Once upon a time, getting a tattoo or piercing was new and unique and gave the wearer a stamp of originality or individualism; but those days have long past. In recent years the growing fad of getting inked has grown drastically with people wishing to stand out from the crowd by trying newer, more drastic designs. With people from as young as six getting their ears pierced and as young as fourteen getting tattoos (albeit, illegally), you are probably more so one of the elite if you have a body free of the various new types of body art, and, alas, will be more respected if you fit the latter category.

As you walk down the street, you will notice that body art and self-improvement is everywhere – and in many forms, too. The UK is a society obsessed with appearance and looking good, and should people really be penalised for wanting to improve the way they look? Such body art and improvements can be in the form of normal tattoos, tattooed make-up, implants, piercings, hair dye and plastic surgery – with many more available options. New ways of looking good or standing out are frequently being brought onto the market and being tested by thousands of people, wanting to look the best and be the first to try out the new craze.

Tattoos are on both sexes and on people of various ages, and they are all different. The growing trade has led the world to become ink crazy – sleeve tattoos and quote tattoos among the most popular. These days, when you walk into a tattoo shop, you are bombarded by a thousand posters and screens with different images and designs on them – too many to choose from, in my humble opinion! You could spend hours, if not even a few separate visits, deciding which design you want and, more importantly, where you want to get it. Do you get it somewhere visible? Do you play it safe and keep it hidden? Do you want it big and noticeable or small and understated?

These are only few of the many questions you have to consider when getting a tattoo, but unlike the opinion of many, being inked does not make you any less of a person, so why is this affecting job prospects? A small tattoo on a wrist or neck won’t stop a person from doing their job properly, nor will it truly distract others, so is this just an excuse from employers to go in another direction?

The same goes for piercings, too, when you think about it. They began with earlobes, expanded to navels and facials, and now people are going to extremes with genitals and even implants (a piercing embedded into the skin). It’s incredible to witness the levels people go to in modern-day societies in order to make themselves stand out from the rest, but even facial piercings are a turn-off for employers. This comes despite reassurances of equal treatment which claim employment companies will stay well clear of any type of biased or unfair attitudes towards current or possible employees. Surely, covering up or removing a piercing for work should be sufficient – why only employ those without?

Admittedly, yes, there are those who can go too far, as has been presented by various TV programmes aired in the past couple of years, especially those such as My Tattoo Addiction and Tattoo Nightmares. But is it fair to discriminate against everyone who ever got a tattoo by highlighting the mistakes and drastic decisions made by a mere few? Yes, these programmes may be fun to watch, but they are certainly not an accurate representation of people with tattoos – bearing in mind that the majority will draw the line at one or two designs. The same goes for those opting for self-improvement in the form of plastic surgery – shows such as Botched up Bodies aim to persuade people that getting a boob job or a tummy tuck is the wrong thing to do, because something may, somewhere along the lines, go wrong. But isn’t this the same for many things in life? It should be the individual’s decision how they want to look, and how they aim to achieve that.

The modern world talks non-stop about equality for different races, for gays, and so on. And so, one would think that someone walking down the street with a few tattoos and piercings, or a large bust, could go without the scrutiny of judgement from passers-by; but this is not the case – hence the justification for TV shows about these issues. People even criticise celebrities such as Rihanna for her tattoo choices; but in the reality of it, it’s none of their business, just like it isn’t when any other normal person embraces the courage to look how they want. Even schools are discouraging students from getting piercings and dying their hair – is this really going to deter education? Unlikely. But will sending a student home for coming to school with a piercing do that? Almost definitely.

People should be able to look how they want when they want, and others should accept them for their choices. Nobody should have to live afraid of dressing and appearing how they wish.