When you guys last heard from me, I was giving you a review of my new favorite book, After by Anna Todd. In that post, I opened up a discussion about how people see tattoos and piercings. This got me thinking more about that topic since I myself have three (soon to be four, sorry mom) tattoos and twelve piercings. So, I wanted to go more in depth and talk to someone who themselves has tattoos and works in the professional world.
With this in mind, I decided to interview my SCOM professor, Sarah Taylor. I chose her because 1) she has tattoos and works for JMU, 2) because she’s so personable and easy to talk to, and 3) because I thought she would have an interesting perspective on the subject.
Sarah double majored in Women’s Studies and English Literature (impressive I know) for her undergraduate degree, where between her freshman and sophomore years of college she got her first tattoo; she was 19 at the time. What was the tattoo of you ask, it was a Celtic knot or trinity on the top of her foot; which represents Catholicism and the Holy Trinity. However, for her the trinity represents mind, body, and spirit; and her stepping away from the Catholic church. And after some mental counting on Sarah’s part, she told me that she has 11 tattoos in total. Along the way she also went to graduate school to get her Master’s in Communication Studies.
For Sarah, tattoos have meaning in one way or another; she even said, “beauty is meaning.” She told me that her brother was the first to have gotten a tattoo and that having a meaning for your tattoos stemmed from being able to explain to someone the reason for getting said tattoo, like being in a particular place you wanted to remember or some life event. Each tattoo has a story behind it whether or not you had a planned meaning for it. Sarah told me she loves every one of her tattoos and can’t imagine not having them all.
Sarah’s first “big girl” job, as she put it, was at a digital marketing company called hibu. She worked with small business owners and their social media/internet presence. It was more or less a sales position. She also came to realize that it was very laid back, especially concerning tattoos, she had co-workers who had more tattoos than her, and they weren’t trying to hide them. With this in mind, she did go to the interview fully covering her tattoos not wanting to risk it. However, when she moved to a different position, where she was training people, she did have to pay closer attention to covering her tattoos. This led to the job she held after digital marketing because she was working for an educational company where she trained teachers. Her boss said that when she was in the office with co-workers it didn’t matter if they were covered, but if she went out to train teachers, she had to cover them even if that meant wearing skin colored bandages. When Sarah interviewed for JMU she said you could see some of her tattoos like the one on her foot and forearm, but that she wasn’t concerned about it. She said, “I was unapologetic about showing my tattoos at that point and if they didn’t like what they saw then it was too bad.”
What would you say tattoos say about a person? Bad, good, or other?
After asking this question Sarah gave me a statistic, saying that 55% of Americans have tattoos, which leads her to believe that there has been an attitude change towards tattoos over the years. She said she doesn’t look at people, who have tattoos, negatively. Instead, she approaches them with curiosity and an open mind to look beyond the tattoos. She did warn that we have an unconscious bias towards tattoos that we have to be mindful of, however.
Sarah touched on how tattoos are a generational thing; saying how tattoos really started becoming popular with the military around WWI and WWII. Men would go to war and come back with tattoos of various depictions, so for a long time, it was more normal to see men with lots of tattoos than women. She even asked me,
“Can you see a woman
in the 50s with sleeves of tattoos?”
and it was funny because yeah, she was right, you wouldn’t. This way of thinking is changing though, women are seen with more and more tattoos now, but for people who still think of tattoos being for men more than women they may be quick to pick a man over a woman with tattoos for a job position; fellow blogger @digdontcare wrote a post further discussing inequality of the workplace. This is also just another way woman are being put down for trying to express themselves in the same way a man does.
To wrap up my interview I asked Sarah her thoughts on the “link” between tattoos and piercings. She says she understands why people link piercings and tattoos, they’re both subversive things we can do to our appearances; they both undermine societies views of “normal”, so they are seen as the same. With this in mind, Sarah says that piercings just aren’t for her.