I love every one of my tattoos. I’ve collected them all over the world, in Prague, The Philippines, Vegas, etc, and each one has a story, but I think the one that gets the most attention is my neck.
Contrary to popular belief, having a neck tattoo didn’t stop me from getting a good job. It stopped me from taking jobs that put a higher priority on how I look than how I work.
In the past, I’ve worked at companies that required tattoos be covered and piercings removed. Aside from the degrading nature of being told to hide ourselves in order to be presentable, I live in Arizona and being forced to wear long sleeved shirts in the summer is no small issue. I never understood why I had to forfeit my comfort for someone else’s. Why I should cover myself up so they don’t have to see our differences? In fact, that’s a sign of a bigger problem. What other differences are more important than the value of my work? What other aspects of my individuality have to be concealed in order to succeed?
When I got my neck tattoo in 2009, I had very short hair and it wasn’t going to be easily covered. But either way, a neck tattoo isn’t just another tattoo. It’s a big decision. It’s a statement about my future. My neck tattoo says “I never will never work for a company that cares more about my appearance than my contribution.”
Since then, I can’t count how many times I’ve heard people with ink say things like “I would love to get a tattoo where you can see it, but I want a good job.” Moreover, how many people, with and without tattoos, have told me that I need to realize and accept the fact that I’ll “never get a good job”… before they even know what I do for a living. Sure, I’ve probably had to put in a few more applications than I otherwise would have, but ultimately, the jobs I’ve gotten have been of a much higher caliber than those I would have settled for if my neck tattoo weren’t holding me to my principles. And my current employer, an international financial institution, has a highly talented employee because they value the diversity that makes us unique.
With that said, I understand this company may be an exception… today. And if the tattooed community continues to accept the restrictions of those who don’t accept us, it always will be. I hear things like “That’s the society we live in.” We don’t live in this society, we are this society. We make excuses saying “they have to think about their customers,” but in many cases, we are their customers. We stand up for companies that don’t stand up for us because we are not the “image” they want. I have a bachelor’s degree in business, as well as a solid resume, and I take pride in my work every single day. If that’s the “wrong image”, I don’t want the “right” one. And if we all took a stand, the talent pool for jobs that discriminate against us would be non existent.
So to those who see my neck tattoo and assume I will never have a good job, I would like to say that I happen to have four visible tattoos, one great job, and zero regrets.