Ilustrated Men and Women

As a member of the senior set I have had a little trouble with tattoos. I must admit that as the years go by I have come to accept the occasional butterfly on the shoulder or the Chinese character symbol on the wrist or ankle. But I still cringe at the full arm or leg length colorful designs that turn young people into a modern day Gueequeg, the head to toe illustrated South Sea harpooner in Melville’s Moby Dick.

Well now the overkill in body art is being linked to job opportunities and career advancement. A study out of Scotland and one out of Texas Tech ( as reported in the Economist) found that those individuals who have extensive body art have a more difficult time convincing HR managers that they are qualified for the job posting. The illustrateed job applicants are often seen as people who may be involved in illegal drugs, firearms or crime.

Such prejudices are unfortunate but the stigma of tattoo overkill is real with the result that some job applicants who have experienced the prejudice are beginning to engage in laser tattoo removal. According to one study, tattoo removal has increased by 440% in the last decade and there is no reason to believe that this trend will end anytime soon.

Even the United States military is getting into the business of frowning on extensive body art as it has set a new standard for grooming including tattoos. According to US military officials, head, neck and extensive body tattoos and body art that send a racist or sexist message will not be tolerated and likely will lead to a rejection from the recruiting process. This decision by the military will not be easy as in one case a battalion seeking to recruit new soldiers had to turn away 50 applicants because of over the top tattoos.

Let’s face it body art is here to stay and people like me will just have to accept illustrated men and women as a generational thing that has created an entire cottatge industry of dye-injecting entrepreneurs. Personally, I wish years ago I had put my money in start-up laser removal companies, but for the 20-40 demographic it is instructive to note that large scale tattoos do influence hiring and savvy job seekers are beginning to head to the removal clinics to get that barbed wire “tat” off their bicep.

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