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Commentary: Tattoos do not define someone’s entire being

Tattoos have always been taboo in a conservative society like the Philippines as it is often associated with rebellion and aggression, and are even oftentimes affiliated with crime and drugs.

As such, getting one can lead people to have a negative perception of you: “It is unhygienic,” “It is uncanny to look at,” and “It is unprofessional” are some commonly heard phrases directed at those with tattoos, or those who plan to get one. This perception often results in discrimination or bias in job applications. or in the workplace itself.

However, a tattoo is an art, and it is only skin-deep–literally and figuratively.

While having a tattoo is a way to express one’s self or to show a fragment of one’s personality, it is not a means to define someone’s entire being. If you think about it literally, it’s just ink on skin, that’s it – its design is what makes it unique, and those designs are meant to speak.

Just like how we choose our clothes, choosing a tattoo signifies how we want to be seen by others, but most importantly, how we want to see ourselves. There are no right or wrong tattoos (except maybe for the really vulgar and illicit ones–well, those speak for themselves).

There’s nothing wrong with having a tattoo, in relation to one’s occupation. Tattoos don’t take away your capability to be effective and efficient in doing your job: A tattooed teacher doesn’t mean they’re delinquent and can’t teach their students properly, a tattooed social worker doesn’t mean they’re unreliable, a tattooed doctor doesn’t make them unhygienic. A tattoo is just a tattoo.

Fortunately, the Philippines is becoming more open now to tattooed people. We now have people openly traveling to Buscalan to meet Apo Whang-od and get a tattoo from a real ‘mambabatok.’ The Philippines has also had its first glimpse of a fully tattooed news anchor Mikee Reyes do a report on national television.

What’s left now is to probably have laws and regulations to protect employees from discrimination based on their tattoos because tattoos do not make anybody less of a person.


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