Thursday, September 15, 2011

Tattoo Tirade

I know, I know another tattoo post. I JUST posted one a few weeks ago, but a little discussion with a professor today has me slightly irritated, and I just need to vent about it for a moment.

So today in my Retail Management & Teamwork class (aka, pointless 1 credit class that is mandatory to my major), we were talking about paradigms and perspective. We were assigned some reading in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,  and were asked to talk about a time when we underwent a personal paradigm shift. (See here if you're already lost). Basically, talk about a time when your assumptions and perspective got in the way of judgement-free thought. My shift, for example, was the inevitable paradigm shift of pre-baby to post-baby. Saying things like "when I have kids they will never...blah blah", and then realizing once you have kids that there is no "never".

As the class members took turns, the professor interrupted to explain her mini-paradigm shift which involved believing that people with disabilities were inherently evil. Let me explain that she thought this way as a very young child, because the only person in the neighborhood that her family wasn't close to happened to be an amputee. Her family never talked about it, so she made childish assumptions, which she now realizes are ridiculous. Then the final classmate shares her paradigm shift, which had something to do with growing up thinking that all people with tattoos were criminals or bad people. I chuckled, because that's funny. My friend piped in with "Oh Nicole, you better keep that sweatshirt on." Her statement kind of forced me into the spotlight and I felt like I had to explain given that the professor was looking at me like was crazy.

I can't remember my exact wording, but I said something to the effect that while this particular classmates perception may have changed, many people still treat people with tattoos as if they were criminals. Well this sent my professor on a tirade about tattoos, and how people who get them are craving attention, and that tattoos are a form of acting out that is the most dangerous because unlike dying your hair or dressing "weird" tattoos are permanent. I just nodded, and let her say her piece. She continued on to say that she realizes that people with tattoos can be intelligent, productive members of society, but since her generation typically is "anti" tattoo, and they are the generation that will be "doing the hiring", she doesn't understand why people would get tattoos thereby rendering themselves "unemployable". Again, I didn't say much. She went even further to tell a story about a student she had, a few semesters ago, who was covered in tattoos, and seemed to be pretty "dumb" (her words). However, upon reading the student's papers, she realized that the girl was actually extremely bright, but a little shy. Once she opened up the professor was floored by how brilliant she actually was. She's not surprised, however, to see that this girl is still working at the college, because she "probably can't get a job anywhere else".

The amount of absurdity in her entire argument made me laugh (internally). I didn't argue with her, because I know better than to argue with someone that is set in their ways, and who will be giving me a grade. But if I had been able to discuss it further, without my grade being affected, I would have posed the following questions to her.

  1. Why, in a class about being judgement-free in our interactions with other people, is it OK to judge people based on a lifestyle choice? It's wrong to judge someone based on them being disabled, or their skin color, but it's o to judge someone for intentionally having multi-colored skin?
  2. How does she know that this young lady didn't aspire to be working at a college? Who are you to judge the quality of her life, her decision of employment, or to assume that it was all dependent upon her tattoos?
  3. Do you think I'm unemployable? I can easily put on a long sleeve shirt, and fit the mold of what the older generation feels is "professional". I am more than capable of performing well in whatever career path I chose. Do my tattoos render me useless? Can I collect disability for that? (a joke, a joke)
  4. Are you forgetting that my generation will be the one to take care of your generation at some point? Don't you think it would be wise to treat us well? (Not a threat, but a serious consideration since the class is about 'reaping what you sow" and how to effectively improve relationships)
I was astounded. I mean, clearly I realize that I will be judged for being tattooed. I realize that some people may be offended, and will expect me to cover them up for work. I was smart enough to get tattoos that are easily covered up for such occasions. I just expected a professor, especially teaching this class, to be a little bit more open-minded.

I kind of wish nothing had been said about me, so that once the semester was over I could finally reveal my "rebellious" ways, and prove to her that my skin has no breaking whatsoever on my ability to learn, connect with people, interact with people, and be an effective and productive member of society, provided that people to prejudge me based solely on my skin ornamentation. 

photo courtsey of stock.xchng


  1. Oh geez. I would have ripped my sweater off at made her look at me while she was going on and on about her opinions.

    She may have her viewpoints but people with tattoos are just as employable as people without. Case in point: Me. HAH. It's more about that persons wants and goals. There are plenty people who are not tattooed who are sitting at home doing nothing with their lives.

    While tattooed people may not be able to get some "normal" jobs, heavily tattooed people are usually more out of the box than that and take other jobs. What a twit your Professor is.

  2. We'll see how the rest of the semester goes. All of her reviews say that she grades based purely on whether she likes you or not. I'll be really upset if my tattoos affect my GPA, and I WILL go to the dean if I need to.