Tattoos are considered detrimental in some career paths. However, tattoos act as catalysts in other career paths. No federal law prohibits employers from making a hiring decision based on tattoos.
Increasingly, tattoos are more than a fleeting decision. Tattoos can serve as a way to display art on the body, but can also express religious and spiritual significance.
University of Oregon student Ada Ball, a member of the Native American Student Union, has visible tattoos on her arms, legs and chin. All of which are markings that represent her history and the ancestry of her tribe.
“Discrimination against tattoos in the workplace is very outdated. I don’t anticipate being in a position where a future employer would judge my chin tattoo to the point where it would affect my chance of being hired because I only hope to work where I can represent myself as who I am,” Ball said.
Based on a Pew Research Study, 38 percent (4 in 10) members of Generation Next, ages 18-29, have at least one tattoo and half of those have two to five tattoos. This is more than any of the older generations. However, in the same study 70 percent of those with tattoos said their tattoos were hidden beneath clothing for job reasons.
“It depends on the type of job, some tattoos are real job-stoppers.” Said Etzel Leguizamon, tattoo artist at The Parlour Tattoo shop in downtown Eugene.
Leguizamon has been tattooing in Eugene for almost 5 years and believes Eugene is an artistic community where people are more open-minded when it comes to tattoos.
“I always discourage people to get hand, neck and face tattoos. Unless of course, they already have a sleeve and are confident in their careers,” he said.
For many freshman at the UO, getting a tattoo is akin to a right of passage. Freshman Tayler Wagner got her tattoo on Oct. 29. It is a Bible verse from Proverbs. The tattoo is on her ribs so she can cover it for a job. “I got my tattoo because I want to experience the college life, and I feel like part of the college life is getting a tattoo.”
“I also got it to rebel against my parents. It is like breaking away and being independent,” she said.
Even with an increase in people getting tattoos, there is still a demand for tattoo removal. The Patient’s Guide reported that the percentage of tattoo removal patients jumped 32 percent from 2011-2012, because having tattoos has affected their professional lives.
For others, the tattoos they bear are less important than the other ways they present themselves.
“My chin tattoo is a strong statement of who I am and the people I come from, but my actions are indicators of who I am too. And it’s in my actions and accomplishments so far that I hope people judge me from,” Ball said.
Yuliana Barrales contributed to this story.