Certain things define us. People care for appearances and judge on first impressions

 

Making the decision of getting a tattoo has to be a difficult one. It is something you are going to have forever, it changes your image and also the way you are seen by society. With this in mind, there are two approaches. There are those which do not care about these kinds of ‘aesthetic trends’ (imposed by some superior entity) and do whatever they wish without being bothered by what someone else might think. And then there are those who being aware of the possible consequences of getting a tattoo, are a bit afraid of the needle and do their best not to make the tattooing something they might regret afterwards. In this latter case, we usually find those who prefer small designs on certain parts of the body where they can be easily concealed. But wait, from whom exactly are they being hidden?

The other day a friend of mine got a tattoo. A few days before, he had been constantly asking friends and family for advice about the design and its location: he eventually decided to have it on his back. Knowing this, I phoned him saying it was a wise decision since it would not be visible to everyone and most importantly, it could be easily out of sight whenever he wanted. My piece of advice here was mainly based on the fact that having a tattoo while living in Spain might cause you some trouble when it comes to looking for a job. However, I kept thinking about my advice for a while.

It seems undeniable that appearances may have a real influence on your chances of getting a job, but what I do not understand is how something as superficial as a tattoo, can sometimes lead to a person being rejected and stigmatized. I do not know what the status concerning tattoos is in the United Kingdom, but the extent to which being ‘inked’ in Spain may be an obstacle to entering the labour market is worrying. I do not understand, I repeat, why something so superficial in nature has taken on such a profound social significance.

As far as I know, having a tattoo does not prevent a teacher from teaching maths nor does it impede the entrepreneur from running a business. The problem then is a historical one. Tattoos were traditionally related to certain lower classes and groups, and this is where their negative connotation comes from. But this is certainly not the case today. Many people from different backgrounds have tattoos nowadays, and to question their capabilities or worthiness on the basis of a scribble on the skin just does not make sense.

If the priority of selecting ink-free individuals ensured that they were the right people for the job, that would at least make it understandable and sensible. But that sort of conclusion cannot be drawn. To illustrate this point, it is worth mentioning how the Spanish population was deprived of their rights by certain politicians who stole their money right in front of their faces. They were all dressed in suits, as politicians usually are, looking smart but filling their pockets with the public’s money.  Appearances, then, cannot always be trusted.

A person who decides to have a tattoo, mainly does this because of a need to express their feelings in some way. I do not myself have any tattoos but it seems reasonable that if someone decides to express their feelings explicitly on their body, then it is to some extent fair if society chooses not to approve of such open displays. However, if we keep holding on to such superficial parameters as body ink to decide character or what’s right and wrong, then there is a risk of taking the merely superficial as definitive while ignoring the complex whole.