The Negative Effects of Tattoos on a Person's Employment Opportunities

Tattoos and Employment, are They Related? Should tatoos affect a person’s employment? This is a very profound topic to many. Tattoos are usually known to affect one’s employment because employers see them as unprofessional in the workplace, or demeaning towards themselves. Yet, it is believed that tattoos and employment should not be/are not related. Tattoos should not affect a person’s employment simply because it is a form of expression of one’s self, and no employer should have the ability to turn down a person for employment, just for simply expressing themselves.

Tattoos are known to have a really big effect on people’s employment and while some people believe that are what you wear, others believe that you should not be judged by what you wear, how you look, or the tattoos that you have.

Employers believe that what you wear defines you as a person in the workplace, and defines the quality of service you can provide while at work.

Research shows that employers rather have well-dressed individuals without “unnatural” hair colors, weird piercings, or visible tattoos: according to Katherine A. Karl, who received her Ph.D. at Michigan State University and works as a Professor of Management, “Respondents also believed that uniforms had a positive impact on customer perceptions of overall service quality, and that tattoos, athletic wear, unconventional hairstyles or hair color, sweat pants, facial piercings, revealing clothing and clothing with tears, rips or holes had a negative impact.” (Karl, et al. 452).

This quote shows that employers would like for people to have a more professional look, but yet it is not proven that a better look makes a person treat their customers with more respect than someone who openly shows their tattoos.

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Many companies or organizations have been less strict on the highly strict dress code, Karl discusses that some state and federal government agencies as well as major corporations have relaxed their attitudes on tattoos, etc., hoping to attract younger people to work for them (Karl et al. 456).

According to Karl, there is a very profound stigma about tattoos, etc., and how customers believe that individuals who have tattoos and/or piercings are not as favorable as those who don’t have any showing or none at all (Karl et al. 456). Therefore, putting employees in this stigma, or in other words, shaming them, for simply expressing themselves through ink can be classified as unfair treatment because of how they are judged by how they look and not their professional skills. Many people are getting turned down for employment or getting terminated at their job just for having tattoos and many of those people are tired of this type of discrimination in the workplace.

For many people with tattoos or piercings, finding or keeping a job can be hard and many of these people are sick and tired of getting judged just on their looks, and according to the STAPAW, a Heal the World movement who strives to stop discrimination of piercings and tattoos in the workplace, “Professionalism isn’t based on how you look, it’s based on how you interact and treat others.” ( Tattoos should not be the reason that people do not get a job, or get fired from their job. STAPAW explains that tattoos, which are indeed a form of expression, are not federally protected in the workplace, but yet they are protected from criminal law by the constitution (

Many businesses are either thinking about changing their policies about tattoos or are changing them. According to a STAPAW, a majority of businesses are now changing their tattoo policy, during January 2014, 28 major companies changed their tattoo and piercing hiring policy and tattoo and policy dress code policy. This was a big step for those who were discriminated against, they were then judged for their work ethic and not their appearance ( Many major companies are loosening up on their policies on tattoos and piercings, which shows that tattoos are not that serious and people should not be discriminated against their appearance but against the way they work.

Many of the people who are fired or not accepted for a job are highly affected by this discrimination that’s happening everyday in our life. According to BBC news, Karla Valentine, from Suffolk, UK, was let go from her job because of her tattoos and according to her, “I’m 35 and quite heavily tattooed. I had a job as a mid-day assistant at a school. I was taken on having tattoos and facial piercings which during the winter months was fine as I was covered up, but when the summer arrived my arms were on show.

I was promptly issued with a “standards of dress” guide. It said that visible tattoos and facial piercings were not setting a good example and should be covered up….I was good at my job and the children seemed to like talking about my tattoos. I did start a bit of a campaign but I didn’t want to work in an environment that said because I have tattoos and a piercing I cannot do the job.” ( She was very good at her job and the kids she worked with on a daily basis loved her, yet she was let go just because of the way she appeared. Valentine explains that she feels very discriminated against and feels sad that children are taught to have such shallow mind sets ( Not only was she let go because of having tattoos, but after leaving her job, the school held a temporary tattoo stall at the school fete, so therefore they contradicted themselves for discriminating against her but they held an event about tattoos.

According to George-Ann Ryan, who reviewed the article BBC did on Karla Valentine, believes that when people are being discriminated against tattoos, it is not only silly but the fact that Valentine was discriminated against her appearance and not the way she performed at her job, was very sad ( Although tattoos can block perceptions of people, no one should be judges just for simply expressing themselves.

It is believed by many people that having employees or being a customer of an employee with tattoos or piercings showing makes them think less of their work or perception, according to Annette Rosenhoeft, “…a tattooed person also may experience negative social consequences, including negative perceptions formed toward that person because of the tattoo.” (Resenhoeft et al. 593). This statement is not only a sad one but it is showing that not only are the employers discriminating against workers self-expression but so are customers and it just goes to show how shallow minded society can be.

There have been studies done about people’s perceptions against people with tattoos and Resenhoeft explains that according to the experiments performed, people had more negative comments against the person with tattoos than against the person without tattoos, and the person with tattoos was found less attractive than the one without tattoos (Resenhoeft et al. 594). This is not only another example of discrimination but an example of how society has put this idea into people’s head that self- expression is “unattractive”.

Resenhoeft explains that throughout all experiments performed, it is found that people judge a person with tattoos or piercings less positively than they would a person without any of these (Resenhoeft et al. 595). These experiments that were performed show how people’s perceptions are only changed because society makes us believe that showing tattoos or piercings are bad. The fact that employers terminate or do not hire a person because of their tattoos shows is a perfect example of that.

Therefore, tattoos should not affect a person’s employment because it is yet a form or expression and terminating a person for expressing themselves is discrimination that should not be tolerated. People should have open expression wherever they go, whether it’s just out with friends or in the workplace. Discriminating against someone’s tattoos is wrong and all workplaces policies should be changed. People should not face discrimination at the workplace of any kind. Employees should be free to express themselves wherever they are.

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The Negative Effects of Tattoos on a Person's Employment Opportunities. (2022, Dec 17). Retrieved from

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