Tatted Up

An Examination of Tattoo Culture in the Modern World

Maggie Morris, Staff Reporter

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In this day and age, the younger generation is generally thought to be more accepting of various lifestyles and choices. This open-minded attitude extends to tattoos. Now more than ever, the world, and especially the workforce, is learning to be more accepting of tattoos and piercings in the work environment.

Walking swiftly and confidently, English teacher Heidie Dunn moves back and forth in the preparation of the first ever TedX hosted at East Campus. Working hard to set the stage, Dunn sports comfortable clothing that allows free range of motion. With that, her right arm tattoo is visible at any angle.

When questioning her about the tattoo, she lightly chuckled and asked her friend and coworker, East social science instructor, Keleigh Foreman, if she can remember when she got her tattoo. After some brief discussion, they both agree and remember that Dunn has had the tattoo for three shorts years.

This medium-sized semicolon turned into a heart-based design is in remembrance of her sister who passed away many years ago. When asked if she had any stories about people being skeptical of her tattoo, Dunn was quick to give share anecdotes of her own. After just having the tattoo completed, Dunn recalls people being surprised and disapproving of her tattoo in some instances.

One friend asked her why she would subject herself to such “mutilation”. Dunn has at times puzzled over why friends would disapprove of her remembrance tattoo for her sister. From then on, Dunn has been cautious about showing her tattoo when meeting people with more power than her.

When Dunn was applying to put on her son’s school board, she wore a long sleeve shirt. She prides herself on accepting everyone who enters her life and their decisions. Dunn is completely ok showing her tattoo now and she is completely ok with anyone having tattoos and piercings. Dunn states she does not regret her tattoo.

A 20-minute drive west down route 120 from McHenry leads one to the historic Woodstock Square. In the northwest corner of the square, there is the Woodstock Classic Cinemas Movie Theater. Located inside is a well-organized machine of employees run by an agreeable, popular manager.

During her afternoon shift, Jessica Wevik is swinging her keys around her wrist with on a lanyard. Wevik quickly answers my questions while both of us are behind the counter serving the customers.

Explaining that every employee must cover their tattoos due to Tivoli Corporation policies, Wevik admits that she personally is generally accepting of body alterations, but cautious when face tattoos and multiple face piercings are involved.

Further, Wevik acknowledges that more businesses are becoming accepting of a more diverse expression of self. At Classic Cinema Movie Theaters, the attitude is traditional. Even with the world moving forward, employees are still forced to cover tattoos, have natural hair colors, and many more guidelines. Luckily in the past six years, no one has been fired or released from breaking the dress code in the Woodstock location.  Finding a job that is accepting of all body alterations can be hard to find, but with the culture changing, there is increasing pressure on businesses to relax rules and regulations.

To get the perspective of a young adult with many tattoos and piercings, I traveled back to McHenry to talk to a fellow classmate, East Campus senior, Lexi Marsh.

Only being 18 years old, Marsh has already collected four tattoos and one piercing. Finding time to interview with her in the schools preschool lab classroom, Marsh was a receptive respondent to my questions.

I asked her about the meaning behind her tattoos. Each one came with a great story or meaning to her. Her favorite would be her most recent tattoo in Korean which translates to love yourself.

With Marsh soon heading off into the world, she wasn’t worried about hiding her tattoos. She did state that after getting the Korean tattoo she noticed judgment based on her appearance more acutely than previously.

Marsh says the older generation judges the most. Marsh has learned fast that any job involving families tend to have strict expectations about covering tattoos. Her previous job at Old Navy required her to cover all tattoos while working. At her current job, The Crystal Lake Ice House, she can freely show her tattoos.

With all the aforementioned, Marsh would never go back and get rid of her tattoos. They are a part of her life and she is prepared to find a job that will accept her and her tattoos.

Throughout culture and time, tattoos have been there as a reminder of creative freedom and as an expression of oneself. With society starting to accept these tattoos and piercings in fits and starts, people as a whole are feeling more comfortable with showing their true selves.