Nov 20, 2019
Ameni Rangel, pictured January 26, 2007, says he was fired from Red Robin Restaurant in Bellevue, Washington, after refusing to cover a religious inscription tattooed on his wrists. (Betty Udesen/Seattle Times/MCT)

Why tattoos should not affect your level of professionalism

Our generation today comes with many changes, but tattoo’s in the workplace being the taboo work policy that no one seems to be talking about.

“Why on earth would you get those huge tattoos on your arm?” said every single one of my family members. If I could count the amount of times a family member told me that I have zero chances of employment because of tattoos, I would be rich enough to have the arm sleeve I have been wanting. 

It seems to be a common misconception to older generations that tattoos are career mistakes, rather than just self-expressions of art. 

Corporate jobs create policies to scare us into thinking we must fit into a box to look a certain way and hide any visual body modifications. The truth is, the jobs that have a no tattoo policy, are the most likely boring jobs. These policies are outdated and truthfully, unfair.

Why do we instantly throw out applications or not call back for job interviews because someone has a tattoo? Do corporations seriously believe that visual body modifications narrow down a candidate’s work potential? It feels like a discriminatory action to make stereotypes based on someone’s looks.

I have interviewed for a few jobs that had a no tattoo policy yet, I still attended the interview because I wanted to use this as an experiment to see how taking serious these policies are. 

During my interview with the corporation, I was asked if I would be able to hide my tattoos with make-up before coming into work if I was offered the job. Being a broke college student in desperate need for a job, there was no way this was going to be the time I asserted my needs. I took the job and kept my mouth shut.

However, as time when on, I realized that having to paint over my tattoos before each shift felt like I was putting on a mask to be someone I was not. My tattoos are an expression of who I am, whether the pieces that were simply beautiful traditional pieces that caught my eye or tattoos that represented my recovery, they were all bits and pieces from chapters from my life.

Therefore, when I was overcome with the realization that I did not have to go to work as someone I was not, I decided to put my two-weeks in and find another company to work for. It was in that moment that I realized I had an answer to my families obnoxious comments and concerns. 

The reality was, I knew from a young age that I would never work for a company who refused to let me what made me simply an individual. The realisation was that I did not want to work for a company that asserted my worth of a professional employee down to looks. 

I have goals and aspirations to work in mental health care without corporations telling me how to express myself. I can only hope that a few years down the road, we will have made progress towards policies that allow any professional to obtain the field their field of choice without facing discrimination.

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