Tattoos are not an indicator of the person beneath

Clara Caslin

Tattoos and piercings should not define a person.

According to, Ireland is the third most tattooed country in the world with 36 per cent of people inked. Tattooing has been practiced across the world since at least Neolithic times as revealed by mummified preserved skin, ancient art and the archaeological record. The alleged oldest discovery of tattooed human skin was found on the body of Ötzi the Iceman between 3370 and 3100 BC.

Tattooing is an art form and form of body modification where a pigment is inserted into skin to change its colour permanently. It is a very old tradition and is extremely popular in society today. A stigma around tattoos began centuries ago when the only people who had tattoos were sailors, criminals or performers.

Tattoos are a controversial topic and while many cultures have embraced tattoos, others such as Japan frown upon tattoos so much so that if you have a visible tattoo you are not allowed into public swimming pools.

According to the Health Service Executive, what is not often known is that there is no regulation of tattoo businesses in Ireland. There are no registration requirements, no minimum structural or operational standards to be attained before opening the business.

Why are people who have tattoos still judged by some members of society? Tattoos are more popular than ever and workers in the UK can be dismissed from a job because of them. A lot of people want protection under employment law and the question is, should they get it?

I got my first tattoo eight years ago, when I was 18 and I have six small ones now. All of my tattoos were thought through and have individual meaning to me. Many others get tattoos to commemorate loved ones they have lost or to symbolise something significant to them.

I think it is sad that anyone could be denied a job because of their tattoos. I don’t understand how having a tattoo is going to affect any aspect of a persons’ job. A tattoo is simply a factor of appearance. The problem isn’t with the person who has a tattoo, it’s with the person who thinks they can’t trust someone to do a good job because of it.

I didn’t think that tattoos should cause me to be judged as a person, especially in the workplace. Having been in professional settings, I have always felt uncomfortable having my tattoos on show for fear of being thought less of as a person.

Having a tattoo is not an indicator of intelligence, value or worth. It does not mean that you are not an intelligent person. Many people have tattoos and are extremely successful. I conducted a poll on my Instagram account and 87 per cent of people voted that they thought people who had tattoos faced discrimination in the workplace.

If a tattoo can be covered with clothing, I don’t see why anyone should be turned away from a job. With an estimated 36 per cent of people in Ireland having a tattoo, can employers afford to turn someone away because they made the decision to get a tattoo? Hopefully, in the near future, we will see a change in attitude towards tattoos in the workplace and people won’t fear discrimination against their personal artwork.

Clara Caslin 

Image credit: Sonja Tutty