Ink Your Resume, Not Your Body: More People Lose Tattoos

tattooMartin Jones didn't think ahead when he was 18 and inked a panther on the side of his face. He thought it was cool. Now Jones is 25, and the tattoo cost him his job at Fry's Food Store in Arizona.

"It's been really hard," he says. "I was working nights doing stock, before people even start coming to the store. They let me go."

Jones realized his tattoo was going to hold him back. He had worked in roofing and at Walmart in the past. He's always been trying to get beyond his troubled youth in Chicago, where he grew up in group homes and never knew his heroin-addicted father. This last layoff was the wake-up call. Now, with a two-year-old and a wife, he's still optimistic that everything will work out.

He started the process of tattoo removal with Dr. Phil Knall in Phoenix, AZ.

Easy on, harder off

Dr. Phill Knall, a former dentist, has dedicated his work to tattoo removal for the past two years. He can't keep up with demand and will likely franchise his business as a result.

"The number one reason people come here is names," Knall said. "They're not with 'Susie' anymore. The new girlfriend is dragging them in here. Close second is hands and wrists. That is due to career. They realized that maybe an employer had three to four finalists previously and now they have 40 -- and they don't like ink."

Knall's laser procedure breaks up the ink under the skin into tiny particles, which are then eliminated by the body. The colors determine how easily the ink comes off. Blacks and reds are easiest, but some red inks, when removed, can cause an allergic, itchy reaction. Treatments are four to six weeks apart. The process takes an average of seven to 10 visits and costs less than $150 per visit.

Knall, who does not have any tattoos, says it feels like a rubber band snapping the skin. Most people say tattoos are more painful to get off than get on in the first place. But people are still getting inked. In 2006, the Journal of the Academy of Dermatology reported that almost one in four Americans between the ages of 18 and 50 had tattoos -- up from 15 percent in 2000.

-- See the average salary for a tattoo artist, body piercer, and tattoo shop manager.

Ink in the military

Many companies have specific policies regarding tattoos, perhaps none so specific as the U.S. military. The Army has a 693-word policy just on tattoos. The only bodily locations addressed and prohibited are on the head, neck, and face above the collar. The focus is on content, where negative messages are prohibited anywhere on the body:

"Tattoos or brands that are extremist, indecent, sexist, or racist are prohibited, regardless of location on the body" (Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia -- AR 670-1)

Air Force Instruction 36-2903, Dress and Personal Appearance, states, "Excessive tattoos and brands will not be exposed or visible while in uniform." Excessive is defined as any tattoo/brands exceeding one-quarter of the exposed body part and those above the collarbone when wearing an open collar uniform.

Even with tattoos allowed, perception of tattoos still has impact. Joseph Gordoa has been in the Army Reserves for seven years. He has been through Korea, Japan, Germany, Ireland, Kuwait and one tour in Iraq. His forearm tattoo commemorates his hometown, but he wants it gone. "Nobody has complained about it," he says, "I just don't want it anymore, I'm just getting older. I feel less professional with it. And the more rank I put on, the more professional i want to be."

No consistency in corporate America

If you think it's a First-Amendment right to boast a tattoo, the law has often sided with corporations that don't approve of them. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), employers are allowed to impose dress codes and appearance policies as long as they do not discriminate or hinder a person's race, color, religion, age, national origin, or gender.

In corporate America, Walmart and Ford allow "non-offensive" tattoos. Vans, the "counter-culture" sneaker and lifestyle brand, enacted a "no visible tattoo" policy in 2009.

Tattoos at work ... and at home

Martin Jones should have his tattoo off his face by July. He's hoping to get back into roofing or welding because he likes to work with his hands.

Jones is thinking of his family and their future. "You start thinking of school meetings with your son. You want to go back to the real you," he says. "It hurts worse getting it off. It was cheaper to get it on. I'm paying for it now. I learned from it."

