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Content Any Way U Want It!

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Content Any Way U Want It!

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September 29, 2023

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Tattoos: still taboo at work

Two lip piercings, a nose ring and a barbell through the back of her neck.

“All of these can easily be removed,” explains Alisha Yee, a black-clad freshman, from her Kreischer-Compton dorm room.

However, what she is hiding is much more permanent. Eleven star tattoos, ranging widely in size and color, adorn Yee’s stomach, side and back.

“I just really liked the idea of tattoos. Mine don’t have too much real meaning, I got them because I wanted to,” she said. “I would love to get a whole sleeve [of tattoos], but right now I don’t think that would ever happen since I would be hiding them my whole life.”

Yee is unsure about what her future career may be, and until she is certain, additional body ink is on hold. She would also remove her piercings when interviewing for a job out of fear of being judged.

“I think it’s unfair and discriminatory when businesses refuse to hire someone just because they have a tattoo,” she said. “Now it is such a common thing, people you may not expect to have a tattoo, do, so hopefully one day it will just be accepted.”

A recent poll by the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota found that 23 percent of a sample of 2,000 U.S. university students reported having one or more tattoos, and 51 percent had a piercing in some part of their body other than their earlobe. Based on those results, the clinic estimates 20 million Americans have tattoos and twice that number have piercings, according to an article put out by Ray ‘ Berndtson – an executive search firm.

Jerry Campbell, a tattoo artist and owner of Lucky Duck Tattoos in Toledo, agrees with Yee on this issue, but would never tell someone to hide a tattoo when interviewing for a job.

“Tattoos and piercings do not tell you if someone is qualified for a position or not,” he said. “The same guy that doesn’t have any tattoos could be killing people too, so you can’t tell because someone may look a little different.”

Campbell says Corporate America still tends to stereotype people who have tattoos, and he believes it’s rooted in the 60’s and 70’s.

“It’s hard to get away from the idea of when tats were associated with bike clubs and rapists,” he said. “But at my shop we are tattooing more and more people that wear suits and ties; I think the taboo is bound to change sooner or later.”

“Deep down, it doesn’t matter what corporate thinks – people are doing what they want to do, and that’s what life is all about,” Campbell said.

The University’s dining services hires students who are willing and able to work, according to Justin Elder, the student manager at the Sun Dial.

“We are not too picky when bringing on new employees, we just want to provide students with an opportunity to work,” Elder said.

Dining services does not allow their employees to have mouth piercings or offensive tattoos visible while on the job.

“The piercings are completely a sanitation issue rather than an appearance issue,” Elder said. “We have all different kinds of people that go to school here, I am going to hire the person with the most experience regardless if they have tattoos or not.”

There is currently a “piercing committee” set up to research the effects of working with food while having facial piercings. Dining services wants to allow their employees the freedom if it is deemed safe.

“Our student-employees are considered ambassadors to the university so our main concern is not offending other students,” Elder said. “I don’t think big business will fully accept tattoos and piercings until they are accepted in society.”

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