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It seems like everyone has a tattoo on some part of their body. Maybe it was a drunken night out with friends that resulted in matching friendship tattoos or wanting to pay tribute to a loved one. The point is, tattoos have become a huge part of our social culture and norms. But only to an extent. How many tattoos are considered too many by society?
Though most people don't blink at the sight of a single tattoo, the more tattoos people have the stigma increases. Yes, we've come along way with accepting tattoos, but there's still a stigma against ink. But what happens when people decide to hide their tattoos with makeup? Are they treated differently than before?
Tattoos are no longer a passing trend
Go back ten years ago, and sure, there were some people with tattoos, but it wasn't a thing. Today, almost everyone has a tattoo, whether there's a meaning behind it or not. What can I say? Tattoos are now the new accessory; everyone has one.
This is amazing as years ago, if you had a tattoo, you were a criminal or did jail time. The labels didn't stretch far back then, and many had to hide their tattoos under their clothes in fear of being judged and discriminated against. And though tattoos are common now, people are still being judged for their ink.
But people continue to be judged for their ink
You'd think that since most people have a tattoo, the taboo around tattoos would disappear. But you'll be surprised at the discrimination tattooed people still receive around the world. Sure, people can handle a small tattoo on someone's wrist or ankle.
But there seems to be a threshold of how many tattoos are considered a social norm. Most people are fine with an arm tattoo, but the minute it reaches the neck, they're no longer supportive. It looks like people can only accept tattoos is they're hidden underneath clothes or makeup. But is that true?
Are tattooed people treated differently when their tattoos are completely covered?
Three heavily tattooed people decided to participate in a social experiment, seeing if they're treated differently when their tattoos are exposed or completely covered up. While covered in tattoos, do people show them the same kindness as they would they're not tattooed?
Are they're treated with discrimination and judgment? More importantly, how do the tattooed participants feel when their tattoos are completely covered up? Society says we're accepting of tattoos, but how accepting are we really? It's time to find out.
Jason is one inked Brit
Most people, when getting tattoos, they'll get one or two in low-key places. But for Jason, he loved tattoos and wanted to get them. For Jason, none of his tattoos have any meaning, he simply enjoys the art. He's paid the price for his tattoos. Not only does his father disapprove of the way he looks, but he was even falsely accused of kidnapping with a firearm.
And for a moment, Jason thought he would end up in prison for something he didn't even do. Though Jason loves the way he looks and is comfortable in his skin, he's had to fight for his right for his own self-identity and expression. So, what happens when Jason takes to the street to ask for strangers to help him?
People weren't welcoming to Jason
In the social experiment, Jason's task was to stand on the street asking people if they had change for a ten-dollar bill. It sounds simple enough, right? Completely tattooed, Jason went to a busy street, asking people for their help. Most people walked by, completely ignoring Jason's question and refraining from making eye contact. One man even stopped and asked Jason, "Are you going to mug me?" Jason was surprised, replying, "Uh, no. I kinda just want change for a ten [dollar bill]."
But Jason decided to continue the conversation, questioning the man why he had that judgment. The two spoke for a couple of minutes and got to know each other. After, the man said, "I did have judgmental issues. I said I got five daughters, and if one of them was to marry you, I'd disinherit her." But then the man continued, "Initially. But then when I speak to ya for a few minutes, you seem like an okay guy. But I wouldn't want ya in front of house in a hotel."
The stigma against tattoos is layered
Even though the man was able to see Jason for who he was, he still showed discrimination against Jason's tattoos when he said, "you seem like an okay guy. But I wouldn't want ya in front of house in a hotel." And that's truly saddening, as many tattooed people lose job opportunities due to their body modification. Employers feel that tattoos negatively represent their businesses as they believe tattoos look "untidy," "repugnant," and unsavory."
As UK's most tattooed man, Body Art (formerly Mathew Whelan), says to BBC, "If someone can do a job, they should be equal with the next person who has the same CV." Tattoos are not just a lifestyle choice, they're an expression of self-identity, just like religion and other beliefs.
Jason's hasn't had the best experiences in the past
For Jason, in the past, things weren't so easy. He said, "if you were to look at my CV, you would have said, 'Wow, this guy is good.' But then as soon as I go there with my CV it's like...they look me up and down and say, 'No, it's not for us.' You can tell it; it's in their face."
Even Skat was recommended by his friends who work high up in local companies not to apply for any position as he won't be accepted due to his tattoos. The three of them didn't completely believe what the employees were saying. But would anything change once their tattoos were covered?
