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Tattoos are sad and stupid – we should discriminate against people with them

20 August 2014

3:31 PM

20 August 2014

3:31 PM

It’s not often you can blame Samantha Cameron, Sandra Howard and Cheryl Cole for a social trend that blights the job prospects of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of men and women, but it’s out there. I’m talking about tattoos, which have travelled like inky climbing roses up the bare legs of countless Brits, from the bottom of society right to the top. Or from the top to the bottom, depending on your starting point. At one end of the social spectrum you have Cheryl Cole with that rose tattoo on her bottom, which she claims cost the price of a small car; at the other, you have SamCam’s little dolphin on her ankle.

I have a feeling that Sandra Howard’s tattoo last year may have been temporary, so doesn’t really count, but still, it’s giving a social sanction to the middle classes trying to act like a bit of rough trade. My grandfather had a tattoo but he was a bona fide seaman and his was an anchor on his arm – that was fine; de rigueur, in fact, for sailors at the time. For professionals and celebs to be going in for it is, at best, a bit sad – that’s them being provocative, you know – and at worst, a shocking and bad example to people who don’t know any better.

There is a bit of a debate going on at present – this being August, it’s not terribly heated – about whether employers are within their rights to avoid employing people who have visible tattoos. A report for the British Sociological Association last year suggested that many managers take a dim view of the phenomenon. Andrew Timming of St Andrew’s University who carried out the research – a fun project, as sociology goes – suggested that there was a ‘stigma’ attached to visible markings. Employers seemed to think that people decorated with, say, motifs from the Book of Kells or the motto, ‘Everything Happens for a Reason’ (I’m not making that last one up), might reflect badly on them. So they either dismiss staff who get tattooed or refuse to employ those who already are. And they are within their legal rights.

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Cue the backlash: someone once called Matthew Whelan (now known as Body Art), the UK’s most prolifically tattooed man and – wouldn’t you know it? – a Lib Dem activist, has launched an e-petition to safeguard the rights of those with bodily modifications. He was nine, apparently, when he just knew that he was someone with a really enormous tattoo trapped inside a normal epidermis. And he now wants us to recognise the tattoos as an expression of personal identity – a bit like religion. We could sleep easy about all this, perhaps, were it not that, according to the British Association of Dermatologists, one in five Brits now has a tattoo. Mind you, it’s an ill wind, etc. Think of the fees to be gained from surgical removal.

Now if I were an employer with a choice of employing Mr Art or someone who looked less like an ancient Briton in woad I think I know who I’d go for. It’s not just the irritation of looking at a stupid slogan or a perfectly hideous bit of design on someone’s face or neck all day; it’s the thought that the individual who does it is apparently oblivious to the shifting, ever changeable nature of the human psyche. In other words, they are forever (pending expensive treatment) locked in the skin of the adolescent self that thought it a good idea to commission a climbing plant to go forever, distractingly, up their calf, without a thought for the respectable selves they may become.

It’s like tattooing yourself with the name of your first boyfriend. In fact, I think tattoo parlours (which flourish in places like my home town where nothing much that’s actually productive does) should be obliged to inform their clients that the procedure may not just cost around £120 for an inspirational motto but may damage their job prospects in perpetuity. David Beckham succeeded despite his tattoos, not because of them.

Mind you, the other day I found myself looking at a Greek tag on the back of a girl’s neck in a queue at a train station – a really irritating way of signalling that you have an intellectual side – and the annoying thing was, I found myself trying to read it. An invasive procedure, from every point of view.


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Show comments
  • Naxirel

    true tatoos are sad and stupid

  • Steve McGill

    Yeah, hate tatoos.. not nice..

  • davycoolguy

    I find it interesting that the tattoo people get tattoos to be tough and then they whine like little babies because they can not accept the fact that people hate their fashion choice. That is ridiculous. You know what? I am a guy and my hair is longer and if anyone ever comments about my hair as has happened on occasion, I just laugh. I am very ok with my appearance. My point? Maybe some of you tattoo folks should have treaded a bit lighter , if you get so easily bent out of shape.

  • davycoolguy

    I do not get the whole thing. Sad that people are so easily manipulated. Notice most tattoo people smoke. They have that insecure , follower mentality. I am sure there will be some wise guy who “Claims” they are a rocket scientist or whatever and that they have tattoos . Even these people, if they are intellectually honest would put money on the convicted felon as more likely to have tattoos than a professional.

  • Knuckles Mutatis

    Where I live, in metro-Detroit, it’s mostly white trash and the like getting tattoos these days, and considered pretty dated (as in pre-1993…that stuff started dying as of the Detroit Garage scene).

  • Lilly

    Just let people do what they want.

  • Kyle

    “…it’s the thought that the individual who does it is apparently oblivious to the shifting, ever changeable nature of the human psyche. In other words, they are forever (pending expensive treatment) locked in the skin of the adolescent self that thought it a good idea to commission a climbing plant to go forever, distractingly, up their calf, without a thought for the respectable selves they may become.” Exactly.

