The taboo around tattoos

For several years, tattoos have become less taboo than originally viewed. (Aaron Sousa/AQ)

Kathleen Jones, a St. Thomas University Bachelor of Education student, said when she starts teaching, she won’t be covering up her tattoos because they are mainstream and kids won’t care.

“Their parents probably have a bunch of tattoos as well,” said Jones.

But she is nervous about the interview process.

“If it’s somebody of the older generation that isn’t enthused about tattoos, are they going to discriminate against me?” she said. 

Nicky Lang, a tattoo artist and owner of The Violet and Fern Permanent Fine Art, said the taboo around tattoos has started to disappear and it is harder to find someone without tattoos than with because of the trendiness of tattoos.

Fredericton tattoo artist Nicky “Inkslinger” Lang said it’s harder to find people without tattoos these days. (Aaron Sousa/AQ)

Lang said the taboo surrounding tattoos goes way back. 

“Back in the day, most people that had visible tattoos were either bikers or sailors or just unsavoury type characters,” she said.

She said tattoos became trendy again when celebrities like Amy Winehouse and Harry Styles started getting tattoos and became recognized for them.

Jones currently works for the provincial court as an administrative services officer and purposely went into the interview for that job with her tattoos exposed.  

“The government seems to be a little bit more lenient, except I do work for the court system. I do have to have my tattoos covered if I go into the courtroom,” she said.

Fourth-year student Xavier von Gröning has 20 tattoos and said he’s had mixed experiences with job interviews.

“I have been working for about 10 years now. I definitely have seen a big shift in tone towards the taboo of tattoos,” he said. “I certainly have had some interviews where people have been eyeing [my tattoos] awkwardly.”

While working minimum wage jobs, von Gröning said they are much more lenient when it comes to tattoos being visible in the workplace.

But in some jobs like management, he has been asked to cover up.

“Some places definitely think it could be bad for their image but I haven’t really had any issues in the past couple of years because I think more people are accepting of [tattoos],” he said.

After graduation, von Gröning said he plans on going into teaching snd doesn’t think his tattoos will affect his chances of getting a job since they are becoming more accepted.

Lang said there are still some tattoos that shouldn’t be put on the body.

“Don’t get swastikas or anything or anything hate group related tattooed on you,” she said.

Racist symbols and explicit tattoos like naked women and pinup girls would turn an employer off from hiring someone.

Lang has had to do coverups in the past for people in the workforce. Some of these coverups included making pinup girls more acceptable to look at in the workplace.

“Girls with her breasts exposed is generally a no-no for most employers. I’ve definitely had to put a few clothes on a few naked lady [tattoos].”