Tattoos like these can be seen all over campus. (Nick Alaimo/Lariat)
From tattoos to piercings, body art has exploded in our little slice of California called Orange County. It’s becoming extremely hard to find an 18 to 30 year olds who doesn’t have some type of expression on their body. Nose piercings have become extremely common with women, both hoops and studs. Tattoo’s are so prevalent that many workplaces do not even require they be covered up.
Saddleback student Alex Brown, an astronomy major, has a tattoo of a peace sign on her wrist that she got at 18, and a hoop nose ring that she got at 16. Neither of them hold any particular meaning to her, she just likes how they look.
“I’ve never had to cover it up at work” said Brown, who has worked as a cashier at Target and Petco, both major corporations.
Although Brown has never been treated differently because of her tattoos, she has been treated differently due to her nose ring. She has never been allowed to wear her nose ring at any place she has worked. Even when not working Brown still faces negative feedback.
“Old people always look at me like ‘oh my god it’s the antichrist’” she states.
Another Saddleback student Marco Bejarano, a business accounting major, has two tattoos. His first is a tattoo of a helm on his forearm, each grip on the helm represents a different member of his family and the unity between them. The second is a shipwreck on his ankle which serves as a symbol of Bejarano’s love of the ocean, as he is an avid sailor, surfer, and bodyboarder. He has never had to cover up his tattoos for work, but he has faced some adversity elsewhere.
“The only time I’ve had any issue was when I was signing up for the marines, my ship tattoo was too big and couldn’t be covered with one hand” states Bejarano. It seems as though the military is stuck in the past regarding tattoos, even farther than corporations.
Whether or not your piece of body art means something as intimate as your ties to your family, or whether it means nothing more to you than a way to look cool, it’s clear that tattoos have ingrained themselves in our culture. Southern California is one of the most progressive places in the United States and it shows through our extremely liberal tattoo policies, but other body art like piercings are still discriminated against.
This could be due to the fact that tattoos are permanent and piercings can be removed. If an employee has some originality in the form of a tattoo there’s usually no choice in the matter for the employer, especially if the tattoo is in a difficult place to cover up. But a nose piercing or earring can be easily removed, stripping the employee of their own ability to exhibit personal expression. Although some companies are making strides in the tattoo department, the discrimination against piercings veers us ever toward the dystopian corporate controlled future.