Tattoos & Piercings: Becoming Professional in the Next Generation

Tattoos and piercings belong in professional settings as they are a form of art that travels on human canvases. Millennials and Gen Z are beginning to change the stigma around tattoos and piercings in professional settings. Tattoos and piercings have been taboo in professional settings in the past due to the negative connotations directed towards tattoos and piercings from their representation of gang
affiliations and other history.

Tattoos have a rich history and some indigenous cultures, including the Maori tribes of New Zealand, who view tattoos as ritualistic and use them to tell a story of their heritage, accomplishments, and family. Tattoos are a symbol of status and tradition and have been making a comeback as a traditional form of art that Maori people and non-Maori people are all looking to receive.

Piercings have their own rich history and had their own symbols of status and are still a large part of the
culture of tribes in Africa. Most fascinating, the oldest mummy, Ötzi, who lived around 3,000 B.C. had pierced ears.

Today, tattoos and piercings are on the rise and more and more people are getting tattoos. I have three
tattoos and counting as well as some piercings, though not all of them are always visible. I know that over the course of considering my professional career, I have put more thought into where I wanted tattoos and piercings before going to have them done.

Tattoos and piercings are gaining popularity, and more specifically in younger generations born in 1990-
2000 as they begin to turn 18. The view of tattoos has shifted from taboo and reserved for gangs and bikers, to more and more mainstream and widely accepted.

Another shift in view is from dark and obscene to being viewed as a form of art. Other large groups of people who are commonly tattooed are members of the armed forces. Army, Airforce, Marines and Sailors seek out tattoos that carry meanings from their jobs, units, and special accolades. Many tattoos received by members of the Navy date back to maritime superstitions including rope representing
having served as a deckhand, and the sea swallows representing 5,000 nautical miles traveled.

I have tattoos that relate to my life and travel. I have a tattoo that is a representation of my love of ice hockey, and a tattoo in representation of my love of softball as well. Both of these tattoos I can choose when to show off as they are in locations on my body that are easily covered with clothing. My tattoo depicting my travels includes the outlines of the countries I traveled to and a sea swallow because I have traveled more than 5,000 nautical miles by boat. This tattoo is on my ankle, and I would need to use long pants or stockings to cover it, not that I would want to.

More professional workplaces should accept visible tattoos as more people who are preparing to enter the workforce are getting tattoos. Professional workplaces that do not allow visible tattoos or require tattoos to are covered are ostracizing a large, growing population. Tattoos live on for a generation and in many cultures, their traditions are passed down to the next generation.

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