Tattoo trend causes career concerns
Published: Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 22:01
A dragon tattoo wound around his left arm, Michael Sanchez, an FGCU senior, is pursuing a degree in marketing/management, while Kayla Blackmon, a freshman with an anchor and spiritual quote tattooed on her foot, aspires to be a teacher. Students from every walk of life, whether they want to work in the corporate world or in a classroom, are getting tattoos and displaying them with pride. The old stereotype of juvenile delinquents being the only ones to sport tattoos is fading, but questions still remain about this unique and very permanent form of body art.
Dr. Kevin Collins, the Director of Health Services at FGCU, says that statistics show one third of 18-25-year-olds have tattoos. Students want them for many reasons, but Blackmon and her friend Sydney Brewer, a freshman majoring in marine science, both want tattoos for the same reason.
“Tattoos say a lot about who I am,” Brewer said. “Times have changed. It used to be the ‘bad kids’ who got them, now it is a form of expression, not rebellion.”
All three students agree that tattoos should have some kind of meaning behind them. Blackmon’s tattoo reminds her of her faith, and Brewer, who loves the Beatles, wants to get quotes from some of her favorite songs. While this form of self-expression can be fun, it could also hinder students from finding a job, since some businesses have tattoo policies. The U.S. Postal Service, Geico Insurance and Denny’s are among those with guidelines. Other businesses have unofficial policies that students may not be aware of until the day of the job interview. While the risk of being turned away from a potential job is very plausible, Blackmon and Brewer are not overly concerned.
“I’ve thought about it, so that’s why my tattoo is in a place that I can cover,” Blackmon said.
On the other hand, Sanchez believes that having a tattoo should not affect a student’s ability to get a job. “If an employer sees my tattoos as a negative thing, I wouldn’t want to work for them anyway,” he said.
Besides the possible social ramifications of having tattoos, medical problems can also arise from going under the needle. Dr. Kevin Collins sees students who suffer from minor pain and skin irritation, but serious infections are rare. “It is not uncommon for students to come in with a local infection,” Collins said. He has seen no extreme complications or disasters, though. If pain or irritation occurs two to six weeks after getting a tattoo, it could be a sign of a major infection. Students should look for reputable studios that use sterile needles to avoid contracting a systematic infection.
“Students should realize that only since January of 2012 have tattoo artists/studios in Florida been required to be licensed,” Collins said.
While serious infections are possible, it is difficult to have statistics on the complication rate of tattoos. Nevertheless, students need to think long and hard before getting a tattoo, since tattoo removal can be very painful.
The regret of getting an impulsive tattoo can also be painful. Blackmon finds tattoos “addicting” and wants to get many more. However, tattoo addiction is not a serious problem.
“People can be obsessive/compulsive about many things. That could include tattoos or body art,” said Dr. Jon Brunner, the Director of Counseling and Health Services. “But you have to be careful about ‘pathologizing’ behavior, although that could be the case.”
Getting too many tattoos has not been connected to any kind of mental issues, according to Brunner.
“We have not had a student in CAPS where we felt this behavior was part of presenting psychological issue,” Brunner said. Even though there are no mental problems linked to a strong desire for or excess of tattoos, Brunner says students should still think carefully about getting one.
“Some creative/artistic people want to be unique, and tattooing is part of making a statement for various reasons. I see that students use tattoos to commemorate a lost loved one as well, but the bottom line is students need to be careful and think through what tattoos mean to them.”