It was time to switch things up
We know what happened when Jason's neck and facial tattoos were exposed to strangers on the street, but what happens when Jason covers up the tattoos? After an hour of applying heavy-duty makeup onto Jason's face and neck, his tattoos were completely hidden.
Jason was finally ready to hit the streets and ask for change for a ten-dollar bill again. Was the reaction the same? Or was Jason treated differently than before? It was time to try out the second part of this social experiment.
What happened when Jason covered his tattoos?
After having his tattoos covered, Jason went back to the same street and asked people either for change for ten-dollars or directions. People stopped immediately, willing to help him with any question he had. Jason said, "people treat me differently 100% with the makeup on."
Once Jason took the makeup off, people started to ask questions about his tattoos, wondering if the upside-down cross on his face meant he killed someone. Though people were more accepting of the facial tattoos, you can see they still had their own stereotypes about them.
It was time for the next social experiment
Jason was sent on the street to see if people would help him if he was tattooed. But now, it was time to see if a tattooed person would be able to get a low-skilled job. Would having a tattooed face and neck prevent someone from getting a job?
Though we like to believe that everyone has equal opportunity, it was time to see if that was really true or if there was prejudice when it came to hiring someone with a face tattoo. Becky and Skat, two people with facial tattoos, decided to try this social experiment out.
Skat went from having face tattoos to not having any
At twenty-one, Skat started getting facial tattoos. With his continued to add more and more on until his face was completely covered. But at one point, he didn't enjoy his facial tattoos and decided to get them removed. The process took over a year, and eventually, his face was tattooless.
Though some people don't have a story behind their tattoos, many do. However, after his daughter died at fourteen months, he decided to redo his facial tattoos in tribute to her. Skat said the process of tattooing his face helped him through the grieving process of the loss of his daughter.
Becky was a wild child
Growing up, Becky was a wild child who craved the attention of her parents. In an interview, she said she was pretty sure her parents almost divorced because of her. Becky said while growing up, she was very lost and got herself into a lot of trouble, including shoplifting and getting expelled from school.
But, one day, something clicked inside of her, and she decided she wanted to become something. So, she went into modeling. Her first tattoo was at fifteen-years-old; it was her boyfriend's name across her panty line. She soon had it removed but continued getting other tattoos on her body.
Did Skat, Becky, and Jason pass the tattoo guidelines for employment?
Becky decided to test out McDonald's and see whether or not her tattoos would be a problem. In McDonald's dress code, they permit tattoos, but only if they're non-obstructive and non-offensive. Since none of Becky's tattoos crossed the line, she shouldn't have a problem getting hired at McDonald's.
For Skat, he decided to try his luck at Starbucks, even though they have a strict dress code for employees. As Starbucks states, face and neck tattoos are not allowed. But, would Skat get rejected? Meanwhile, Jason went to KFC to see if he could get a job. It's time to see what happened with this social experiment.
What they discovered was surprising
Becky, Skat, and Jason were pretty surprised when they went to look for employment. KFC, McDonald's, and Starbucks employees stated there wouldn't be a problem with their tattoos, and they were welcome to apply online. Now, this is a huge surprise as companies like Starbucks have a strict no face/neck tattoo policy.
Skat was the most surprised, as he said, "surprisingly refreshing actually, they treated me very well. The attitudes must have changed because I think she would actually like to see me have a job at Starbucks." But have things really changed?
How do they cover their tattoos?
If you have one tattoo, covering it up isn't that much work. But what if your entire face and neck are covered in tattoos? Now, that's a job that's going to take some time. For the social experiment, to hide their tattoos, participants needed to have an entire makeup team working on them, making sure no ink is exposed.
The three of them had to have an orange concealer applied first as a base, before a thick foundation, matching their skin tone was applied on top. Though it took some time, the three tattooed participants Becky, Skat, and Jason, were no longer tattooed. Did they like how they looked?
They weren't fans of clear skin
After having facial tattoos for so long, having them covered was a weird experience for them. Skat didn't like the way he looked and had a hard time not seeing his tribute tattoos to his late daughter. The longer he looked at himself, the more it made him sick. When Becky had her face and neck tattoos covered up, she was in shock.
Becky said, "super weird. It looks so strange. Oh my god, I look like a lady, like a woman. I kinda feel like a lost a little bit of confidence. I think my tattoos make me feel empowered and that I stand out from the crowd." Though they didn't like the way they looked, what did strangers think of them?
