Friday, January 22, 2021

Body art influences employment

Looking professional is the first step in nailing a job interview. For many millennials, that means concealing their body art.

An estimated 4 out of 10 millennials have a tattoo and 70 percent say they hide their art at work, according to recent study by the Pew Research Center.

Considering college students are the future workforce of America, how would they feel about this issue.

The reactions of Plattsburgh State students were all over the spectrum.

PSUC senior nursing major Serena Buckholz believes employees shouldn’t take it personally if they’re asked to cover their body art in the workplace.

Buckholz said the discussion of tattoos and piercings during her time here at PSUC from professors has been brief.

“I think the major thing that they told us about piercings was that if we had more than one, to minimize them down or switch them out for the clear ones.”

Although Buckholz doesn’t see a problem with tattoos, she thinks they are inappropriate for the workplace.

As a nursing major, Buckholz will eventually work in a field that serves many different people. She thinks that different generations react to body art in various ways.

“I think they need to be covered because you’re not only working with people your age,” she said. “Depending on the job, you could be working with the elderly, and they don’t have the same opinions that we do about them.”

Buckholz said that in prior generations body art wasn’t as widely accepted as it is today and thinks by allowing body art to be visible in the workplace, employees set themselves up for judgements purely based on their appearance and not their personality.

“But I guess it’s really based on the kind of environment that you’ll be working in,” she said.

A College USA Today article sets the same tone as Buckholz.

“Consider the company or field itself, and whether it’s known for being more progressive or conservative: If a company is hundreds of years old, and is in an established industry like medicine, banking, or law, you can venture to guess that this may be a more conservative establishment,” according to the article.

The article stated that if the job in questions takes on a more creative role, the applicant can assume that creative expression will be allowed.

Sophomore biology major Bella Gelder supports tattoos and piercings, and doesn’t see an issue with them being visible in the workplace.

“I have no problem with them. I have a tattoo, and I have my belly button pierced,” she said. “I’m not against them at all.”

Gelder doesn’t think that content of the tattoo should make a difference.

“Some people have meaningful tattoos, and some people just get them on a whim,” she said. “Both reasons have meaning, though, I guess.”

Freshman psychology major Emily Jordan got her first tattoo over the summer.

“It’s a flower with a quote from my grandmother’s favorite book,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to do something to honor her.”

Jordan said she thinks sharing the meaning of her tattoo with the people that she meets allows them to get to know her in a more personal way.

Jordan believes having tattoos could potentially help to increase an employee’s image at work instead of harming it.

“If someone’s like me and loves to talk about the meaning of their tattoo, the tattoo will become a conversation piece for them,” she said. “And that will definitely make them seem more open and inviting.”

PSUC alumni and local tattoo artist Greg Kurtmen said tattoos can affect a person’s personality but can not affect a person’s professionalism.

“Having tattoos and piercings is a choice just like being professional in the workplace is a choice,” he said.

Kertman got his first tattoo during his senior year of college. After graduation, he worked briefly in real estate before becoming a tattoo artist.

“It didn’t take long for me to add more ‘art’ to my collection,” Kurtman said. “I got another one on my arm and one on my leg six months later.”

Although Kurtmen has a strong appreciation for tattoos, he said taking the conflicting views of others into consideration is still important.

“Self-expression is great,” he said. “But you want to be remembered for your skills, not for what you wear or have on your body.”

Email Madison Winters at

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