As Tattoos Gain in Popularity, Artists Say Stigma Lingers

Brett Blume (@brettblumekmox)

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Tattoosit seems like we’re seeing more of them, and more prominently displayed, than ever before.

A recent Pew Survey even showed 36 percent of men and women under age 25 now have tattoos.

But that Constitutionally-guaranteed right to freedom of expression can often run into a brick wall the minute you apply for a job.

Mark Smith is Associate Vice-Chancellor at Washington University, where he’s seen plenty of tatted-up college grads prepare to enter the workplace.

He thinks tattoos are starting to gain more acceptance.

“Particular industries seem pretty open to them, like the high-tech industries,” he says. “For programmers, they just want to know what you can do. They don’t really care what you look like, whether you have tattoos, even if you have a degree. It’s all about can you do the work?”

But inker Craig Johnson with American Classic Tattoos in Edwardsville says a stigma definitely still exists.

“I think we’re breaking boundaries, but just not fast enough,” he says. “You’re fighting the perception that everybody who gets tattoos is a dirty degenerate.”

Even as she waited to get her entire upper arm tattooed, a woman who gave her name as Diane said having a job prevents her from getting as much work done as she’d like.

“I’ve already been told by my boss that I can’t have them completely visible,” she says.

One recent survey showed that 60 percent of employers admitted they’re less likely to hire someone with tattoos.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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