Judge My Character, Not My Tattoos!

My sons’ names tattooed on my wrists.

    Today I had an interesting conversation on social media about the correlation between tattoos and piercings and a lack of professionalism in the workplace, specifically in the education field.  Let me begin by saying that I have both tattoos and piercings and have been an educator for the past thirteen years.  Of those years, I have always been regarded as an exemplary teacher by my supervisors as well as my colleagues.  The way that I choose to express myself has never been an issue nor has it impeded me from being a true professional.

    Frankly, I take offense to statements that suggest that people with tattoos or piercings are inappropriate or unprofessional.  My excellence as a teacher should not depend on how I look or what I’m wearing.  As a matter of fact, some of the least qualified or unprepared educators that I have encountered throughout my career had neither tattoos or piercings so what does that say?  The way that I choose to express myself or my individuality does not give others the right to judge me or to make assumptions about how qualified I am to educate children.

    People get tattoos and piercings for different reasons.  Some get piercings due to their religious beliefs or cultural traditions.  Others get tattoos also for cultural reasons or in memoriam of their lost loved ones.  I personally got my wrist tattoos of my sons’ names to give me strength through a Cancer diagnosis.  The point is that nobody has the right to draw conclusions about who we all are as people due to these exterior adornments.  They do not define us as people.

    Obviously I feel passionate about this topic because I have both tattoos and piercings but this issue is much bigger than how I feel.  It is about the misconceptions that contribute to stereotypes or that give others fuel to discriminate against others because of the way that they look.  Where will we draw the line?  Is it okay to judge a person because of their tattoos but not okay to judge them based on their race, gender, or sexual orientation?  In my opinion, we tread upon dangerous waters when we entertain any conversations that marginalize any group of people, even those with tattoos and piercings.

    So, to end this post, no my personal preferences about my appearance have no bearing whatsoever on my ability to do my job as an educator.  To even imply that is completely offensive to me and to the hundreds of thousands of teachers on the front lines who do a great job daily despite having tattoos, piercings, or any other physical trait that might ruffle the feathers of the status quo.  It is those who judge who should be apologizing for their narrow mindedness and not the other way around…

© 2013, Tough Cookie Mommy. All rights reserved.


  1. As a future teacher-in-the-making, I couldn’t agree more. People should know better by now than to judge people by how they look – the fact that we have tattoos and piercings make us no less capable or intelligent than anyone else, and to insinuate it does is an indication of narrow-mindedness. As a parent (and in the future as a teacher), it’s important to me to teach tolerance for all, regardless of how they look, how much money they have, where they live, or anything else.

    • Cheryl, the issue of tolerance is exactly why this whole issue upsets me so much to begin with. Where are we as a people if we start measuring a person’s worth by physical adornments or traits? I venture to say that we are extremely shallow and judgmental…

  2. I totally agree with you. I have 8 tattoos, only one of which can be seen unless it’s summer time. I did that because I didn’t want to deal with the annoying sterotypical people that judge you because of your tattoos instead of your personality, in the work place. The tattoo I have that can be seen is on my collar bone, and it actually stopped me from getting a job, the guy interviewing me let me know his stance on tattoos and how they make you look “trashy”. It was a bunch of BS!
    I’m a great person (I may be a little bias, who knows lol) and I go above and beyond when work is involved, so it was probably better that I didn’t work for that guy.
    Like you said, all of my tattoos have a reason behind them. I’m proud of every single one. I have two trashy words for the peeps that think I’m trashy because of my tattoos!

    • Sheila, I’m very proud of my tattoos too and each one of them has a special significance for me. I think the people who judge us for having them have deeper issues with their own self-worth that ignites these feelings of animosity towards others…

  3. I agree. As a black woman who has choosen not to straighten her hair, I have had to school folks about how my hair has never lessened my work production. But I have learned that people are stupid.

    • Margaret, how right you are! Yes, stupidity is definitely a driving force in giving others the fuel to discriminate on this basis. As a Latina, it also hits home for me with regards to the many reasons that others engage in stereotyping and hating due to race differences. Neither my ethnicity, tattoos, or piercings have ever lessened my productivity at work.

