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article imageOp-Ed: Tattoo taboo — Body art is common, companies still discriminate

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By Sean Fraser     Feb 11, 2012 in Lifestyle
Tattoos have entered the mainstream and are considered an art form, but corporations continue to enforce dress codes that call for body art to be covered.
I know lots of people who have tattoos. Most of my friends and family have tattoos. Body art has gone from a symbol of the anti-social, disenfranchised and rebellious to a common medium to express oneself and to be unique.
However, corporate America disagrees quite adamantly. Many big name companies have dress code edicts that call for tattoos to be covered, or outright prohibited on their employees. This has been a cause for concern for modern young people who make it a hobby to get ink done. They fear that they won’t be able to get a job because of their tattoos. Restricting the self expression of tattoos by corporations is based on a long forgotten bias and is discriminatory against people with body art.
Tattooing has been a part of American culture for several decades. Soldiers got tattoos representing their regiment or honoring those who had fallen. Prisoners would get them to show that they were part of a gang, and to not be messed with. Bikers, outlaws and thugs got them to show their group colors and pride. This is where the modern stereotype of tattoos came from. While these groups of people still do get and have tattoos, the practice has spread to suburban America, where high school football players, cheerleaders, and even soccer moms are getting tattoos. As with every stereotype, this one does have basis in fact. However, like other stereotypes, tattooing transcended the negative aspects and became acceptable. It is this changing perception of people with body art that corporate heads don’t seem to get.
Corporations have a responsibility to provide the best service and atmosphere they can in order to attract customers. While the practices are tried and true, they haven’t taken into account that the public’s tastes and views change. According to a Creative Coast blog, 15-25% of all Americans have tattoos, yet companies still have policies against showing tattoos of any kind. I would understand covering up if someone had a tattoo that involved nudity or graphic sexual depictions. That, while entertaining, should not be something customers see. But if the tattoo is tasteful, it should not be covered up, and the employee should not be penalized for having it. The discrimination doesn’t stop at the American border, either. Take for example a British girl, who was forced to cover up her tasteful and rather beautiful body art with a cardigan sweater in hot weather even though she does not interact with the public.
While some see this issue as a small one, the growing number of people with body art that are discriminated against at the jobs, or trying to get a job, is increasing. This is a human rights issue. No one should be discriminated against because of the personal choices about their bodies. To be frank, some tattoos are so awesome, it’s a sin to cover them up. I think once the old fashioned, old school thinking, corporate heads are long gone, and a new, progressively minded group of CEO’s takes over, tattoo discrimination will end. So if you have beautiful body art, show it off and don’t let anyone keep you down.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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