Impact of ink

Spinnaker

Having trouble finding a good job? It might be because of a piercing you do not want to get rid of or a visible permanent tattoo.

Forty-eight percent of Americans aged 18-29 have a tattoo or a piercing other than on their ears, according to a 2006 study by The Journal of The American Academy of Dermatology.

Jimmy Twisdale, a junior physical therapy major, believes people with a tattoo or piercing are individuals who have their own reasons behind the type of “body art” they have, he said. Twisdale has a total of six tattoos and both of his ears pierced. All of his tattoos have meaning behind them from a past life experience, he said.

Twisdale is willing to remove his piercings and cover his tattoos for job purposes.

“I usually take my earrings out before an interview and ask about the policy later,” Twisdale said. “If I were to get hired and my earrings were not acceptable, I have no problem in removing them while at work.

“As for my tattoos, they stay covered with regular clothing. I do not get anything out of the ordinary or below my elbows for that purpose.”

Twisdale has been stereotyped in the past by his parents, old friends or random people while hanging out with friends, but he does not stereotype others with tattoos or piercings, he said.

“When people stereotype me they usually think I’m in some sort of gang, but I’m not bothered by it because I know I am not. I’m just a grown man with meaning behind his tattoos, and it’s one way I express my individuality,” he said.

But Twisdale said he has had no problem with teachers or peers. He believes people are becoming more accepting to tattoos and piercings, he said.

There hasn’t been a negative effect on his schoolwork as he has maintained high grades since he was a freshman, Twisdale said.

Twisdale is also a shoe store manager at Regency Square Mall. At his store, there is no policy against piercings or tattoos as long as the dress code is followed and nothing offensive is visible, he said.

“If I hire someone, it is for their personality and qualifications,” Twisdale said. “I do not discriminate people because of their piercings or tattoos. I believe that the person’s qualities, personality and customer service skills should drive away any stereotypes others may have. The only way I would not hire someone is if they were inked from head to toe, face and all because that just might scare me.”

Tim Renaud, a tattoo artist who works at Untouchable Tattoos at Regency Square Mall, addressed the same issues with body art.

When he first started getting tattoos, it was more taboo, and he was forced to look for jobs at local clubs or bars where tattoos and piercings are not usually looked down upon, Renaud said.

“There was only one job that I can remember where I was willing to wear clothing to cover my arms and legs where most of my tattoos are and remove my ear piercings,” Renaud said. “It’s part of me, my personality, my individuality, and I have my own reasons for having what I have. I was not willing to alter who I am for a job,” he said.

Renaud has been an artist his whole life and always knew he wanted to become a tattoo artist, he said.

“I think back then it was really taboo, and working at a tattoo shop I see more and more people are getting tattoos and piercings,” he said. “I think people as well as employers are becoming more accepting toward them, but there still are and will always be people out there not accepting them.”

E-mail Leyla Ramos at [email protected]