  4. I can relate to that, I have 7 tattoos and plenty of earings. This does not make me ignorant nor incapable of performing my job. My body art should not be in question, but my talents and wisdom should. I am hired because I have what it takes to preform the job at hand, not because I have tatoos. Stupidity and ignorance are everywhere, but the sterotyping is untolerable and Discrimination is unacceptable. We are meant to be different and unique and with our differences we stand up, not out


  5. I have 2 tatts and they are visible but not easily. I don’t care what people think. If they judge me it shows a lack in *their* character.

    • You are right, Pascha. There is definitely something lacking in the character of someone who feels that they are above others or that they have the right to judge or look down upon others.

      • Maria,

        As I read your post, THIS is exactly what I was thinking…it;s not the tatto/piercing/style of clothing/etc…it is the act that certain ppl feel theya re above reproach or they feel inferior in some capacity and revel in putting others down….The tattoo is just an easy ‘way’ to do that!

        Thanks for sharing this sand for this blog! You host giveaways, mingles, etc yet you do share thought provoking topics and I love that! I subs vy email a while ago and I;m so happy I did.

        havea great day

  6. Kelsey Apley says

    I don’t think that tatoo’s should be judged, or anything else for that matter. We are all different and if someone wants 5 tattoo’s or 100 it is there choice. It doesn’t change their character!

    • Thanks for commenting, Kelsey. It’s true, having these things does not alter the character of the person.

    • You alter your appearance to look a certain way to strangers and you can not accept that others will see them as ugly. You are unrealistic. Tattoos are appearance, as the clothes you wear, the hair style you have and your hygiene. Get over it. You can not have it both ways.

  7. I agree with you that no one should judge you on anything appearance related, including tattoos and piercings. Clean cut does not equal top performing, and you truly can’t judge a book by its cover – however – since I focus my blogging on career related topics, I will say that I (and most decent people) know that tattoos and piercings don’t have anything to do with professionalism; however, there are many employers who don’t agree. I’m not saying they’re right – in fact, I’m saying they’re wrong – but it doesn’t change the fact that they hold the power to hire. I think of a very close friend of mine who has visible tattoos on her forearms. She is super talented, but she understands their are certain corporate workplaces that would misjudge her and not give her a chance because of her tattoos. It doesn’t mean she isn’t professional – it just means she doesn’t fit in with what some in business see as a typical picture of professional. This is fine though, because she has chosen a create career-path that is respectful of her freedom of expression. All of this is simply to say that visible tattoos and piercings can affect the level of professionalism that some perceive, and thus can limit some job opportunities. Bottom line, not too many people value working in such a stuffy, traditional workplace anyway, so it’s really not a big deal. I just think it’s good to keep in mind that you may have to pay dues to a company with a particularly “vanilla” culture at some point in your career – so I can see the benefit in having body art that can be covered on certain occasions – though again, it has nothing to do with your true professionalism. Performance is real judge of a professional.

    • Hi, Sara. Unfortunately, you are right in saying that there may be some work environments that frown upon them and cause you to conceal them. I don’t have so much of an issue with dealing with that as a reality. My issue comes more from the fact that some people use this as an excuse to marginalize others or put others down. It’s almost as if they feel entitled to discriminate against the person simply because they have tattoos or piercings. I feel very secure in my decisions to adorn my body with such things and they have absolutely no impact on my ability to educate children.

  8. Penny Roach says

    Yes, it is too bad that there is so much narrow mindedness out there. Are we going to decide that someone shouldn’t teach because of weight, or maybe because the teacher doesn’t want to dye her gray hair? It can get pretty ridiculous.

    • Penny, that is exactly my point. Where will we draw the line? If we allow others to discriminate based on one physical characteristic, what is to stop them from using other ridiculous criteria like a person’s hair color or weight?

  9. Kate Campbell says

    Agree 100%. I only have my nose pierced, but my daughter has tattoos and piercings, and my husband has tattoos I think body adornments of any kind (whether they are a preference or part of your culture) are your own personal business and in no way reflect on your ability to do a job.

  10. You alter your appearance and expect people not to judge? What world are you living? People judge all the time based on appearance and you do as well. If you were truly secure about yourself you would not care. I love the way you tattoo folk, brag about your individuality and yet can not take it that I, a business owner should cede mine and hire people that make awful decisions . Sorry, I have the right to define my business as classy in any way that I choose. Also, I have the right to make as much money as I want. Tattooed employees cost me profits. That is the bottomline.

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