Tattoos & Body Mods In The Workplace


by Rachel Rice

Discrimination (noun): “The unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex” (Oxford Dictionary).

Most people believe that the job market in the United States is devoid of discrimination, but a major form of it still exists. Discrimination on the basis of tattoos and body modifications is still rampant. The vast majority of people with tattoos, piercings, and other body modifications are asked at least once about how they plan to find or maintain an occupation. This speaks of the bias against personal expression so present in many employers today. It is not a question that tattoos/body modifications are a form of self-expression just like any other and should be allowed in any workplace (except for when given body modifications would pose a threat to safety).

“It’s a sign of someone who is defiant and a rebel,” said one anonymous employer being interviewed for an AOL article when asked about tattoos.

This is odd because people from very young ages are taught “don’t judge a book by it’s cover”, yet the phrase rarely rings true in our society. The law itself states that employers can choose not to hire people on the basis of tattoos and body modifications, as well as certain hair lengths and colors, which only serves to promote superficial biases in our society. It’s time the nation practices what it preaches and looks at qualifications alone.

The problem is that so many people have embraced the idea that tattoos are a cry for attention, and self-centered workers can’t make work their first priority. Saying that people get tattoos for attention is the same as saying that people tan for skin cancer. It’s a possible side effect, not a goal.

Another reason the discrimination on tattoos and body modification is unjust is that other forms of beautification are permitted within the workplace. No one bats an eye if a woman bleaches her hair blonde; but if that same woman dyes her hair pink it’s cause for termination. If someone wants to paint  their nails it’s okay, but if someone wants color on their skin it’s unprofessional. If a girl gets her ears pierced it’s standard, but if a guy gets his it’s a horror story. Irony is abundant in these double standards. It only goes to show that people are scared of what they do not understand.

In conclusion, tattoos and body modifications should be protected in the workplace. Discrimination against tattoos and body modifications is just as bad as any other form of discrimination and must not be tolerated.


Works Cited

“Tattoo? How To Still Get Hired.” AOL Jobs. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 May 2015.

“Definition of Discrimination in English:.” Discrimination: Definition of Discrimination in Oxford Dictionary (American English) (US). N.p., n.d. Web. 08 May 2015.