  • pabarge

    Look at the awful Melanie McDonagh, the author of this here:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/incoming/article8490627.ece/alternates/w300/Melanie.jpg

  • Paul Bradley

    mutilation of the body has no advantages.

  • waldopepper

    these debates are pointless. a bit like arguing the rights and wrongs of dangerous dog breeds with pit bull owner. theres no point, they always know best. people are polarized by tattoos. just because cheyl cole or david becham has them doesnt mean tattoos are not trashy. they simply are. if you have tattoos you look like trailer trash to most normal people. now if you want to debate why that is, then thats another issue and society norms do change over time, but for the moment society views tats as trashy. and employers should be able to discriminate. employment is about serving ones customers, not about trying to convince society how to react. i guarantee those same people with tats who bleat on about acceptance of how they look, and how its all about “freedom of expression”, would think twice about hiring a male lawyer who expresses himself by cross dressing in the office and turns up to court with a full beard and high heels and a skirt.

    i operate a promo girl agency and we wont take girls with visible tattoos as despite what girls might think guys simply dont like looking at girls with tattoos. these are companies paying for these girls on site, so the fact that these clean cut larger brands dont want a bar of them speaks volumes i think. business is business, so if the greater populace liked tattoos im sure it would be a pre requisite when companies book us that we must supply girls with tattoos. and we would get angry clients calling us after the event refusing to pay the bill because the girls we supplied didnt have tattoos and were not trashy enough. but we dont get those calls. funny that aye. here endeth the lesson.

  • InstantTeaParty

    The reason I don’t have any ink is because you don’t put a bumper sticker on a Ferrari.

    Pity those idiots and their low self esteem.

  • Arsenal1Again

    Beckham is rich and his tattoos look cheap.

    As for tattoos themselves, they’re a personal choice. People have fought wars in the past and given their lives so you can make personal choices in a free world today. Unfortunately there are people with personality disorders who think these people shouldn’t have that right. They need more sessions with their therapist.

    It’s a personal choice to believe in God, but the same tattoo haters will say you have to believe in God … it’s too funny. They’ve missed out on so much in life and at the end of it they’re just worm food. All that hate and judging was for nothing. lol

    • davycoolguy

      I am an atheist and I loathe tattoos.

  • Ben Fuller

    I find this article offensive and disgraceful. While I think tattoos on face are stupid and possibly silly to have on neck head or hands as bot only are you marked for life you are giving a reason to judge you.

    What I find offensive is that people like me with tattoos that can be covered with a long sleeve shirt or remain hidden should be and are discrimated against.what I do with my body is No one else’s buisness. If I am more than qualified and the best candidate for the job I should get that job on that bases and not be refused the job because I have tattoos. Yes if I were to say be applying for a job as a teacher then visible tattoos and what not would not be acceptable. But in most jobs what I have on my skin should not be a factor.

    Discrimination is discrimination regardless of who it’s aimed at and why. It’s articles like this that really annoy me saying because I have A tattoo I should be discriminated against. Your entitled to your opinion on tattoos as I am mine. At the end of the day jobs should be about who is the best candidate for the job and nothing else.

    And I think this Mr body art is doing more to damage the image of people with tattoos than help them. There is a point tattoos stop looking good and start looking stupid. There is a point where tattoos stop being a love and become an addiction. And I think to have ever square inch of your body tattooed you have to be stupid. He new the stigma people in work place have with tattoos and did it anyway. I think discrimination has to stop in all forms as as long as discrimination survives in one acceptable form some people will think it’s ok to descriminate against everyone.

    If u don’t like tattoos fine but how dare you judge and say people with them should be discriminated against.

    • davycoolguy

      Ironic, isn’t it? You are right it is nobodies business, just like it is nobodies business how I run my business. I own a real estate agency and quite frankly tattoos look unprofessional. People judge appearance all the time. Try wearing jeans and having long hair{If you’re a guy} for a Wall Street position and see how far you get. I happen to have longer than average hair for a guy but I do not sulk like you. If I had to, I would cut my hair for a certain job. It is called life. There are ramifications for your actions. You should have thought about that, before you inked.

  • Ben Fuller

    I find this article offensive and disgraceful. While I think tattoos on face are stupid and possibly silly to have on neck head or hands as bot only are you marked for life you are giving a reason to judge you.

    What I find offensive is that people like me with tattoos that can be covered with a long sleeve shirt or remain hidden should be and are discrimated against.what I do with my body is No one else’s buisness. If I am more than qualified and the best candidate for the job I should get that job on that bases and not be refused the job because I have tattoos. Yes if I were to say be applying for a job as a teacher then visible tattoos and what not would not be acceptable. But in most jobs what I have on my skin should not be a factor.

    Discrimination is discrimination regardless of who it’s aimed at and why. It’s articles like this that really annoy me saying because I have A tattoo I should be discriminated against. Your entitled to your opinion on tattoos as I am mine. At the end of the day jobs should be about who is the best candidate for the job and nothing else.

