Millennials vs. Generation X on tattoos in the workplace: closed-mindedness or actual professionalism?

Dress codes in the workplace are criticized more and more. Women complain about having to wear heels year-round for the sake of professionalism, and men complain about wearing suits year-long in the office even when it gets really hot. When artists from Paris, Milan, New York and London have came up with things such as moccasins and polos, some might wonder who Sloppy-Hair-Brenda-From-Accounting is to tell anyone how to dress.

The same applies to tattoos in the workplace. For a long time tattoos were only worn by sailors and bandits as a sign of rebellion. As a result, when the practice was democratized by electric machines, it was stigmatized for a long time and kept as far from the workplace as possible. However nowadays, more and more people get tattoos, even Sloppy-Hair-Brenda-From-Accounting. Of course, under a long sleeved shirt and a conservative blouse this is easy to hide, but if it’s obvious it can be judged highly inappropriate. Even being aware of someone’s ink misbehavior that is not visible can lead to judgement.

Tattoos are now part of the debate of what is and is not acceptable to wear at work. And this debate somehow gets out of the workplace. Even if the argument that employees are free to wear whatever they want outside of the office can apply, this argument falls apart when the subject of the discussion is a layer deep under the skin.

While talking about tattoos in the workplace, we are attacking one’s freedom to do what they want out of the office. The world is evolving and with it the trends are too- tattoos are now in vogue, if 80’s hairstyles were once acceptable and professional, tattoos shouldn’t be an issue either. If a client is so eager to judge a book by it’s cover, maybe not working with him/her would be a good decision. The workplace is a place to work, as long as the work is done right aesthetics shouldn’t be that big of a deal.

When the workplace nowadays has problems such Ass-Grabber-Gary and Bully-Boss-Marvin, is Tattooed-Dwight the center of the problem? We can all agree, that tattooed or not, dressed like Madonna or Queen Elizabeth II, we have really too much on our plate to even talk about it.

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