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Tattoos and the workplace

Emily Cooper, School News Team Leader

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Tattoos are often stories told through unique drawings and writings that permanently stay with you forever.

Although tattoos are beautiful masterpieces on the body, many students worry about how it will affect their future when it comes to jobs.

“I have a total of three tattoos,” Ms. Nicole Bolek, social studies, said. “I got my first tattoo when I was 18, and when I got that tattoo, I made sure it could be covered up and would not be visible based on the fact of future employment. Like it or not, our professional world operates by a set of rules and I did not want to jeopardize any opportunities in my future or have to wear long sleeve shirts every day! I did not get the one on my arm or ankle until I was 38 and 39.”

Many senior students have tattoos, and they got them for specific reasons. Each tattoo is different from the last.

“I got my tattoo for my family. I have a constellation for mine, my father and my brother’s birth month, and a moon next to it for my grandfather who passed away,” Taylor Stachovic, senior, said.

Tattoos are to recognize so many different aspects of life like how great each life is, remember a loved one, and to express yourself.

Bolek said, “The one on my arm is titled LOVE.  It represents the beauty and importance of love in my life. The one on my ankle is in honor of my mom.  It is her first initial and a dancer.  When she was told her cancer was terminal by the doctor, she looked at me and said, ‘This is not how I thought my song would go, but at least I can still dance.’ The one on my upper back is a piece of artwork by Keith Harring. It is five dancers, and it represents a celebration of life — something we need to do everyday! My tattoos honor my life and the amazing people who are helping me write my story.”

Other teachers at MCHS have multiple tattoos.

“My first tattoo is of a vine, and it’s on the top of my right foot.  I got this one when I was 22, and it stands as a reminder that we can always grow, even in the harshest of conditions,” Ms. Olivia Gerk, English, said.

Each tattoo is a different story, expressed on a different area of the body.

“My second is on my left wrist, and it is a Chinese brushstroke symbol for ‘balance.’  I got this when I was 28 as a reminder to always try and balance my job, family, education, free time, hobbies, and anything else. Balance is the key to success in life!” Gerk said.

Each story shined by a different tattoo is expressed to represent what one individual believes in the most.

“My third tattoo is a group of paisley flowers on my left shoulder that I started when I was 37.  The two main flowers have my daughters’ initials in their centers, and I am adding four more flowers to represent my mother and her sisters. I like to think that this tattoo is a symbol of the beauty within each woman; a reminder that women can fully bloom and show off their beauty when given the best opportunities to grow,” Gerk said.

Tattoos allow people to express themselves, but does it really affect if you should get a job or not?

“I knew it was gonna affect future job opportunities, but I believe that if you judge a person on their tattoo then shame on you. You shouldn’t work for someone who doesn’t support your tattoo,” Stachovic said.

When it comes to employers they are prohibited from discriminating against candidates based on gender, age, national origin, disability, and many more from different categories. However, there are no current laws that prohibit discrimination against people with visible tattoos, body piercings, unnatural hair colors, and so on. There has been different efforts to make body art and body modification protected classes, but none have been successful, Workitdaily.com, a website dedicated to helping unemployed individuals get jobs, said.

Each diverse workforce in which you will be involved in has different expectations for you, no matter if you become a teacher or a welder, tattoos are bodywork in which you freely express yourself. Jobs like their employees to be conservative individuals while in the workplace.

“When it came to thinking if they would impede with me securing a job, I simply decided on locations that could easily be covered up for more formal situations. I was raised in a very conservative family, which did not look upon people with tattoos in a very accepting manner.  I felt that in order to come to my own and express myself, as well as respect my family’s views, I would find spots for my tattoos that would not blatantly upset anyone,” Gerk said. “This allows me to have my ‘reminders’ of growth, balance, and female beauty without having to worry about jobs, or those situations in which my skin art is not widely accepted.  I don’t even think they knew I had my tattoos when I interviewed.”

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The student news site of Minooka Community High School in Minooka, Illinois
Tattoos and the workplace