain kind of macho culture.

    And yet now when the latest celebrity tattoo is revealed the gist of the discussion is usually an evaluation of the merits of the design, of the choice of Latin script rather than the fact a public figure is displaying a prominent tattoo.

    David Cameron's (Leader of the UK opposition) wife Samantha has attracted a soupcon of aggressive press coverage, over her plugging of her stationery firm's products rather than her discreet tattoo of a dolphin on her ankle.

    But how did tattoos become all right for "normal" people and, most of all, for women?

    As a tattooed "professional" myself, I am aware of the fact that tattoos are becoming more socially acceptable on one level but I am still advised to keep them covered whilst at work. I am in the process of having some large body art done because I want to make a statement about my lifestyle choices.. At what point will it become non-offensive to have your art on display? When every person over the age of 16 has at least one tattoo?

    If tattoos really are becoming the "norm" then it's about time we were allowed to truly show them off.
  • Melos

    Posts: 264

    Oct 22, 2009 3:14 PM GMT
    I completely agree with ya, and like you said there are some professions where it is completely against all unwritten laws to show off your sleeves.

    One good example of this is my eldest brother. He recently joined on to the largest law firm in Vegas and has over 17 tattoos. He was smart for the most part on location (especially the one of the "Hot Wheels" logo with "White Trash" written instead), but he did get a tattoo on his forearm and now regrets it. Living in Vegas, it would be nice to have the option to wear short sleeve dress shirts every once and a while. However, the old fart head honchos would deem it unprofessional to see the art he has decided to place on his body and it may lead to some sort of repercussion.

    For now I would definitely recommend covering the ones you have if you want to work a white collar job, but maybe in the upcoming years as the younger more lad back generations age we will see a shift in the outlook of tattoos.
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    Oct 22, 2009 3:57 PM GMT
    It all depends on the work environment. When you're on the clock, you're on someone elses time and should follow dress guidelines.

    I work in a kitchen, so this isn't really an issue. The only things we aren't allowed are facial piercings. I've had all manners of crazy colored hair, and a former coworker had full sleeves and even a couple tats on his neck. I've got a few coworkers with quite a few ear piercings, one's gauged out to 1 or 0.
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    Oct 22, 2009 4:05 PM GMT
    Well it completely depends on where you work. At work place you not only represent you but an entire company, esp if you face clients. You will be facing all kind of people, who appreciate tattoos and who don't. I work in a bank and thus I know it wouldn't be nice of me to show them off (though I don't have any). But we have people who do, but prefer not to show them off at work. Its like dress code, no matter how you dress personally, at work you have to follow a certain code of conduct.
  • Latenight30

    Posts: 1525

    Oct 22, 2009 4:12 PM GMT
    Like anything that might sway someone to look at you or treat you different, Tats or piercings, being Gay, a leather master or whatever shouldn't really really have any bearing on how well you do a job.
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    Oct 22, 2009 4:15 PM GMT
    I'm lucky enough to be self-employed, so I don't have to worry.
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    Oct 22, 2009 4:31 PM GMT
    I like tats. But whether they should be covered up at work or not depends on the work environment. In a professional enviroment where professional dress code is the norm, tats need to stay covered up. In a more casual environment environment where casual dress code in the norm, its ok to display tats. Keep in mind that not everyone wants to see your tats or thinks tats are "socially acceptable." When you are at work, you must respect the viewpoint of your employer. When in doubt, go the conservative route.
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    Oct 22, 2009 4:43 PM GMT
    it totally depends on the work environment.
    I work as a mid manager in healthcare at one of the top 5 hospitals in the nation and have a half sleeve and a tongue piercing and a septum piercing that I infrequently wear jewelry in. When I'm at work I almost always have my tat covered. I occasionally wear short sleeves where my tat peaks out of, only when I don't have meetings.

    Rarely does anyone see my tongue piercing, I never wear my septum (nose) piercing at the office.

    Everyone in my office knows I have the tats and piercings and it hasn't caused any disturbance in the more than 8 years I've worked here, then again I don't flaunt them. I'm also really good at what I do, I keep people on track and focused on the tasks at hand. When they are jumping through hoops of fire they can't be distracted by a peeking tat or flash of silver in my mouth.

    I'm also a personal trainer, dancer and model, sometimes it's uncovered sometimes it isn't. Some jobs I get specifically because I have the tat or piercings.

    I think part of the new social acceptability of body art is making thoughtful realizations about your lifestyle and getting body art that can allow you self expression but can also be worked into your lifestyle.
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    Oct 22, 2009 4:50 PM GMT
    Lots of studies have been done on the thought process of cutters, as well as various tribal ritual in less evolved society. It's interesting to look at.
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    Oct 22, 2009 5:14 PM GMT
    As a career professional, I would say that anything that distracts from who you are and what you can do can be a problem. In some environments, tattoos aren't a distraction, in others, they are. Same goes for earrings, noserings, loud clothing, etc.

