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Despite The Popularity Of Tattoos, People Still Judge Those With Body Ink

tattoos
People with tattoos still face a large amount of stigma. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Getting a tattoo is a common way for people to express their individuality. But body ink may possibly be too efficient at making you stand out from the crowd, and a new study reveals that tattooed individuals still feel stigmatized for their choice of body art.

Tattoos are no longer exclusively adorned by long-haired "bad boys" whose preferred method of transportation is a motorcycle. They are worn by the young, the old, mothers, grandmothers — you may even find a few priests sporting one last sign of their younger years. A poll by Pew Research Center found that nearly 40 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 29 have tattoos. Even though tattoos have drastically increased in popularity, those with tattoos still feel stigmatized by the untattooed population. A study published in The Social Science Journal took a closer look at tattoo prejudice and found some pretty interesting concepts.

The more tattoos an individual had, the more they felt stigmatized. The more stigma that an individual felt was geared toward their tattoos, the more likely they were to conceal them and eventually remove them completely. "I can see people, like older people, they'll see us with our daughter, and they give that disgusted look, like I'm a bad person or a bad parent because I have tattoos,” C.J Long, a self-proclaimed "tattoo enthusiast" told WQOW.

A team of researchers questioned 196 tattooed and 257 non-tattooed college students. They found that having a tattoo, having tattooed friends, and having a tattooed family member was correlated with fewer stigmas against tattooed people. Reasons, such as the belief that tattoos involve major health risks and cause large amounts of pain, were most frequently referred to the reason stigmas were formed. “I've gotten in so many arguments with people over tattoos, 'Why would you get that many?' or 'Why would you get them on your face?' I'm like, 'Why do you wear jewelry? Why do you buy rings?' 'Well, you can take those off.' I'm like, 'So? I don't want to take mine off,'" Long explained to WQOW.

Tattoos can make the already difficult activity of job seeking even more difficult. "Tattoos literally change your career,” Deanna Mullennax, who is now working at a bakery in Chicago, told NPR. "They call them 'job stoppers' for a reason." A separate study also published in The Social Science Journal found that when people get a tattoo without a personal meaning, they are more likely to regret it later. Recently, many lawsuits have been centered around workplaces’ strict policies against the body art. According to guidance from the Society for Human Resource Management, employers must provde “a reasonable accommodation for religious practices” when it comes to policies against tattoos and body piercings. Other than that however, it is completely up to the employer whether or not they want to prohibit their employees from sporting tattoos and other forms of body modification, NPR reported.

Source: Dickson L, Dukes R, Smith H, Strapko N. Stigma of ink: Tattoo attitudes among college students. The Social Science Journal. 2014.

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