As a college student, one of my biggest worries is if I will get a job after graduation. I worry about having enough experience, getting my degree and standing out in the crowd; but I also worry about my tattoos. We have begun to live in a society that is slowly starting to accept tattoos. Some of my supervisors at work have tattoos but I still know people who do not approve of any ink anywhere on the body, especially when it is somewhere visible.
I currently have three tattoos: one on each of my shoulders and one on my left rib. My two shoulder tattoos are of “The Lion King” characters and my rib tattoo is of three Disney princesses. Each one has a significant meaning to me, but they are all easy to hide. When I got my tattoos, I made sure that wherever they were located, I could show them off in public, or hide them when I went into work or a job interview. Why? I do not want to risk someone in the office or my next potential boss passing judgment because of the ink layered onto me. I do not want to risk being wrongfully stereotyped or stigmatized. I want to be seen as the professional person that I am.
It’s a struggle. I hope to get more tattoos: my right rib inked with another “Lion King” quote, my shoulder sleeve illustrating a scene from “The Lion King,” a dachshund wrapping around my wrist, and a Dia de los Muertos design above my ankle, etc. The majority of them are ones that I am holding off on because of work. If I get a tattoo on my shoulder, I’d always have to wear long sleeved shirts. If I get a tattoo on my wrist, I’d always need a to wear a thick bracelet or watch. You get the idea. I want to make sure that whatever job position I have will allow me to show off my tattoos. Of course, if the job is amazing in pay and benefits, I would not mind holding off just a bit longer.
Personally, I think tattoos are another way for people to extend their personalities. It is a way to learn a little bit more about another person – for instance, I bet you know by now that I am obsessed with “The Lion King,” that I like Disney and Dia de los Muertos. I believe that people should be allowed to present themselves however they wish; it is our own arms, legs, backs, etc, that we are getting tattooed, not someone else’s.
I graduate this May, so I am preparing to head out into “the real world” and begin the daunting process of trying to land a job and start my career. Tattoos are a way to express myself and make me feel good. In an effort to give myself the best chance to land a job, I’ll hold off from getting the tattoos I mentioned before, but I will not hold off forever. Hopefully, sooner rather than later, tattoos can be less stigmatized in the workplace. Until then, I’ll continue to hide the ink I have now and keep my other ideas for when I am ready.