    Choose wisely.
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    Oct 22, 2009 5:24 PM GMT
    Is it unprofessional to display tattoos at work?

    That depends on your work. Visible tattoos are for thugs and trailer trash. If you're a bouncer in a red-neck bar, tattoos may be helpful.

    In a corporate board room... well, you wouldn't be there in the first place, would you?
  • Timbales

    Posts: 13993

    Oct 22, 2009 5:26 PM GMT
    matt45710 saidAs a career professional, I would say that anything that distracts from who you are and what you can do can be a problem. In some environments, tattoos aren't a distraction, in others, they are. Same goes for earrings, noserings, loud clothing, etc.

    Choose wisely.


    I agree.
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    Oct 22, 2009 5:45 PM GMT
    Red_Vespa saidIs it unprofessional to display tattoos at work?

    That depends on your work. Visible tattoos are for thugs and trailer trash. If you're a bouncer in a red-neck bar, tattoos may be helpful.

    In a corporate board room... well, you wouldn't be there in the first place, would you?


    That's a gross sweeping generalization... I have them and am in the board room weekly.

    Thug? Maybe... on a good day.
    Trailer trash? A stretch... I live in a condo in the trendiest neighborhood in San Francisco
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    Oct 22, 2009 5:53 PM GMT
    Yes, it is. It's a major distraction and tends to reflect poorly on the man's character. I have had to fill two positions over the past 5 years, with one of those being pursued by a candidate with visible neck and hand tattoos. Luckily, there was a more qualified candidate, but the ink did leave a bad impression.
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    Oct 22, 2009 5:54 PM GMT
    Tapper saidYes, it is. It's a major distraction and tends to reflect poorly on the man's character. I have had to fill two positions over the past 5 years, with one of those being pursued by a candidate with visible neck and hand tattoos. Luckily, there was a more qualified candidate, but the ink did leave a bad impression.


    I completely agree about visible tattoos, anything that can't be covered up with appropriate business wear, is like shooting yourself in the foot.
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    Oct 22, 2009 6:07 PM GMT
    When the opposition leader's wife sports a tattoo of a dolphin, that ain't the sign of the times-a-changin'...that should be a call to arms.

    When Mickey Mouse gets his first Minnie tattoo, tattoos are no longer cool. Rappers successfully wrestled rap back to its rightful owners after Vanilla Ice threatened a Pat Boone on the joint, and I suggest tattoo wearers pillory this woman so that art remains the mark of the outsider.
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    Oct 22, 2009 6:11 PM GMT
    I work in an office doing research. I attend meetings. I interact with participants. I also have visible tattoos and am planning out the next one on my forearm. I've been repeatedly given awesome scores on my reviews. The last raise I got was twice as high as the average for the university. My boss loves me so much she's been nothing but completely flexible with my hours so I can go to grad school while working full time.

    I'm modifying my body to make it look like the way I want it to. Just because my vision for myself is different from yours doesn't make me less valuable to your organization. Would you not hire someone for getting a nose job?

    In then end, I know my boss would have missed out by not hiring me. I'm fiercely loyal and consistently good at my job.


    And Red Vespa, I am neither a thug or trailer trash. Why you had to get insulting on such an innocuous thread is beyond me.
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    Oct 22, 2009 6:13 PM GMT
    I have tattoos but my job doesnt necessarily ban then but the nature of of my job makes the tattoo distracting for my consumers. So no one has ever banned the use of tattoos where in my career but the nature of my career ( interpreting ) makes the anything physically distracting must be kept to a minimum. this includes not just tattoos but loud clothing that includes colors, patterns, distracting jewerly, makeup, etc. We are supposed to be unobtrusive in my profession therefore tattoos are usually hidden for that purpose but not banned.

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    Oct 22, 2009 6:15 PM GMT
    Red_Vespa saidIs it unprofessional to display tattoos at work?

    That depends on your work. Visible tattoos are for thugs and trailer trash. If you're a bouncer in a red-neck bar, tattoos may be helpful.

    In a corporate board room... well, you wouldn't be there in the first place, would you?


    I'm really surprised to see something so ignorant from Red_Vespa.... But it does show moreso, from the opposition's point of view, why we cover them. Many people do have this idea still imprinted in their head. Many people who sign the paychecks.


    In an office setting, I don't see how they an be distracting at all. Sit at your computer and do your work!

