Tattoos are ubiquitous now, especially among younger Canadians. Once a symbol of counter-culture, of biker gangs and prison inmates, they’re now so common-place they barely elicit any reaction at all.
My barista at Starbucks this morning had sleeves – full arm tattoos from at least the elbow to the wrist. I only recall that fact because I’m writing about tattoos. Otherwise, it was unremarkable.
The data backs up the proliferation of ink. One-in-three Canadians (33 per cent) have at least one tattoo, according to an online survey of 9,054 respondents conducted by Dalia Research in 2018. That’s below the global average of 38 per cent and behind Italy, where nearly one-half of the population (48 per cent) is inked.
That’s up significantly from a similar 2012 survey that found about 20 per cent of Canadians had a tattoo.
We’ve moved past the argument – which frankly was not that long ago – about whether employers should discriminate against a candidate who had tattoos or body piercings. Their ability to shock has mostly faded: But there is one notable exception.
The face tattoo.
The first time I saw one, it was the swastika carved onto the forehead of Charles Manson. Then Mike Tyson showed up with one – which was nearly as comical as it was weird.
But now a rather large number of artists are sporting ink unironically on their face – Post Malone has many. So does rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine. Earlier this week, face tattoos hit the headlines again when Aaron Carter – a 31-year-old singer – showed off a tattoo of Rihanna on his face that ran across “his cheeks, cheekbone, temple and jaw as well as under his eye,” according to Global News.
Which is, just, well. It’s weird. I’ll just say it – tattooing someone else’s face onto your own face is bizarre.
Sleeves are one thing and by all means decorate your back and legs to your heart’s content. It won’t hurt your resume. But a face tattoo? That’s still a showstopper in the corporate world.
Howard Stern, the radio shock jock who has mellowed in old age, opined this week in the wake of Carter’s Rihanna tribute that once you get a face tattoo, you’re sort of giving up any hope of a regular day job.
To many, the face tattoo still elicits shock and, in many cases, disgust. It would be hard for hiring managers to look past it. But the same thing could have been said about full-arm ink not that long ago.
What’s taboo today is so often mainstream tomorrow.