Tattoos or Taboo?

Above: Tristan Stewart(left) and Donzel Williams (right) in Ontario on April 16 showing off their tattoo sleeves.

By Jessica Villalvazo

Nearly 45 million Americans have at least one tattoo on their body, which is 14 percent of America, according to Tattoo Statistics. The annual amount of money spent on tattoos in the U.S. is rounded to $1.65 billion. The average cost of a small tattoo is $45 while the average cost of a large tattoo is $150 per hour. The numbers increase as the years go by.

Tattoos, which have been around since ancient times, are created as an expression of personality and a testament to rebellion, aesthetic and individuality. Dedicated tattoo lovers become drawn to the adrenaline rush of being under the needle and some cover large areas of their bodies in artwork. The reasoning behind tattoos is a broad topic but many with tattoos can agree that it is a part of who they are.

Travis Green, 23, of Fontana, is currently a bartender at a restaurant called The State. After large amounts of money and time were spent, Green has covered himself in a sleeve of Japanese artwork, demonstrating the narrative of a Japanese folktale where a koi fish turns into a dragon.

“It is a way to express myself. it’s also a little bit of a release,” Green said. “So once I got my first one I immediately knew I wanted to get a lot more.”

As the world of tattoos is continuously expanding, so are the stigmas behind tattoos and the people who choose to cover their skin with them.

Stereotypes such as irresponsible, careless and unprofessional are given to the people who expose their ink to society. Quite frequently, those covered in tattoos are told “you won’t get a job” or “you’re going to regret that when you get older.” Although gang members and felons have a history of tattoos, not all of the tattooed population fit into that category, which is another correlation society seems to make toward tattoo lovers.

Tattoo discrimination occurs in everyday life both explicitly and implicitly. But the real concern for tattoos is seen in the work place.

Concealing tattoos can be a part of a dress code or the image your place of employment may want to keep. However, having tattoos doesn’t make anyone less of a worker and is not a valid excuse to exclude those who wish to have tattoos while maintaining a career.

“It depends on the placement of the tattoo and how easily it can be concealed. And of course the place of employment,” Green said. “But society is definitely becoming more and more accepting of people with tasteful tattoos as an expression of self and art.”

Support Tattoos and Piercings at Work (STAPAW), is a Heal the World movement that was established to expose discrimination among those who have tattoos or piercings in the work place. According to their research, nearly 73 percent of a hiring staff stated they would hire an individual with tattoos, while 6 percent said they would not. To compete with that, 76 percent of employees stated their belief of having tattoos to be hurtful to their chances of being hired. Only 4 percent stated that they actually faced discrimination. Society has created a fear between work and tattoos that it is ironically unreasonable when seeing statistics of this nature, where employers are not doing much of the judging, as those covered in ink are more so fearing the judgment.