Would people respond differently to untattooed faces?
It was time to start the social experiment. Becky, Skat, and Jason had their tattoos covered, and it was time to see if people would stop and help when they were approached by one of them. The minute they asked someone for help, the stranger stopped and would kindly help them out.
There was no awkwardness or questions about whether or not they're going to get mugged. It seemed like the strangers held no bias or judgments against Becky, Skat, or Jason. But one stranger commented on Skat's makeup, and he decided to confess to her what he's been hiding.
A single stranger changed everything for Skat
While Skat was doing the social experiment, he stopped one woman for help. She said, "for a man, you have so much makeup on." He said, "tattoos," and then showed her a picture of himself. Her reply surprised him as she said, "it's beautiful, I've never seen anyone like that."
It just goes to show, being yourself is always the better choice. People may like it or not, but as this one woman said, Skat's tattooed face is something different and interesting in comparison to the norm. But what did Becky, Skat, and Jason have to say about the social experiment?
The participants had mixed emotions
For Becky, she noticed a change, "Without the tattoos, they didn't seem so intimidated or threatened by me. And they were more than happy to help." But she felt that maybe with her tattoos, she approached people more aggressively than without them. For Skat, this experience was emotional.
He said, "It made me feel good in one sense, and then bad in the other because this isn't the real me, so I would like to be treated the same either way...Before a lot of people didn't even acknowledge that I was talking, they'd just walk straight past. This time people are actually stopping to talk, and I actually had a couple of little conversations. So it was definitely a noticeable difference this time."
They had one more social experiment to test
Though it's not necessarily right, it's understandable why companies have dress codes for their staff and employees. But did you ever hear of a company having a customer appearance policy? Harrod's department store states they refuse to allow entry to anyone who's wearing any inappropriate tattoos or clothing that contain questionable language or designs.
And if this is true, well, then this isn't good for Becky, Skat or Jason. This means Becky, Skat, and Jason could potentially get kicked out of the department store for their tattoos. Would it happen to any of them? Or would Harrods allow them inside their store?
It's happened before
Though this is a social experiment, Jason was actually kicked out of a Harrod's in the past for his appearance. So, naturally, those memories come crawling back when the time comes to make another appearance at Harrod's. Would Jason end up getting kicked out for a second time? Or has Harrod's changed their ways?
From their customer appearance policy, it doesn't look like they have updated themselves. But maybe the staff of Harrod's aren't following the guidelines so strictly. The only way to tell is by testing it out.
Would Harrod's policy on customer appearance get them kicked out?
Jason, Skat, and Becky tested out their social experiment and went to Harrod's with their tattoos covered. While walking through the department store, no one stopped or questioned them about why they were there. No one batted an eye.
Skat went into the bathroom, washed off his makeup, and went back out onto the floor of the department store. With his face covered in tattoos, he went around, asking for the staff for assistance. Instead of being turned away or asked to leave, all staff members helped him find what he was looking for. How was Becky's experience?
Was Becky accepted or asked to leave?
Even though Skat was treated kindly with respect, can the same be said for Becky? Her task was to go to the makeup department and approach a makeup artist. While looking for a foundation, she asked the makeup artist if facial tattoos are acceptable here.
The lady replied that though someone at Harrod's does have a neck tattoo, she's not sure about facial tattoos. Becky said, "I wanted to shock her. I kinda wanted her to be shocked, but she wasn't. She liked it [the tattoo].
The social experiment shined a different light on the participants
As Skat said, "I can't believe it actually. I was more worried that they were going to kick me out for the [sic] mess I made of myself [while taking off his makeup]." For Skat, this experience was a surprise, "I was expecting to be tackled and slung out on the street and nobody cared; nobody batted an eyelid."
Finally, Skat was able to see himself being treated like a normal person and customer. This was something he didn't expect to happen. As he said, "it kinda restored my faith in humanity." It shows that people are becoming accepting of tattoos. As Youtube star Katrin Berndt says about her fascination with tattoos, it was because she didn't want to feel naked anymore.
The older generations aren't a fan of facial tattoos
What did this social experiment really show the participants? From their participation, things became much clearer for them. Becky said it perfectly, "The older generation is always going to frown on tattoos, but the younger generation getting much more used to it, and it's become more popular."
She continued, "I guess it's more normal now." Even Katrin Berndt, who covered up her tattoos, realized that her tattoos are apart of her and her self-identity. As time passes, tattoos are becoming less taboo because more people have them. And as more people have them, they become less unusual and apart of social norms.