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Tattoos today

This year, my brother revealed his secret tattoo collage to my parents.

He decided that he wanted to devote his entire right leg to classic horror movie monsters. The project isn’t quite finished, but as of right now the Creature from the Black Lagoon, a werewolf and Frankenstein’s monster take life under his skin. In my personal opinion, they are beautifully done and represent something he loves.

My parents are not entirely fond of the tattoos (and by “not entirely fond” I mean “hates them with a fiery passion”). They of course gave the “well, when it’s hard to get a job don’t say we didn’t tell you so” and the “you’ll have to live with those monsters for the rest of your life” speeches. But, are these arguments as valid as they once were?

Tattoo culture has evolved a lot over the past three decades. It’s moved out of the seedy, dimly-lit tattoo parlors to “tattoo art studios” that service a mainstream culture. The equipment and sanitization process are at much higher standards. For many, tattooing is seen as less of a rebellion and more of a way of self-expression. There are even reality television shows that are central around popular tattoo parlors.

Becoming a tattoo artist is a growing and being recognized as a legitimate profession. The tattoo business is the sixth fastest growing business in America. Whether you like it or not, it is apparent that the tattoo trend might not be going anywhere for a quite some time.

So many people have tattoos and not just the tattoo-stereotypes anymore. The single fastest growing demographic that are getting tattoos are middle-aged women. New research has found that around 23 percent of college students have one to three tattoos, 51 percent have piercings other than ears and 36 percent in the 18- to 29-year-old bracket have tattoos.

Personally, I know friends with professional jobs, coworkers and professors with tattoos. Many (but not all) professional workplace environments have relaxed their body art standards from the past.

By today’s standards, my brother’s tattoos might not be as big of a hindrance to finding a job as my parents think it will be. Even if it does become an issue, there are lines of cosmetics designed to cover-up tattoos for professional settings. Also, pants. Pants won’t cover up everyone’s tattoos though.

These facts are encouraging to those who choose to express themselves through tattoo art. It seems silly to turn down qualified applicants just because they have body art. But, this doesn’t mean that college students shouldn’t do a little bit of homework on their predicted career field. Finding out dress code standards in the industry you’re going into is a good idea before you get a tattoo.

Of course, the other argument is the “you will regret them when you’re older” bit. Tattoo removal isn’t new, and hopefully the pants thing will still be valid when my brother is 50 years old. Most likely, though, he actually won’t worry about it too much when he’s older.

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