top of page

Tattoo Discrimination: Does it still happen?

Tattoo discrimination is a prevalent issue that many individuals with tattoos face in various aspects of their lives. Even though society has become more accepting of tattoos in recent years, discrimination based on body art still exists.

This article we explore the current state of tattoo discrimination, focusing on its presence in the workplace and the legal rights of tattooed individuals. By understanding the underlying prejudices, exploring personal stories, and analyzing the psychology of tattoo discrimination, I hope to shed some light on this issue and work towards a more inclusive society.

Key Takeaways

  • Tattoo discrimination persists in society, despite growing acceptance of tattoos.

  • Discrimination against tattoos often occurs in the workplace.

  • Understanding the legal rights of tattooed individuals is crucial in addressing tattoo discrimination.

  • Personal testimonies provide insights into the experiences of those who have faced discrimination based on their tattoos.

  • Examining the psychology behind tattoo prejudice helps combat and challenge societal norms.

The Current Climate of Tattoo Discrimination

In order to address tattoo discrimination, it is important to understand the current climate and the factors contributing to bias against individuals with tattoos. This section I will delve into the societal attitudes towards tattoos, exploring the prejudices as I understand them existing and the stereotypes I see, read and hear about that is associated with tattooed individuals.

By defining tattoo discrimination and examining different aspects, such as visible tattoos and tattoo policies, we can gain a comprehensive understanding of this issue. Additionally, by comparing real life discrimination cases and their outcomes, we can identify patterns and trends in how tattoo discrimination manifests.

Understanding Tattoo Prejudice in Society Today

Tattoo prejudice continues to persist in society despite the increasing acceptance of tattoos. As people come into the shop I hear how individuals from all walks of life with tattoos still face judgments and negative assumptions based on their body art.

Society's perception of tattoos is influenced by various factors, including cultural and generational views, media portrayals, and personal beliefs. These prejudices create barriers for tattooed individuals, often leading to discrimination in different aspects of their lives, such as employment and social interactions.

Navigating Stigma and Stereotypes

Stigma and stereotypes surrounding tattoos contribute to the discrimination experienced by tattooed individuals. Common stereotypes include associating tattoos with criminal behavior, unprofessionalism, or a lack of commitment.

These stereotypes create biased perceptions, making it challenging for individuals with tattoos to be seen beyond their body art. Navigating these stigmas often requires challenging societal norms and educating others about the diverse backgrounds, passions, and achievements of tattooed individuals.

In the image below, do you think society is ready to listen to a doctor in a leather jacket and tattoos? I would suggest that many people wouldn't care as long as they are getting good medical advice, but there are still a good proportion that would look to another doctor.

Stereotypes create biased perceptions-,tattoo discrimination

Stereotypes create biased perceptions, making it challenging for individuals - image:

Defining Tattoo Discrimination and Its Different Aspects

Tattoo discrimination encompasses a range of discriminatory practices and policies that negatively impact individuals with tattoos. Examples of tattoo discrimination I've seen includes restrictions on visible tattoos in certain workplaces, biased hiring decisions based on body art, and unequal treatment of tattooed individuals in social or professional settings.

It is essential to recognize and define these different aspects of tattoo discrimination in order to address and combat the issue effectively.

restrictions on visible tattoos

Tattoo discrimination include restrictions on visible tattoos in certain workplaces - Image: marathonhr

Comparing Tattoo Discrimination Cases and Outcomes

Examining real-life tattoo discrimination cases provides insights into the outcomes and consequences faced by tattooed individuals. By comparing these cases, we can identify common themes and trends, as well as analyze the various factors that influence the resolution of such cases. This analysis can help raise awareness about the prevalence and impact of tattoo discrimination, advocating for fair treatment and equal rights for individuals with tattoos.

With a better understanding of the current climate of tattoo discrimination, including societal prejudices, stereotypes, and the different aspects of discrimination, we can take steps towards creating a more inclusive and accepting society. It is important to challenge these biases and work towards dismantling the barriers faced by tattooed individuals in order to promote equality and respect for all.

