Getting a tattoo is a common way for people to express their individuality. But body ink may possibly be too efficient at making you stand out from the crowd, and a new study reveals that tattooed individuals still feel stigmatised for their choice of body art.
Tattoos are no longer exclusively adorned by long-haired "bad boys" whose preferred method of transportation is a motorcycle. They are worn by the young, the old, mothers, grandmothers — you may even find a few priests sporting one last sign of their younger years. A recent poll found that nearly 40 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 29 have tattoos. Even though tattoos have drastically increased in popularity, those with tattoos still feel stigmatised by the untattooed population. A study published in The Social Science Journal took a closer look at tattoo prejudice and found some pretty interesting concepts.
The more tattoos an individual had, the more they felt stigmatized. The more stigma that an individual felt was geared toward their tattoos, the more likely they were to conceal them and eventually remove them completely. "I can see people, like older people, they'll see us with our daughter, and they give that disgusted look, like I'm a bad person or a bad parent because I have tattoos,” says Paula, a devoted life-long tattoo fan.
A team of researchers questioned 196 tattooed and 257 non-tattooed college students. They found that having a tattoo, having tattooed friends, and having a tattooed family member was correlated with fewer stigmas against tattooed people. Reasons, such as the belief that tattoos involve major health risks and cause large amounts of pain, were most frequently referred to the reason stigmas were formed. “I've gotten in so many arguments with people over tattoos, 'Why would you get that many?' or 'Why would you get them on your face?' I'm like, 'Why do you wear jewellery? Why do you buy rings?' 'Well, you can take those off.' I'm like, 'So? I don't want to take mine off,'" says Paula.
Tattoos can make the already difficult activity of job seeking even more difficult. "Tattoos literally change your career,” Deanna Mullennax, who is now working at a bakery in Sheffield told us: "They call them 'job stoppers' for a reason." A separate study also published in The Social Science Journal found that when people get a tattoo without a personal meaning, they are more likely to regret it later. Recently, many lawsuits have been centred on workplaces’ strict policies against the body art. According to guidance from the Society for Human Resource Management, employers must provide “a reasonable accommodation for religious practices” when it comes to policies against tattoos and body piercings. Other than that however, it is completely up to the employer whether or not they want to prohibit their employees from sporting tattoos and other forms of body modification.
Hard to date
The same prejudices occur when looking for a partner – many dating sites just aren’t suitable when it comes to matching alternative lifestyles with the mainstream member so many of them have on their books. The alternative (literally) is to find a niche forum such as Click Alternatives where everyone is of the same open mind and where dating goths and tattooed people is the norm. Such sites enable a welcoming atmosphere where everyone can relax, agrees Paula. “I really don’t go out very often and certainly not away from my immediate trusted circle, so it’s hard to meet new friends who think like I do. Now I’ve found Click Alternatives, I’m much more confident.”