    And I think this Mr body art is doing more to damage the image of people with tattoos than help them. There is a point tattoos stop looking good and start looking stupid. There is a point where tattoos stop being a love and become an addiction. And I think to have ever square inch of your body tattooed you have to be stupid. He new the stigma people in work place have with tattoos and did it anyway. I think discrimination has to stop in all forms as as long as discrimination survives in one acceptable form some people will think it’s ok to descriminate against everyone.

    If u don’t like tattoos fine but how dare you judge and say people with them should be discriminated against.

    • panait ciprian

      any job that deals with people makes visible tattoes unacceptable. Also in other jobs it is not usually accepted because it means you might be aggresive or not mentally sane. Maybe is not true in your case, but for an employer is better not to take the chance for you to prove yourself to be some serial killer when the pay is late for a day or two. Think about it!

  • Kirsten

    All I will say, is that I’m covered in tattoos, even my hands. I have a full time office job making great money and I own my own real estate investment company. I’m only 25 and well respected without the worry of a job or, what society thinks of me. It is my body and I do as I please. There is no “herd” mentality here. I have designed all of my tattoos not based on social media or society but of my own desires.
    Short story short, tattoos aren’t effecting your life. To see them on other people doesn’t kill you or harm you or your family. Why do you worry so much about other peoples appearances? Sounds like you need to start worrying about yourself.

  • trucker pearson

    I wonder how long Melanie spends each morning trowling industrial proportions of slap on her withered old mug? I wonder if she gets it surgically removed at night?
    Imagine plastering your own FACE with whale blubber etc. disgusting

  • http://nouvellesdufermier.wordpress.com andrew moss

    It is doubly cursed. Rarely can a person with one get a decent job outside the entertainment industry. Indeed David Beckham himself has starting covering his up in decent company. Then people who have little money are likely to be not the brightest, bored and drunk enough to get one. It is truly a sign of social standing.

  • Mentious

    Forty-Plus Things A Tattoo Says About a Woman (and a Man)

    http://celibacy.info/Forty-Plus_Things_A_Tattoo_Says_About_A_Woman.html

  • Juju Onyuyu

    Ink bees lookin especially stoopid on dark skin negroes!!! but dey kewl now….

  • Jamie

    If you think tattoos are offensive, then you are very easily offended and it’s time for you to open your mind.

  • Diana Lynne

    It seems so many people are getting them, I wonder if there’s anyone out there like me who just doesn’t like them. I just think they’re not attractive on a person’s body. Period. No other reason.

  • amber

    tattoos are not a form of branding. nazis used it that way, to print numbers. not beautiful pieces of art. tattoos are beautiful and whether you people like it or not, it’s a growing trend and about 80% of your children or grandchildren are going to have them

  • Frank Rodriguez

    I don’t think anyone should be “encouraged to discriminate” against another person for any reason. Isn’t life grim enough? What surprises me about the tattoo phenomenon is how “unpopular” temporary tattoos are. I think everyone who wants a real tat should try a temporary tattoo first. Then if you encounter discrimination, or you boss tells you that you have to cover it up, then you can at least “wash it off” or wait for it to fade away. I think that all too often people get real tats without thinking about the potential consequences in their interactions with other people. It’s the same with people who dye their hair some neon color and expect that the rest of society is going to be cool with it. If you own your own business or you’re a successful athlete or entertainer, or you don’t have to work at an “ordinary job” then by all means, get all the tattoos you want, but if you have to work for “somebody else” and that person or entity is “traditional” then you’re pretty much screwed.

  • Salaam Aliekum

    Please join our anti-tattoo discussion group on Facebook
    https://www.facebook.com/TattooFreeLife

  • Dealbe

    From my perspective, intentional body modification to satisfy an emotional need, control issues or need for attention, is intrinsically un-natural and wrong. I also feel it’s very careless and disrespectful of the only skin we have. There are many other, less damaging ways to express ones self. When I see a person with tattoo’s; before I actually get to know them, I am inclined to judge them, rightfully or wrongfully, as being damaged or having problems beyond their personal control. Granted we all have problems, but why choose to make them indelible in the eyes of others who might be distracted by the pictures and inclined to judge? You’re immediately limiting your life possibilities. Ultimately, we have only a finite number of trips around the sun, so do what you will if it makes YOU happy!

  • http://www.algoreisabidfatidiot.com/ Rev Jim Jones

    there’s nothing wrong with sporting a tattoo and as well nothing wrong with not finding them attractive. If you want one, get one but don’t complain when others find them unappealing; including employers.

  • Mukkinese

    More pathetic snobbery.

    Can’t see past the surface, so let’s just judge on that. Come on Speccy, this kind of thing is just click fodder…

  • Robert Lehr

    Disgusting, low class self mutilation, thoughtless behavior. These people should definitely be avoided, our children protected from them, and these “tattoo parlors” should be illegal.

    • Suzanne Rojek

      I trust youre being sarcastic?

  • FR

    Oh dear, now The Spectator has started to drum up some of
    the dreck of life…

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