Personal Testimonies of Tattoo Discrimination

Personal testimonies that I've heard and read provide powerful insights into the real life experiences of individuals who have been subjected to tattoo discrimination. By sharing these personal stories, we can shed light on the impact of tattoo discrimination and foster empathy and understanding.

"When I got my first tattoo, I never imagined the discrimination I would face. My coworkers started treating me differently and making snide remarks. It was a constant struggle to be taken seriously and be recognized for my skills."

"I experienced tattoo discrimination during a job interview. Despite being highly qualified for the position, the interviewer fixated on my visible tattoos and made derogatory comments. It was disheartening to see my professional worth reduced to my appearance."

"As a tattooed individual, I've encountered discrimination both in social settings and the workplace. People often make assumptions about my character or assume I'm unprofessional based solely on my tattoos. It's frustrating to be judged without any regard for my skills or personality."

These personal testimonies showcase the real challenges and negative experiences that individuals with tattoos frequently face. By amplifying these voices, we can raise awareness and advocate for a society that embraces diversity and rejects discrimination based on body art.

Many people continue to hide their tattoos during the day for fear of being treated differently like the lady below who should be proud to show off that magnificent back piece.

Challenge biases and work towards dismantling the barriers

Challenge biases and work towards dismantling the barriers - Image: bigtattooplanet

Tattoo Discrimination in the Workplace

The workplace is a critical environment where tattoo discrimination frequently occurs. Hiring managers play a significant role in perpetuating bias by enforcing discriminatory policies against tattooed individuals. This section we explore the real world consequences that employees with visible tattoos face, including limited career opportunities and unfair treatment. Additionally, we will analyze the legality of tattoo-related hiring discrimination to determine the rights of tattooed individuals and potential avenues for legal recourse.

The Role of Hiring Managers in Perpetuating Bias

Hiring managers hold the power to shape an organization's culture and policies. Unfortunately, some managers may possess personal biases against individuals with tattoos, leading them to enforce discriminatory practices. These discriminatory policies can hinder the professional growth and advancement of tattooed employees, perpetuating inequality in the workplace.

By examining the role of hiring managers in perpetuating bias, we can raise awareness about the importance of implementing fair and inclusive hiring practices. It is crucial for organizations to prioritize skills, qualifications, and experience over personal biases or judgments based on an individual's appearance.

Real-World Consequences for Employees with Visible Tattoos

Employees with visible tattoos often face real-world consequences in the workplace. Despite their qualifications and abilities, they may encounter limited career opportunities due to tattoo discrimination.

Tattoos are still stigmatized in some professional environments, leading to unfair treatment or exclusion from certain roles or promotions. This discrimination can be demoralizing and have a significant impact on an individual's self esteem, job satisfaction, and overall wellbeing.

It is essential to highlight the potential negative consequences faced by employees with visible tattoos, as it emphasizes the need for a more inclusive and accepting work environment that values diversity and individuality.

Analyzing the Legality of Tattoo-Related Hiring Discrimination

The legality of tattoo-related hiring discrimination varies depending on local laws and regulations. While it is generally legal for employers to have workplace policies that regulate employee appearance, these policies should not disproportionately target individuals with tattoos. Discrimination against tattooed individuals can potentially violate equal employment opportunity laws.

In this section, we will analyze the legal rights of tattooed individuals in the context of hiring discrimination, exploring the scope of protection and examining potential legal avenues for addressing unfair treatment. While I'm no lawyer, I have used the internet to research the legal position of several different countries. Understanding the legal landscape surrounding tattoo discrimination is crucial for both employees and employers in navigating this complex issue.

By shedding light on the role of hiring managers in perpetuating bias, the real world consequences faced by employees with visible tattoos, and the legality of tattoo related hiring discrimination. In this section I aim to create awareness and promote change. It is crucial to foster a work environment that embraces diversity, acknowledges individuality, and values talent and skills above preconceived notions based on appearance.

Tattoo Discrimination Laws and Legal Rights

Individuals who face tattoo discrimination in various settings have legal rights that protect them against unfair treatment. It is essential to understand the laws and regulations surrounding tattoo discrimination, particularly in the context of employment. By having a clear understanding of your legal rights, you can effectively advocate for yourself and challenge any discriminatory practices. As mentioned, I'm not a lawyer and I do suggest you look to obtain legal advise in your own location if you need it.

