A Picture is Worth One Thousand Words: Body Art in the Workplace

Despite the large number of adults with tattoos or other forms of body art,
stereotypes of individuals who have body modification, most inaccurate, abound. Tattooed
and pierced persons are viewed as irresponsible, unprofessional, and less qualified than their
un-modified peers. While body modifications are not protected under federal laws—or laws in
other countries—prejudice and discrimination based on body art can have significant repercussions
for individuals and their organizations. Using qualitative data culled from message
board postings, this paper discusses the stereotypes surrounding body art and investigates the
possible sources of these beliefs. It describes the impact of these stereotypes on tattooed,
pierced, and otherwise modified individuals, exploring the relationship between body art,
identity, and authenticity. It wrestles with the impact prejudice and stigma have on modified
employees and potential employees, considering self-esteem, performance, and other employee
outcomes. Finally, it discusses what employees with body art and organizations can do to
promote a positive, compassionate work environment. The paper concludes with a discussion
of managerial implications and suggestions for future research….




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