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Unfortunately, the issue of tattoos in the work place continues to be a contentious one. Given the amount of mainstream acceptability that tattoos have received in the past few years, it still continues to both annoy and surprise me how little the perception of tattoos in the workplace has changed. The very idea that a person working in a professional context is somehow less professional because he or she might have a visible tattoo, is beyond idiotic. Yet our societies continue to have a problem with it.
In the past, I have seen this issue take on different contexts – everything from the military to police to job recruitment centres, have had some sort of problem with prospective employees showing tattoos. Now the most recent debate to hit the mainstream is that of teachers, either elementary or high school. People are generally wondering for example, whether or not a teacher who works in a school that has a dress code should be permitted to have visible tattoos. Well? Should they?
Personally, I don’t even think that this should be up for debate. The crystal clear answer is yes, any teacher who has a tattoo should be completely free to have it visible while teaching class. Provided of course, that the tattoo isn’t inappropriate for the public, this can’t have any negative impact whatsoever on students. To assume that it could or would, is to completely ignore the fact that students live in the same world that we all do. Tattoos are nothing new. I think it’s more than time to re-invent the word “professional”. What is professional about a suit and tie or a business skirt? Nothing. It’s just that we attribute those values to them. So, in the same way, we could all just as easily attribute professional values to tattoos. Or not – we could just ignore them altogether in the work place. The bottom line however, is that tattoos are only unprofessional if we believe them to be.