By William Perkins Daily News
Greensburg Daily News
---- — When I was growing up, I remember my parents telling me to stay away from tattoos.
My parents filled me with false fears of not getting employed because of a tattoo. These early lessons were created in response to negative social stereotypes of my parents’ generation, and they did not want me to fall into any of them. After years and years of these lessons, I did what any college aged kid would do: I got a tattoo.
To my surprise, I have not been judged, mistreated or discriminated against because of my tattoos; rather they have caused intrigue and inquiry and I have received numerous compliments. Has tattooing dropped its early titles of being a deviant and rebellious art? And has tattooing become a culturally supported art form for all social classes, ethnic backgrounds and lifestyles?
The demographics for tattoos have completely changed in the past decade by an effort to ditch the old low-life and negative stereotypes and accept a new role as a vehicle for self-expression. In 2008, a sociology professor found that popular culture’s acceptance of tattoos in hit television shows such as Miami Ink, LA Ink and Ink Master, and the presence of tattoos among actors, musicians and athletes have created a new trend that shows tattoos as a higher class possession.
Personal viewpoints can correlate with the ideas promoted by popular media. Even with tattoos becoming a growing trend, the future of tattoos’ new image is safe due to the ideology and mindset of today’s college students and future workforce leaders.
During a sociological investigation of the correlation of education and tattoos, Canadian researchers found that 67 percent of tattooed individuals they questioned were graduates of or were currently enrolled in colleges or universities. Researchers concluded that tattoos and intelligence do not correlate and therefore doubt the crude stereotypes of tattoos being related with lower intelligence.
According to sociological researchers from the College Student Journal, college students have been found to dismiss previous stereotypes revolving around tattooed individuals, and to move away from appearance-based judgment to use their decision making and judgment skills to create a profile of their peers.
As these potential CEO’s, presidents, small business owners and other professionals graduate and move into the workforce with the mentality to look beyond the skin, the fear of tattoos preventing employment will be erased.
But the future is already happening; as more and more professionals are getting tattooed, tattoo policies are disappearing. According to the Ottawa Business Journal, tattoo parlors’ new clientele are young corporate professionals. This new tattoo demographic is made up of intelligent, hardworking individuals who have come to appreciate the art but also are able to balance a professional career. These employers have relaxed the appearance policies of their companies to allow self-expression via tattoos to an extent.
The small victories create a big impact in the long run to stop appearance-based discrimination in the workplace. With tattooed business employers or employers who are accepting of tattoos, the fear of not getting a job because of a tattoo will be gone.
When we get rid of that fear, the societal image will brighten up and the old tattoo associations of deviance will be erased since the new association would be positive. All of these findings help the societal image of tattoos by showing tattooed individuals in a good light for communities.
As a college student who has tattoos, looking for internships so I can make my way into the workforce, I am relieved that my physical appearance, adorned with tattoos, will not be a barrier from having a professional career. With relief comes excitement as we see the future relationship between the art of tattooing and society unfold.
William Perkins is a student at Ball State University.