Tattoos been around for centuries, their perception moved from indicating a higher social status to be associated with crimes and rebels in the past decades. Tattoos are not just a trend anymore they are part of our everyday lives. In Brazil, it’s hard to imagine a group of millennials (or Y generation) without one tattooed. You only need to take a look at the Brazil masculine football team to realize how frequent it is. More and more millennials are joining the work force, is the Brazilian work environment ready to receive a new generation of tattooed interns and how do companies adapt to this reality?
Tattoo: a sign of rebellion or artwork?
The negative image on tattoos is still very present in some of us. We associate them with criminals and non-trust worthy people. Tattoos used to be very rare from the 60s through the 90s. Only rock stars had the courage to be part of the alienated few having visible tattoos.
But these days, websites and apps like Instagram make it seems like second nature that most people to have tattoos. Far from being exclusively for young rebels, tattoo became part of everyone life’s regardless of the age. In Brazil, tattoos are not just ink on the skin but represent something important for people. In fact, a 2014 research shows that in Brazil the most popular tattoos of that year were Roman numbers, contour of the world map, arrows and the words love and believe. These serve as reminders of dreams and ambition, or simply people that matters.
Normality versus rejection
Brazilians are still very divided when it comes to tattoo at work. The corporate image is still very important and this makes it hard for them to imagine doing a very big visible tattoo. When some companies are very progressive and will not even think about tattoos in interviews, some other still have very strict rules on “body modification”. For example, companies like Disney, Calvin Klein, McDonalds still have internal rules that prohibits visible tattoos for employees. The argument being that some client might feel uncomfortable in front of a tattooed employee due to the numerous stereotypes. These strict rules in these companies might prevent the recruitment of talents in the next years.
But generally speaking, different from other countries like France where any tattoo in the corporate world would be negatively perceived, most young Brazilian don’t give tattoos that much importance. For an older generation who have seen brazil change from non tolerance to tolerant, some professional with tattoos can be a seen as creative and originals, for other professionals, tattoos can be perceived very negatively example for doctors, accountant and lawyers. The comfort in front of tattoos still depends on the profession and the importance of the tattooed.
There is no clear way to know how tattoo will effect or day-to-day life. With time, will people trust a tattooed person as much as other? Would we feel comfortable having a tattooed surgeon or being defended by a tattooed lawyer?