We are all acutely aware of the beliefs that our parents and grandparents seem to have ingrained in their minds regarding what we youngsters may call “beautiful art”. I choose to place that phrase in inverted commas as one may argue that beauty is subjective. If you were to ask my grandparents for their honest opinions on my tattoos, for instance, I believe the words ‘hideous’ and ‘stupid’ are much more likely to be used.

Tattoo Taboo

I’ve tried many a time to change their minds but it seems to be as big of a challenge as teaching my grandfather how to download a torrent; almost impossible. In years gone by, tattooed folk were frowned upon and sneered at, assumed to be convicts, sailors, rebels, or a combination of the three. Potential employers would view them with skepticism and think it better to employ anyone else, as if having no tattoos is a qualification in itself.

Nowadays, for the most part, tattoos are no longer viewed as an act of rebellion. However, I wonder, has this view changed in the professional world? To get a fresh perspective on things, I spoke to Chrii Bonnici and Kyle Ghirxi, both of whom work at New York Best, a food outlet well known for its ‘alternative’ employees.

I was eager to find out the reasons behind employing staff who sport facial piercings and sleeves of tattoos and Chrii was eager to tell. No one, not even the staff members themselves can deny, that tattooed folk give the restaurant somewhat of a cool vibe, one which may, at the very least, intrigue and encourage passersby to come on in and maybe even order a burger. This may be true for many youngsters, but can the same be said for the older generation?

Tattoo Taboo

Chrii claims that despite having fallen victim to a few negative or insulting comments along the way, she has received many more positive ones, even from the elderly. Of course, it goes without saying that many more youths have shouted, “cool tats!” than anyone’s grandfather, but it cannot be denied that even this is progress.

In a nutshell, she notes that despite most members of the older generation tending to keep their comments to themselves, there has definitely been a significant decrease in eyebrow raises. Is this enough however? Does a decrease in tutting and sneering mean that tattooed people are more likely to be accepted in the professional sphere in the near future?

Chrii certainly thinks so. She and Kyle both believe that slowly but surely, more employers are choosing, not only to embrace, but encourage all forms of expression, implying that a tattoo of a rosebud on one’s arm is hardly going to hinder their performance behind a bar, on a shop floor, or even in a medical ward. The latter might be slightly too ambitious for the time being, but at this rate, anything is possible.

It goes without saying that for the moment, establishments like New York Best are the minority, but they are certainly paving the way for others to follow suit. After all, it cannot be denied that when walking down the street, you’re likely to come across countless people, of varying ages, with varying tattoos. Keeping this in mind, would it really be constructive for employers to categorically refuse a tattooed individual a job? If so, they may be surprised at just how many competent and talented people they would be sending away. Ask yourself – would it be fair to judge one’s abilities based solely on their form of expression, just because it differs from yours? If so, not many would want to be employed by you anyway. In the words of Chrii: “If it doesn’t offend or hurt anyone, then why is it wrong?”

Tattoo Taboo

It appears that the traditional mindset is being phased out and replaced by one that is more modern and possibly more accepting. Thus, there is hope for the future and for individuals who sport tattoos and other visible forms of expression. Finally, their voices are being heard and fewer doors are being closed in their faces, giving them more opportunities to be the successful youths they are destined to be, with or without the rosebud tattoo.


© 2018 – VIDA Magazine – Amy Micallef Decesare