Nading: Judgment based on tattoos, piercings an example of social tyranny


Opinion: Nading 11/27

Mackenzie Nading

Discrimination is a challenging thing to understand, accept and overcome.

It has been an ongoing struggle in this country since the original colonies formed. Diversity is everywhere and growing all the time. This means there are new norms to be found, new traditions to accept, and the opening of minds and new perspectives to be formed by all who wish to overcome this problem. But the fact remains discrimination is still a problem.

There are steps taken each day in work, educational and professional environments to overcome differences among our population. When we are taught how to avoid discrimination the focus is primarily placed upon skin color, religious beliefs and lifestyle choices.

These three categories are very broad and cover an abundance of situations in which discrimination may arise. But the training and education received about these differences tends to leave out a certain category, if you will, of people who share different skin colors, possibly religious beliefs and certainly lifestyle choices. This category being referred to are those individuals who choose to tattoo and pierce their bodies, and they, like any racial or religious group, don’t deserve to be discriminated against because of how they look and choose to express themselves.

Why is it, then, one of the golden rules of interview success is to cover up any tattoo you may have in any way that you can? Or take out any piercings that go beyond the ear? What happened to all the discrimination training that employee across the table from you was sure to have gone through? All the training to reverse discrimination and stereotyping shouldn’t automatically go out the window just because a piece of tattoo might slip out from under a cuff or collar of a shirt.

The act of adorning your body in permanent ink has been known to be in existence since 3300 B.C., making it one of the oldest ancient traditions to still be in existence and in good popularity today. Tattoos have become less taboo and more acceptable as the 21st century has progressed. However, stereotypes about those who embellish their bodies in ink still remain.

They’re into drugs; they aren’t professional; they aren’t motivated about their future; they don’t take life seriously. All are common phrases that might be thrown towards an inked individual.

These stereotypes have led society to encourage only engaging in the art of getting a tattoo if it can be easily covered up. It is important to understand that by putting a message, picture or symbol on our bodies for anyone to see is making a once private thing, protected by certain rights, now open to public perception, backlash and judgment. This is a risk taken by all who choose to ink their bodies.

The private realm is a household in which the ruler is by definition tyrannical, what they say goes. The public realm, in contrast, is the political realm. It requires the contributions of multiple people and the cooperation of many different actors. The social realm is, then, a mix of the two. No one person rules it, since it just “is.” Unlike the private realm, there is no figure of authority, and unlike the public realm, no one can exercise power over it. In the social realm, there is no unique identity among individuals since society rests on conformity.

Therefore, what is taken from a private realm, such as personal art in the form of tattoos, and placed in the public realm, on an arm or leg for all to see, is subject to the judgmental eye of the social realm and will be judged based on how well it conforms compared the rest of the acting participants in that social realm.

But the decision made by those individuals shouldn’t automatically subject them to the hurtful stereotypes that are so well linked to those seen with visible tattoos.

We are constantly encouraged to give the benefit of the doubt to strangers we pass on the street, meet in class or interact with at work, and to always assume the best in others until they give you a reason to think otherwise. It’s important to keep the same open mind, even when those strangers have metal in their skin or ink on their arms. Just because they choose to express themselves in a different way doesn’t mean they should be treated differently.