Do you remember the episode of Friends in season two when Rachel and Phoebe get tattoos?
It was Phoebe’s idea and Rachel had second thoughts, but then follows through and gets a heart tattoo on her hip. Phoebe is scared of the needle and only gets one pin-prick sized blue dot. It’s referred to as a tattoo of the world (from very far away).
At the time Rachel and Phoebe got their tattoos their characters were 26 and 29 respectively. With 29% of the lead characters having a tattoo, the 1996 show was a snapshot of American society 11 years later.
A recent study by the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology sited that 25% of U.S. adults age 18-50 have tattoos. One-in-three (35%) adults age 18-29 have at least one tattoo.
According to a 2006 U.S. appeals court ruling, Rachel and Phoebe were wise to get their tattoos in easily-coverable areas. The court ruled that police officers do not enjoy First Amendment protection and can be subject to department uniform rules, which required that tattoos be covered.
Employers are beginning to take a hard stance on excessive body art. Companies hire individuals who match with the company image and culture. If that doesn’t include visible tattoos, those who are noticeable inked may be out of luck.
In many parts of the country police officers must wear patches or winter clothes year-round to cover tattoos. Some police forces even turn away applicants with visible tattoos.
Even Uncle Sam is taking a stand on image protection. The Air Force prohibits tattoos that cover more than 25% of exposed body parts and any above the collarbone.
Tattoos are a part of American culture and are firmly entrenched in our society. But your body has a lot of canvas to work with. So, you might want to hold off on that flaming skull tattoo you were planning to get on your neck. I’m certainly glad I wear my art on my back.
What’s the tattoo culture like in your workplace? Have you experienced tattoo regret? What have you done about it?