    When you go into customer service, or any sort of corporate setting in which you would interact with clients, higher-ups, or co-workers from surrounding offices - it may send the wrong message about the company. I do understand covering them in this situation.
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    Oct 22, 2009 6:40 PM GMT
    nottingham_fella saidI feel that body art is a personal choice. My opinion is that artwork should be displayed in the workplace providing that they do not cause offence, harm or offend others. Although Tatoos are very popular today, there is still a stigma with many of the older generations.

    Would-be prime ministers' wives have them. Lawyers have them. Doctors have them. So how did tattoos become so acceptable?

    Sailors. Prisoners. Bikers. Tattoos in the Western world were once the mark of the outcast, of the rocker and the rebel - of a certain kind of macho culture.

    And yet now when the latest celebrity tattoo is revealed the gist of the discussion is usually an evaluation of the merits of the design, of the choice of Latin script rather than the fact a public figure is displaying a prominent tattoo.

    David Cameron's (Leader of the UK opposition) wife Samantha has attracted a soupcon of aggressive press coverage, over her plugging of her stationery firm's products rather than her discreet tattoo of a dolphin on her ankle.

    But how did tattoos become all right for "normal" people and, most of all, for women?

    As a tattooed "professional" myself, I am aware of the fact that tattoos are becoming more socially acceptable on one level but I am still advised to keep them covered whilst at work. I am in the process of having some large body art done because I want to make a statement about my lifestyle choices.. At what point will it become non-offensive to have your art on display? When every person over the age of 16 has at least one tattoo?

    If tattoos really are becoming the "norm" then it's about time we were allowed to truly show them off.


    It depends upon what job you are doing. When you are in the public eye a lot, many companies have a policy of no visible tattoos. For example a UPS driver must always be in company uniform when delivering and he is not allowed to have any visible tattoos or facial hair. However, a UPS package handler who is only working at the center unloading trailers or loading the package cars and is not in the eye of the public, may have any facial hair and visible tattoos he wants, as long as they are not offensive.

    Tattoos are becoming very acceptable by society because people are seeing that having a tattoo does not make you rebellious or evil. The same is true with men wearing ear rings. Only women and gays would wear earings before, but now boys and men who are not gay at all are getting their ears pierced. Pierced ears and tattoos are much more acceptable today. But I don't think society has accepted piercings in other parts of the body so much like nipples, tongue etc. In fact in many jobs they will not allow eyebrows and tongue pierced etc--only ears. .
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    Oct 22, 2009 6:41 PM GMT
    I'm sorry, I just don't buy the whole body art thing. To have a small and meaningful tattoo somewhere on your body is ok, as long as it's not visible. You can't expect your partners and boss to treat you like an adult if you are trying to look like a teenager... I know this is gonna sound wrong to most of you, but it's just my opinion.
    I don't appreciate piercings or tattoos at work and I don't think people should screw with their bodies like this...
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    Oct 22, 2009 6:45 PM GMT
    Here's my take (or concern, I should say). I have an older friend who got some tats back when he was 20-something. He grew to be very, very sorry about his tats - because he got sick and tired of them. Whatever message he wanted to project in his twenties, was NOT what he wanted to convey in his fifties. For me - I can't think of anything I want to display that I might not get SICK of someday.
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    Oct 22, 2009 6:49 PM GMT
    fulldelight saidI'm sorry, I just don't buy the whole body art thing. To have a small and meaningful tattoo somewhere on your body is ok, as long as it's not visible. You can't expect your partners and boss to treat you like an adult if you are trying to look like a teenager... I know this is gonna sound wrong to most of you, but it's just my opinion.
    I don't appreciate piercings or tattoos at work and I don't think people should screw with their bodies like this...


    Having a partner that is tattooed is one thing, your preference, your choice.

    But at work if you don't see the body art then you seriously can't judge it. You will see what someone who is discreet wants you to see.

    FYI Junior, people treat me like an adult because I act like one, not because of ink on my arm or piercings they never see.
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    Oct 22, 2009 6:50 PM GMT
    If we were to do a survey today of who has at least 1 tattoo, we would probbaly find today that over 50% do have at least 1 tattoo. And now, if you ask those who have none, but are considering getting one, the percentage would be even higher. That percentage keeps growing every year so that in about another 20 years, you will be considered odd, if you don't have one.
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    Oct 22, 2009 6:51 PM GMT
    Jockbod48 saidHere's my take (or concern, I should say). I have an older friend who got some tats back when he was 20-something. He grew to be very, very sorry about his tats - because he got sick and tired of them. Whatever message he wanted to project in his twenties, was NOT what he wanted to convey in his fifties. For me - I can't think of anything I want to display that I might not get SICK of someday.


    Maybe his regret is more a reflection of a poor choice of artwork.
    My grandpa has a tattoo he got in the Korean war with his life long friend... he's 80 and has no regrets.