Employment discrimination based on tattoos is a significant concern for many individuals. In some cases, job applicants may face discrimination during the hiring process due to visible tattoos. It's important to note that this type of discrimination can be both explicit, such as job postings explicitly excluding tattooed applicants, or implicit, with hiring managers holding biased assumptions about tattooed individuals. However, it's crucial to remember that discrimination against tattooed job applicants is illegal in many jurisdictions.

Table: Comparing Tattoo Discrimination Laws in Different Jurisdictions


Tattoo Discrimination Laws

Legal Rights of Tattooed Individuals

United States

Federal law prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, and disability. While tattoos are not explicitly mentioned, visible tattoos may be protected under these categories.

Tattooed job applicants have the right to be treated fairly during the hiring process, regardless of their body art. They can challenge discriminatory practices by filing complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), local human rights commissions, or seeking legal assistance.

United Kingdom

In the UK, the Equality Act 2010 protects individuals against discrimination based on characteristics including sex, race, religion, age, and disability. While tattoos are not explicitly listed, visible tattoos may be covered depending on the circumstances.

Tattooed individuals have legal protection against discrimination in the workplace. They can file complaints with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) or seek legal advice to enforce their rights.


Australia is governed by federal and state laws that address employment discrimination. While tattoos are not specifically mentioned, discrimination against tattooed individuals may be covered depending on the situation and the applicable state or territory legislation.

Tattooed job applicants have legal rights to fair treatment during the hiring process. They can seek assistance from the Australian Human Rights Commission or lodge complaints with relevant state or territory anti-discrimination bodies.

New Zealand

In New Zealand, the Human Rights Act of 1993 prohibits discrimination in employment based on various grounds, including race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, and political opinion. While tattoos are not explicitly mentioned, individuals with visible tattoos may be protected under these categories.

Tattooed job applicants in New Zealand have the right to fair treatment during the hiring process, irrespective of their body art. If they believe they have faced discrimination, they can file complaints with the Human Rights Commission or seek legal advice to address the issue and protect their rights


Canadian employment laws vary by province and territory, but the Canadian Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination in employment based on protected grounds such as race, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, disability, and religion. While tattoos are not specifically mentioned, individuals with visible tattoos may be protected under these categories.

Tattooed job applicants in Canada have the right to equal treatment during the hiring process, regardless of their body art. If they believe they have experienced discrimination, they can file complaints with the Canadian Human Rights Commission or the appropriate provincial or territorial human rights commissions. Seeking legal counsel can also be helpful in protecting their rights and addressing any discriminatory practices.

By being aware of the tattoo discrimination laws and regulations in your jurisdiction, you can assert your legal rights and challenge any discriminatory practices you may encounter. Remember to consult with legal professionals who specialize in employment law to understand the specific protections available to you.

Tattoo Acceptance versus Discrimination

While tattoo discrimination is prevalent, there has also been a significant progression in tattoo acceptance in certain contexts. This section we explore the evolving attitudes towards tattoos in professional environments, highlighting industries where tattoos are more accepted, such as the creative sector. By examining these shifts, we can gain insights into the potential for broader acceptance of tattoos in society.

NZ Police

Constables Dion Nelson-Screen, Tepuhi Rudolph, Amber Dempsey, Angel Pera and Nichola Ellis are among cops who have shown off their tattoos for a new recruitment campaign - Image: NZHearld

The Psychology Behind Tattoo Prejudice

Tattoo discrimination is influenced by various psychological factors. Understanding these factors can help shed light on the reasons behind prejudice against tattoos and guide efforts to combat it. This section explores three key aspects of the psychology of tattoo prejudice, cultural and generational views on tattoos, the influence of media on tattoo perception, and how tattoos can impact career opportunities for individuals.

Cultural and Generational Views on Tattoos

The perception of tattoos varies across different cultures and generations. Some societies embrace tattoos as a form of self-expression and art, while others still consider them taboo. Generational differences also play a role, with younger generations generally being more accepting of tattoos than older generations. By examining these cultural and generational views we can gain insight.