Next: The Wrong Watch and Other Random Reasons You're Not Getting a Job >>

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I have 10 tattoos, and I love them. I plan on getting inked more as I move through life and I can't wait to be an old man covered in wrinkled, faded tatts. Not because I think they'll look good or because I like the social stigmas attached to them, but because every bit of ink I have represents a choice I have made; some good, some bad but they were all MY choices. So much in life is decided by fate that some people feel the need to take control of their body, myself included. As for the professional world, I would not be deterred by say, a lawyer with a spider tattooed on his skull or a nurse with a tramp stamp. A tattoo shows nothing of one's personal abilities yet we have all seem to judge every book by the cover. Those of us with tattoos are not all scoundrels roaming the night in search of the next victim. As for the "legal" right employers have to discriminate based on ink: I wonder if anyone has tried to argue in court that the prejudice IS based on skin color, which is technically illegal.

August 19 2011 at 12:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
zack wang

A specilized manufactory of tattoo products,including:tattoo machine,tattoo gun,grip&tip,ink,tattoo t-shirt and OEM are availalbe.this month our factory designed some new style of product,we need the professional suggestion,pls contact me without hesitation.

November 23 2010 at 12:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

sticks and stones . cant anyone have a civilized posting ,( discussion ) anymore ? relax !!!!!!!

May 03 2010 at 4:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have 3 tattoos. None of them can be seen unless I want them to be seen . I feel that there is no room in society for these closed minded people like Raymond. People need to come out of the box and embrace diversity. You make your choices and I make mine. That's life . Also, my husband is a Tattoo artist. He is a very gifted artist, and takes great pride in what he does. Not to mention he makes a very good living for his family. So , Raymond, I feel sorry for you because you are missing out on good people, by judging them before you know them .

April 30 2010 at 2:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I.m glad I never got a tattoo. I had been tempted to get one many times over. Then I decided it was not worth it. Risks out weighs the benefits. One friend of mine contracted Aids from getting a tattoo. So he claims. Another said he contracted hepetitus from unclean tattoo needles. Another said she had contracted an infection from unsterilized tattoo needles when she was in the Phillipines with a classmate of hers. They were drunk and at the spur of the moment got a tattoo. She almost lost her life from that infection. Seeing what had happened to friends of mine I decided it was not worth the risk.

April 30 2010 at 11:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Having a tattoo openly visible on your body shows you don't respect your body and other's opinions. That's not conducive to corporate America. Use your brains people!

April 30 2010 at 9:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am 66 and I can remember when tattoes were mostly confined to veterans (usually US Navy, Army etc. logos),a matter of unit pride, and usually alcohol. Tattoes on women were unheard of.

None of these people have ever said anything like "gee I'm glad I got drunk that night in Saigon, Honolulu, or London, and got this swell tattoo!" Mostly they act embarassed.

If I were a young man today I would seriously consider Medical
school, and then dermatology under the best tattoo removal guy I could fine.

April 29 2010 at 10:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Recently saw a 70-ish woman with a huge tattoo on her chest. Her low-cut top showed it proudly. Only problem, it was GROTESQUE because of her loosely hanging, floppy skin and overabundance of wrinkles. Have any of you with tats ever stopped to think about how you're going to look when you get old?

April 29 2010 at 8:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Nancy's comment

Maybe you are the type of person that cares too much about looks. Im pretty sure that woman was happy when she got her tatoo, and still is, no matter how lose her skin is. You see, when you really want something, you wont ever regret it. We're all going to die, and we will all be dust, thats how we are really going lo "look" in the future. So in my case and my opinion, there is no space in my mind for regretting things. I have a tatoo, the face of an owl on my shoulder, and its going to stay there until I die. No matter how old I look, its a decision I made at some point in my life. People who regret stuff in life, not just tatoos, but regretting anything at all just shows a person who is unsure of him/her self and worries much more of wqhat other people will think, than what what they want for themselves. Im pretty sure the tat looked GROTESQUE to you, but did you take the time to ask that old woman if she liked her tatoo? What it meant? Or why she did it?

September 09 2013 at 12:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Personally, I cannot stand tattoos. I find them very unattractive and absolutely will not date a woman who has one. If I see a tattoo on a woman it is an instant turn off for me. That said, I do believe that people should not be discriminated against if they have tattoos in the workplace. Like anything, tatoos are a personal choice and I know many great people who have them. I just do not like the look, especially on women, and I find clear skin beautiful.

April 29 2010 at 10:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

because you choose to make a personal statement with your body art,thats your right. Why do you think its biggoted for me to make a statement with my employees appearance.If i choose to hire an employee that does not make a statement with his or her tats that is my right. ( And good business !)

April 29 2010 at 9:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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