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Friday, August 24, 2007

Human Billboards on the Loose - Breathing Space Blog

My home town newspaper, the Chapel Hill News, which seems to have an ongoing convoluted social agenda, recently glorified two college students who got tattoos which enabled them to get a discount on cups of coffee at a local coffee shop. Anthropologist Margaret Mead referred to tattoos and body piercing as self-mutilation. While the two young people, with a strong yen for coffee (or is it addiction to the psychotropic drug caffeine?) were exalted in the article for becoming human billboards, the rest of Chapel Hill's students were potentially exposed to more bizarre behavior, sanctioned by the home-town newspaper.

Here's what the newspaper article and other articles like don't seem to include:

1) Tattoos, however seemingly cool initially, can become god-awful looking over time, and what you thought was nifty at age 20 can appear ridiculous at 30 or 40.

2) The tattoo removal business is thriving. Removal, however, can be painful, involved, and costly, possibly exceedingly $1000, with only semi-satisfactory results.

3) What if the sponsoring coffee shop doesn't stay in business?

4) Many workplace policies don't permit tattoos or piercings unless they're under cover. Having tattoos can limit or end your career prospects, reports USA Today. Many companies are concerned about how much contact their "modified" employees will have with customers.

One local medical supplier requires employees in the field to cover tattoos and remove facial piercings. Walt Disney World, in its "cast" appearance policy, permits employee tattoos only if they can be covered with opaque makeup, not a bandage. Caribou Coffee (O! the irony) does not allow "facial jewelry" or visible tattoos.

PetSmart allows only covered tattoos. In the hot, steamy climate of Houston, Texas, law enforcement officers must wear winter clothing year-round to cover what would otherwise be visible tattoos with short sleeves.

Employers say that it's "a matter of professionalism." Applicants who aim to serve the public must keep the public's trust and confidence in mind. Would you trust an officer who appears to frequent the nearest biker bar?

If you land a job in an air-conditioned office and it's possible to wear long sleeves all year long, maybe you can get away with tattoos on your arms, chest, or back. However, what about a company picnic, a company baseball game, or some other outing? And do you want to wear long sleeves in the summer for the rest of your career?

As for the Chapel Hill News, what's next? A front-page, top-of-the-fold feature on getting eyebrow rings for discount prices on donuts? Please! Give us some Breathing Space from such lame-brain articles.

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