For example, tattoos hold significant importance to many New Zealanders, representing a deep connection to their cultural heritage, personal identity, and sense of belonging.

In New Zealand, tattoos have a rich history rooted in the indigenous Māori culture. Traditional Māori tattoos, known as moko, are intricate and meaningful designs that convey ancestral stories, social status, and spiritual beliefs. These tattoos serve as powerful symbols of cultural pride, resilience, and a way to honor one's heritage.

Additionally, tattoos in New Zealand have become a popular form of self-expression among diverse communities, allowing individuals to showcase their individuality, passions, and life experiences. Through the artistry and storytelling of tattoos, New Zealanders embrace the transformative power of body art, fostering a sense of community, cultural preservation, and personal empowerment.

It's no surprises then that according to the NZ Herald an online news site, the majority of police recruits - up to 95 per cent, have tattoos these days and the police organization has launched a recruitment campaign around skin art in a bid to encourage more people to join the police force.

The Influence of Media on Tattoo Perception

The media plays a significant role in shaping public perception and attitudes towards tattoos. Portrayals of tattoos in movies, TV shows, and other forms of media can reinforce stereotypes or challenge existing biases.

Media depictions can contribute to the normalization of tattoos or perpetuate negative stereotypes associated with body art. Analyzing the influence of media on tattoo perception allows us to better understand how societal attitudes form and provides an opportunity to promote accurate and positive representations of tattoos.

An example of how the media shapes people's perceptions of tattoos is the 2019 movie "The Art of Self-Defense." Through the lenses of martial arts and tattoo culture, this dark comedy addresses topics of masculinity, identity, and human development. Jesse Eisenberg plays the lead character, who goes through a metamorphosis and gets a tattoo as a representation of his newly discovered self-assurance and aggressiveness.

By depicting the characters with tattoos as multifaceted people with nuance and humanity, the movie helps to dispels misconceptions about tattoos. "The Art of Self-Defense" contributes to a more nuanced and positive image of tattoos in popular media, altering public perceptions and fostering a greater acceptance of body art in society by showing tattoos as a form of empowerment and self-expression.

How Tattoos Can Impact Career Opportunities

Tattoos have long been associated with a negative stigma when it comes to certain professions and career opportunities. While acceptance of tattoos in the workplace has been increasing, some industries and workplaces still maintain policies that discriminate against visible tattoos.

This discrimination can limit career prospects and hinder professional advancement for individuals with tattoos. By exploring the impact of tattoos on career opportunities, we can advocate for fair hiring practices and challenge the notion that body art should determine one's capabilities and qualifications.

One case where a person is using tattoos to advance her career is Dr. Sarah Gray. An Australian medical intern training to be an orthopedic surgeon, is challenging stereotypes within the medical profession as she aims to become the "world's most tattooed doctor." She is known for her extensive body art and colorful appearance.

Dr. Gray sees her tattoos as a conversation starter and a way to break down barriers, especially with younger patients. She believes that one's appearance should not affect their competence or confidence in their job. Dr. Gray advocates for individuality and aims to show that one can still work in the medical field while expressing their personal style. She owns a tattoo parlor with her husband and has gained a significant following on Instagram.

Despite facing discrimination in some public places, Dr. Gray has found acceptance within her workplace, where she is treated fairly and judged by her abilities rather than her appearance. She encourages others to embrace their true selves and hopes that education about body art will lead to acceptance and the normalization of tattoos in society.

Dr Gray

Dr. Gray sees her tattoos as a conversation starter and a way to break down barriers - Images: Instagram/rosesarered_23

Overcoming Tattoo Discrimination: Success Stories

Despite the challenges posed by tattoo discrimination, there are individuals who have successfully overcome bias and achieved professional success. These inspiring success stories serve as a testament to the resilience and determination of those who have faced tattoo discrimination but managed to thrive in their careers.

