Pro/Con: Taboo and Tattoos – Body Modification in the Workplace

A few years ago, tattoos and other forms of body modification were looked down upon and the owners were blocked from employment opportunities. Today, body art is viewed as a form of self-expression and not a bane on humanity. However, while the image is more accepted by the general population, those who possess body modification still result in lower employment rates.

Content Editor Samantha Smith

It is the right of the employer to terminate anyone’s employment if their image does not coincide with that of the company’s

It has happened before and it will happen again. An employee exercises the right he or she has to his or her body by having a tattoo, a nose piercing or colored hair and is fired for it. While it is the right of employees to express themselves, it is also in the right of the employer to choose an image they want for their company and to select employees based on that image.

It’s not prejudice, it’s just the way the company wants to be represented.

Bob Evans on Owen Road has a dress code for hostesses at the front of the house that excludes gauges, tattoos that cannot be covered by clothing and unnaturally colored hair. While the customer may be comfortable with all different forms of body modification, the image does not go along with the family-friendly, farm-fresh style Bob Evan’s tries to create for its customers.

It takes one-tenth of a second to formulate a first impression based on someone’s physical appearance. Usually, clean-cut individuals generate a much more “positive impression,” whereas people with piercings, tattoos and crazy hair may elicit the opposite reaction.

It is true, tattoos were once often considered a sign of a bad character or perhaps an indicator of prison or gang lifestyles. Thirty years ago, one out of 100 people had tattoos; today, one out of 10 have one or more tattoos. In this day and age, we as a people are more accepting of body ink.

This generalization of personality based on appearance could reflect on others associated with that person, including their employers. It is because of this that some employers have such strict dress codes. In a survey by, 60 percent of employers said that they were less likely to hire a candidate who had tattoos or piercings for fear of a misrepresentation of their business. A poor representation could lead to financial damages.

The fault is not entirely of the employer, however, for firing those inked, pierced and dyed employees. In fact, the fault could even be that of the employee. Despite the process of getting interviewed and hired, it is ultimately up to aspiring workers where they want their career to take place. If they have two full sleeves of tattoos and want to work in a bank, the probability of being hired will be less than if they want to work in an artistic environment.

Almost everyone knows that most body modifications are considered taboo in the workplace and of the decreased chance of being hired for a white-collar job when they change their bodies. People searching for a job should think twice about the decision to change their natural self into a multicolored illusion before they claim discrimination against them.

Sports Editor Hudson Villeneuve

Employers do not have the right to discriminate against a potential employee’s appearance; job performance should be the only priority

Self expression is a right held dearly by most people. The ability to demonstrate who you are is a common theme in America’s democracy. Our Constitution guarantees the freedom of speech which has been interpreted as freedom of expression. This freedom includes the growing popularity of modifying one’s body.

Tattoos and piercings are becoming ever more mainstream. For example, in a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, 40 percent of young adults have at least one tattoo.

Today’s citizens, now more than ever, are expressing their feelings through their image. New hairstyles, fashion trends, tattoos and piercings give people the opportunity to uniquely show the world who they are. However, the old prejudices regarding people who use these methods of expression have not gone away.

Some of these new looks differ from traditional views of how people should present themselves. This has caused issues when those who have done nothing wrong are discriminated against for their appearance.

While the population of people with tattoos is growing, workplace tolerance has not changed.

Those with tattoos are often associated with criminal, gang or punk activities. However, this is unethical and bias as it has lead to unfair discrimination against people with tattoos or other bodily alterations. According to CareerBuilder, tattoos are the third most likely factor to affect one’s career and work finding potential.

People need to be more mature about the appearances of others. Society is as judgmental as its ever been. 40 percent of people undergoing tattoo removal cite employment discrimination as the prominent reason for removing their ink.

Old prejudices associate abnormal appearances with bad practices. It is immoral to judge a book by its cover and to discriminate against people based on their outward appearance and not the content of their character.

When people walk by others with tattoo layered arms or piercings covering their face, they should not react with disgust. Our society should be able to look past the cover and learn more about the book before making our judgment.

While the world still does not fully accept people with tattoos, employers need to act now to ensure our society does not segregate itself. There is a whole culture of people with tattoos, piercings or unique hair colors that are barred from the high paying jobs they seek. Do not let appearances fool you, it is what’s inside that truly matters.