Many of you may have noticed by now, I am pretty well covered in tattoos. I have a full arm done, as well as five other spaced out artistic pieces.
As a female with tattoos, I have become used to the dirty looks they often get. I have not had this happen too often since moving to Saskatchewan but recently heard a story from one of my friends and it got me angry all over again.
Although many offices and jobs are now allowing and accepting tattoos in the work place, there are still many employers who discriminate against them. This is not illegal. A person can still deny a perfectly qualified employee because they do not like their ink. Cases have come out recently where landlords have even refused to rent apartments to tattooed people, this is also legal.
I have been presented with many occasions where I felt I had to cover my tattoos in order to be taken seriously and for people to actually get to know the real me. Every job interview I have been to I have covered them up. Many of the employers happened to be fine with my tattoos after I revealed them but risking being judged for something that means a lot to me didn’t seem worth it.
I still remember when I got my first tattoo. My first happened to be my rather large arm piece; therefore it came as a shock to most of the people around me. My boss at the time who happened to be the person I had worked for already two years, and I considered him to be like family, took one look at me and told me I had ruined my beauty and now would be viewed as a “tramp”.
This came as a shock to me, because I was the furthest thing away from this. I got good grades in school, I never drank or did drugs, at 18 I had already moved 4 hours away to follow my dreams, had taken extra tests and courses so that I could go out of province after graduating high school in grade 11. How on earth was I a tramp? Just for expressing my self through what I consider an artistic outlet.
It just so happens that my sleeve tattoo is a very personal piece. It contains my first professional camera, something that took hard work and dedication to save up for when I was accepted to the college of my choice. My hard work had paid off and I had received a scholarship to allow me to go to my dream school. But it was still an expensive career path, so I saw fit to document my success with something that lasts forever. My tattooed arm continues with a film canister to represent that I won’t forget where the roots of my profession started. The inside of my upper arm contains an Irish claddagh. This symbol represents all the most important things to me in life. It is a crest for friendship, love and loyalty. I had it on my dresses throughout my nine years of competitive Irish dancing that I had to give up for personal reasons. I needed a way to continue to show my values. The part of my arm that hits closest to my heart is the lower part. Divided in Polaroid’s is a photograph I took of my beloved dog, who was my best friend throughout the first 16 years of my life. After a house fire at a fairly young age that took with it the majority of my possessions and a high number of pets, my dog was the only survivor. He, sadly, had to be put down at the age of 16 as his legs had given out. To me this was exactly like losing a family member and my tattoo artist knew how to capture his beauty perfectly.
I am sure when many people look at a tattoo, they don’t think about the meaning behind it or the amount of time spent on creating the piece. When done correctly, a tattoo takes a brilliant artist, along with a personality and the life behind it.
The largest company’s policy to bother me regarding tattoos lately is Disney World. The company states that they will not let its employees cover up tattoos with bandages, only with makeup. However they still do not allow any kind of large tattoos on any employee working for them.
Every tattoo I have is a story from my life, with my goal being to have all the important key moments of my life story engraved on my skin to carry with me. As a photographer I love pictures, but as I have learnt with that house fire and several other instances where my possessions have been lost, nothing is forever unless it is part of you.
I am not saying that tattoos are for everyone, I am just asking that people ask before they judge. I, myself, disagree with offensive tattoos and most of the time with tattoos that carry no meaning. People, who get tattoos that they picked out of a book at a tattoo shop while intoxicated, are not on my favorites list either.