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MailTribune.com
  • Tattoos Still Taboo

    Tattoos have become commonplace, but they're still not always accepted at work
  • Tattoos are more popular than ever, proudly displayed on the bodies of celebrities and housewives alike, but the art form is still considered taboo in the workplace, according to local business owners and employees.
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  • Tattoos are more popular than ever, proudly displayed on the bodies of celebrities and housewives alike, but the art form is still considered taboo in the workplace, according to local business owners and employees.
    "Tattoos are more common, but our society is still fairly conservative," says human-resource consultant Fred Holloway of Medford.
    In many settings, "tattoos are still viewed as hard-core," says Kirsten Hersh of Ashland, who was asked to cover her leg tattoos while working for the Marriott Hotel in Philadelphia. "I was the face of the hotel, and they said my tattoos gave the wrong impression."
    "I felt violated," says Hersh. "I was told I looked unprofessional."
    Although people with ink on their feet, neck and hands aren't any less qualified, they will present themselves better if their tattoos are less obvious, says Bill Thorndike, owner of Medford Fabrications.
    "The world is changing," according to Thorndike, who says employers need to be realistic about the prevalence of tattoos. Currently, being discreet about tattoos is safer, but "the line is blurring."
    Tattoos are becoming accepted nationwide, but you never know how individual companies will respond to tattoos, says Holloway. Every company has an image they are trying to portray, and tattoos don't always fit that image.
    Employees may view their tattoos as "permanent artwork," but employers or customers may view them as a distraction, explains Holloway.
    At Spring Air in Jacksonville, employees cover their tattoos when they are working inside the homes of customers. "It's important to keep the customer feeling safe," says employee Christopher Harrison, who says he plans on getting tattoos even if he has to cover them. "I wouldn't want it to affect the business negatively."
    At Southern Oregon Smiles, an orthodontics company in Medford and Central Point, employees are asked to be discreet with their tattoos for the patient's sake, says treatment coordinator Ivy Ravassipour, who prefers her employees to "look as normal as possible."
    Tattoos may be the norm in the near future, but they will always be an issue in the workplace, predicts Hersh. "Our generation will get over the stigma, but tattoos still won't be considered professional."
    "There's a certain time to display your tattoos — not at work," says Ravassipour, who recommends thinking about the location of a tattoo beforehand because it might have to be covered.
    "Tattoos, like clothing and piercings, will always be an issue," says Holloway.
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