This is me. Love it or leave it.

A facebook friend of mine recently posted how she wouldn’t hire someone for her business, to watch their kids, or clean her house of they have tattoos. While I see (sort of) where she’s coming from — she’s a Baby Boomer, and it’s definitely seen less “acceptable” among people from her generation– it definitely made me think.

I got my first tattoo at 18, the summer after my first year in college. I chose to get a swallow (it’s a swallow, not a sparrow!) on my foot for a couple of reasons. The first was that, traditionally, swallows (shut up) were tattooed on sailors for the completion of a journey circumnavigating the globe. For me, my first year in college was DEFINITELY a challenge and a journey. I originally got it without any red, because that’s Stanfurd’s color– another reference to college. Another reason for choosing a bird was that in elementary school, my best friend called me Birds, because the way I wrote my name in cursive looked like Birds, instead of Linds.

Tattoo #1, freshly inked in 2007.

touchup and shading, early 2008

I got my second (and biggest) tattoo in the fall of 2008. I’d just had a really awful breakup that summer, followed by a metric shitton of emotional upheaval and huge life changes. I’d been planning this one for a while, saving up for it, but had to put it off for a couple months because things had gotten so bad post-breakup. In hindsight, getting this one might have been partially a way of externalizing all of the pain I was feeling at that point, but it also has a deeper meaning. I love the traditional style, and having the heart-shaped lock and key served as a reminder that don’t need someone else to find the key to my heart, as it were. That I’m whole as myself, not as part of a couple. It’s a big piece, and I know my parents think I’ll regret it… but I don’t. I mean, my skin isn’t perfect anyways… so I might as well add something pretty to it, right?

Freshly inked, Fall 2008

In addition to my tattoos (which I certainly see as a means of self-expression), I have nine piercings. Yup, 9. 7 in my ears, my nose, and my belly button (the product of a stupid trip to the piercing parlor at 17 where I lied about my age, hah). Do I still look pretty conservative? You betcha. In the winter, people don’t even know that I have tattoos. In the summer, they’re more obvious. Half the time, I forget they’re there until some stranger randomly comes up and touches my back — that’s a post for another time, though.

Here’s the thing, though. I have two tattoos and nine piercings. I also have TWO bachelor’s degrees from the #1 public university (go bears!) and a shitton of work experience. I’ve started a business that’s growing at a huge rate in a horrific economy and become almost totally self-sufficient in a matter of six months. I’m loyal (sometimes to a fault), compassionate, and if my school grades are any indicator, pretty darn smart. I’ve gotten one ticket in my whole life (for talking on the phone while I pulled out of a parking spot) and have never been so much as called into the principal’s office for behavioral issues. So, to be frank, while I respect her as a person, I think that outlook — to refuse, bar none, to do business with or give any responsibility to someone simply because they have tattoos– is antiquated at best. Do I initially hesitate if someone has super crazy facial tattoos or look like the lizard man? Yes. Does that make them any less of a responsible/good person? Nope. No more than not having tattoos means that you’re automatically trustworthy.  I think there’s still a line, in general, about what’s accepted… some tattoos, tastefully done, no big. When you start with the crazy flames up your neck? Definitely less socially acceptable. Appearances are important, there’s no way around it. But am I any less worthy of a job — or more importantly, your respect– because I have a couple tattoos and some body jewelry?  Am I any less awesome because I chose to express my creativity through artwork I designed myself, in a style of expression that’s been around for centuries? HELLS no. If you think I’m irresponsible, untrustworthy, or just less than you because of that… well, you’re missing out on a whole lot of fabulous over here.

{This is what you’re missing out on! Minus the cat. Plus darker hair.}

What do you think? Would you hire someone if they had visible tattoos? Does it depend on what the tattoos are of? (I, for one, want nothing to do with a person if they have swastika tattoos. Or shitty kanji tattoos, but that’s because I tend to go for idiots who have them!)

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0 thoughts on “This is me. Love it or leave it.”

  1. I have two tattoos and four piercings, plus three no longer their piercings. I had to wear a bandaid on my eyebrow piercing when I worked at YMCA camp which was just ridonkulous. Like the kids didn’t know what was under there.
    I love tattoos and I’m pretty sure my body mod does not counteract my Honors BA, Post Graduate degree and 10+ years work experience #justsaying

  2. Here, here!
    I am a tattooed (six) and pierced (five) person who is also educated, reliable, organized, loyal, and just generally someone you’d want on your team – business or personal. If someone was going to judge me based on my appearance, that’s his/her loss. (Especially considering NONE of my tattoos are visible unless I want them to be.)

  3. Let’s see… I have 7 tattoos (and an appointment to start another next month!) and something like 12 piercings.  However, on paper I have an AA, a BA, and 5 years experience as an executive assistant.  My grandma always always told me that no college graduates have tattoos or piercings and even made me take my nose ring out at a car dealership when I was 22 (the salesman actually had gang tattoos on his hands and neck!!!).  I really hope, for the sake of all the baby boomers who will be taken care of by us tattooed folk when they’re older, that attitudes change and quickly.  But until then, if I don’t get a job because of these things, I probably didn’t want to work for that company anyways!

  4. Oh *HELL* yes.  Tattoos tell me several important things about a potential candidate.
    1. People who don’t “care to” express themselves in any kind of a permanent fashion aren’t interested in taking risks.

    2. People with tattoos tend to be more creative.  Let’s face it.  It’s predominantly the artist types who enjoy such colorful expressions of themselves.

    3. And this is most important.  People with tattoos can withstand pain.  A must for working with me.

  5. I’ve got 2 tats, dying for a third.  Pierced naval and ears.  My parents flipped out when they found out, but I was 25 and hadn’t been living with them for almost 7 years.  However, I did move home b/c I was knocked up and my boyfriend of years left me.  You think the illegitimate pregnancy would have prepared them for a few unseen-unless-I-am-naked-tattoos. 

  6. Good for you! And yes, the Boomers certainly have a different view that our generation, although I think there will be a shift in the way companies view their talent’s appearance sooner or later 🙂 If you got it, you got it!
    Something 2 Write About

  7. i just saw this post thanks to a link beca (tumbleweeds) tweeted.  i agree with you wholeheartedly about people with tattoos being intelligent, creative, and successful, and it pains and angers me to hear such naive and narrow-minded comments made about people who choose to express themselves in that way.  i only have one tattoo on my arm near my wrist, and even THAT has gotten me a few dirty looks from people who know me and know that i’m a good person.  my brother, on the other hand, has one full sleeve and one half sleeve, and he’s received so many negative comments i’m sure he’s lost count, and again, i know he’s a good person with a kind heart, and to think people wouldn’t take the time to figure that out really hurts.  anyway, yeah, i agree with you and i like this post a lot!

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