Tattoos: Love Them or Hate Them?


February 14, 2011

It’s Valentine’s Day.  A day dedicated to love, to those we love, and things we love.  One thing I have a strong affinity to is the tattoo.  In fact, I have many friends, even HR friends, who have them.  But, it’s one of those things that can get you judged. And, while no one wakes up thinking they will judge other people by the way they look, a tattoo is a sure fire way to have people make assumptions about you.

Like anything, there are people who believe that skin art is just that….ART.  And of course there are those people who believe that anyone who would deface their own bodies must be horrible people.

The tattooed lady

In the corporate world, most organizations frown on visible tattoos.

We write policies that support this and have numerous reasons that having visible tattoos should not be allowed.  I’d like to take the other side today though and share some reasons that people embrace skin art.  I was watching a story on Ripley’s Believe It or Not and they highlighted a woman named Julia who had a rare skin condition called porphyria cutanea tarda, which causes skin blistering (and scarring) when exposed to sunlight.   She began with one tattoo to cover a scar and eventually found it as a way to cover her body scars and make her beautiful again.  This is only one of the positive reasons people choose to get a tattoo.

Why do people choose tattoos:

  1. To cover scars
  2. As memorials to loved ones
  3. It makes the person happy
  4. It reminds them of good memories
  5. It represents a transition in life

There are certain jobs where tattooing, piercings, or other artistic expression tend to be a distraction.  It is becoming a more widely-accepted practice though.  I wonder how many years will go by before it’s considered mainstream and acceptable in all work places.

What do you think?  Do you love tattoos or do you think they are inappropriate?  And, if you have one, feel free to share a picture in the comments.


  • As a member of a profession who embraces tattoos and piercings (and I have a few, myself), I think that they are somewhat mainstream. However, I see an upcoming backlash against visible tattoos and piercings in the future. It has happened before, and it will happen again.

    What was cool ten years ago generally isn’t cool today. This will apply in the future as well as it did last week, last year, and last century. The growth industry I see is tattoo removal, as so many people will want to remove such things. I think the figure on tattoo regret is about 20%, and I think that is low.

    So, the advice I always give a youngster when they ask me about tattoos is this: think HARD about what it is, where it is, and what it means as they’re a lot more painful and difficult to remove than to get put on.

  • Interesting post Trish. Living in Florida means warm weather, lots of beach time, and a very casual environment. Tattoos are so common here it seems most folks are used to them. Obviously inappropriate ones need to be covered in the workplace. But ranging from retirees who proudly served our country who have a military tattoo; to professional women who want to show a little individuality, tattoos are clearly here to stay.

  • Interesting topic for Valentine’s Day Trish. You are dead on inasmuch as people either love them or hate them, tatoos seem to evoke the passion in people.

    Personally they don’t bother me one way or the other. The only thing I have told my children is that what looks good now when you are young and fit may not look quite the same in 30 or 40 years!

  • Tattoos do not bother me at all. I do not have one (fear of needles will do that!) but have numerous staff in professional positions that do. Some are visible, many are not. My young HR coordinator has several with some visibility and this surprises no one. Many people would be shocked to know that our CFO has one!

    As for the future, I think it could go either way. Remember, tattoos are generally regarded as a sign of individuality by many today but there are ones that are gotten to demonstrate membership or allegiance with certain groups or organizations.

  • At one time, I was horribly opposed to them and thought no sane person would get one. Then I moved out of the Stone Ages and realized the really weren’t the sign of the devil (at least most of them). While I would never get one, I have come to accept and basically ignore them (unless they have gone over the edge).

Comments are closed.

The tattooed lady
The tattooed lady
Screen Shot 2019-12-01 at 17.20.39

About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.


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