So you’re finally eighteen and you can’t wait to run right out and get that tattoo that you’ve wanted FOREVER! Your mom and dad gave you a lot of grief when you first mentioned this when you were fourteen, so you’ve patiently waited until you are pseduo-out-of-their-house, e.g. at college, to get your first piece of ink. You can still hear their voices echoing in your head, “it’ll ruin the rest of your life!” Well, you wonder, as you try and decide what you want to get tattooed on you, will it ruin the rest of your life?
In the US, eighteen is the age of majority, when an adolescent becomes an adult, and legally responsible for themselves. If you get tattooed or pierced under the age of 18, you need a legal guardian or parent to sign paperwork accepting responsibility for you to be tattooed or pierced. Specific rules are set by individual states and you should check your local state or country health regulations if you have any questions. Some areas have no legislation that licenses or regulates body piercing, other places license them using hairdressing or aesthetician guidelines.
Despite a growing amount of press about tattoo removal, the one thing the advertisements do not promote is the high cost. Lasers do remove a lot of tattoo ink, but multiple treatments with different colored lasers are required to be anywhere near effective, and some skin types and some colors still don’t respond as well as hoped. For the most part, once people are tattooed, it IS with them for the rest of their lives. A lot of young men and women truly do not give much thought as to how their tattoos will effect the rest of their lives.
Your employer and workplace can set a dress code or be restrictive as to how tattoos or piercings are visible in the workplace or to clients and customers. If it’s written into a dress code or employee handbook, don’t expect much luck bucking the system. Coffee giant Starbucks requires barristas to remove piercings other than ears and cover tattoos while working. Employers in the US are allowed to set dress codes, as long as they do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, age, national origin or gender.
Large companies have rules regarding safety issues that limit body jewelry and hair styles most often if the employee would be put at risk by their own fashion choices while on the job. The next most common wording usually covers having employees present a “professional and appropriate” appearance, depending on their job duties and responsibilities. The US Army also has limits on body art. Tattoos are not allowed to extend beyond what might be covered by wearing a uniform. Due to combat training and the potential for injury, all piercing is discouraged by the military.
Growing debate exists in the sports world about tattooing. Professional players are expected to present clean-cut and team-cohesive appearances, yet they also strive to differentiate and promote themselves. Rougher, high-contact sports strive to cultivate a series of “bad boy” heroes or good guy/bad guy images, and tattoos fit right in with that. Coaches, fans, players and sports promoters are all trying to decide where the uniform begins and the players’ body ends. What rights does a team have over the hairstyles and skin decor of the players? Do players who wish to capitalize on things like product endorsements have to cater to the wishes of the advertiser as far as their appearance goes? What about advertisers that are just starting to discuss paying players to wear specific product-related tattoos? Already stick-on brands and logos are a staple of outdoor and sports events. It might not be too long before you have to have a specific tattoo in order to land a specific job.
In the Paint : Tattoos of the NBA and the Stories Behind Them
by Andrew Gottlieb