Inspiring success stories

Inspiring success stories serve as a testament to the resilience and determination Image: nypost

"I was initially worried about how my tattoos would be perceived in the workplace. However, instead of letting it hold me back, I decided to embrace my body art and use it as a conversation starter. It allowed me to showcase my creativity and individuality, and eventually, it became a valuable asset in my professional journey." - Mia Thompson, Graphic Designer

Through perseverance and self-confidence, individuals like Mia have challenged societal norms and shattered stereotypes, proving that tattoo discrimination does not define one's abilities or potential. Their stories serve as a source of inspiration, hope, and guidance for those who may be experiencing similar challenges.

By sharing these success stories, we aim to empower individuals to embrace their tattoos and promote a workplace culture that values diversity and inclusivity. Together, we can break down the barriers of tattoo discrimination and create opportunities for all.

The Final Thought

In conclusion, tattoo discrimination remains a pervasive issue in today's society, with a particular focus on the workplace. However, there are effective strategies to combat and overcome this discrimination, ultimately fostering a more inclusive environment. By gaining a comprehensive understanding of the current climate surrounding tattoo discrimination, as well as the legal rights and psychology underlying prejudice, we can actively challenge and change societal norms.

Personal testimonies and success stories play a crucial role in inspiring and supporting individuals who have experienced tattoo discrimination firsthand. By sharing these stories, we can amplify their voices and raise awareness about the impact of discrimination based on body art. It is through education, empathy, and open dialogue that we can work towards creating a society that values diversity and rejects discrimination.

While the journey to acceptance and overcoming discrimination may be challenging, it is possible. By embracing tattoo acceptance and celebrating individuality, we can create workplaces and communities where tattooed individuals are valued for their talents and skills rather than judged based on their appearance. Together, we can pave the way for a more inclusive future.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q. Does tattoo discrimination still exist?

  • Yes, tattoo discrimination is still prevalent in society, particularly in the workplace.

Q. What is tattoo discrimination?

  • Tattoo discrimination refers to the unequal treatment or bias against individuals with tattoos, often leading to limited career opportunities and unfair treatment.

Q. What are the legal rights of tattooed individuals?

  • Tattooed individuals have legal rights that protect them against workplace discrimination based on their tattoos. These rights vary depending on the jurisdiction and specific circumstances.

Q. How can I overcome tattoo discrimination?

  • Overcoming tattoo discrimination requires raising awareness, advocating for change, and promoting inclusivity in workplaces and society as a whole.

Q. What are common stereotypes associated with tattooed individuals?

  • Some common stereotypes associated with tattooed individuals include being rebellious, unprofessional, or having a criminal background. However, these stereotypes are often unfounded and unfair.

Q. Are there any specific laws against tattoo discrimination?

  • While laws regarding tattoo discrimination vary by jurisdiction, many countries have legal protections in place to prevent workplace discrimination based on tattoos.

Q. How do hiring managers contribute to tattoo discrimination?

  • Hiring managers can perpetuate tattoo discrimination by enforcing policies against visible tattoos, leading to biased hiring practices and limited career opportunities for tattooed individuals.

Q. What are the real-world consequences of having visible tattoos in the workplace?

  • Employees with visible tattoos may face discrimination in the form of limited job prospects, lower career advancement opportunities, and unfair treatment in the workplace.

Q. Can jobs discriminate against tattoos

  • The legality of tattoo-related hiring discrimination varies by jurisdiction. In some cases, employers may be within their rights to establish dress code policies that prohibit visible tattoos. However, certain situations may constitute grounds for legal action.

Q. How can cultural attitudes and media influence tattoo perception and discrimination?

  • Cultural attitudes and media portrayals of tattoos can shape public perception, leading to biases and discrimination against tattooed individuals. Prejudice can be influenced by generational views, societal norms, and media stereotypes.

Q. Can nurses have visible tattoos

  • While tattoos are generally permitted in the medical profession, there are certain exceptions. One illustration of this is that the majority of medical facilities strictly prohibit visible nurse tattoos that depict objectionable imagery.

Q. Can teachers have visible tattoos

  • Teachers are generally allowed to have tattoos in many places, as long as the tattoos are not considered objectionable or inappropriate given the teaching environment.

Q. Is tattoos in the workplace discrimination real?

  • Yes, tattoo discrimination is still prevalent in society, particularly in the workplace.



bottom of page