Tattoo Taboo


Story Details

One in every seven people have tattoos these days in Australia and the number's growing.

They've become the fashion statement of the rich and famous... Actors and sports stars alike… But has the traditional symbol of the class divide finally come in from the cold?

For Carla Evelyn, her tattoos are about self-expression.

“You can pick a tattoo and remember exactly what happened on that day,” says Carla.

But it's what happened on a recent night out that she would like to forget after a drink was accidentally spilt over her back in a busy nightclub.

My hair was sopping wet and my jacket was sopping wet and I took it off and immediately the bouncer went up to me and said get out… you've got your tattoos showing... I felt ashamed that I'd even tried to go in there,” says Carla.

Many night clubs and bars boast a no tattoo policy by demanding patrons pay for a sleave at the door

“They really need to change the way they look or they're just going to alienate a lot of the youth… I think they think that you're a bit lower class,” says Carla.

“I think it sort of means you're a criminal or a menace to society or gangster,” says Tyson Regino.

Far from a threat, Tyson’s neck tattoo represents his love for his family... a love that influenced his career aspirations.

“My mum's partner was in the Army, my biological father was in the Army... You could say the Army is in my blood lines,” says Tyson.

Straight out of school, Michael not only passed all the recruitment tests but scored within the top 3%... But his dreams were shattered at the final hurdle.

“We walked into the interview, he said you know you're going to have to get that neck tattoo removed… Very disappointed in the Army to reject me just because of that matter,” says Tyson.

You can die for your country but not with a tat on your hands, neck or face.

“To me my tattoos are art work so I love finding artists that I love and respect and travelling to them,” says Apprentice tattoo artist Jess.

But Jess believes attitudes are changing…

“I have never had a problem in the past… to my face everyone's always been lovely,” says Jess.

And she agreed to help us test that out by door knocking for work ... Those results later...

“People come in here with, you know they work in an office environment and they've got a sleeve tattoo. They currently can only wear long sleeve t-shirts. We've got other people who wear thick watches over their wrist tattoos so their boss can't see them,” says Charles Thomas, owner of D-inkD.

While body art is a booming business Charles makes his living removing them.

“Obviously mis-spelt names, ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends, Chinese symbols that don't actually mean what people think they mean,” explains Charles.

And the market is growing...

“We're treating a number of patients who are actively joining the Army. Obviously the Police force is another one and also we've had a couple of sort of the airline hostesses,” says Charles.

While tattoos are stopping some from getting work, Holly Hagan, star of Geordie Shore sees them as part of her cv.

“I'm all for tattoos… I think they're amazing, I've got 4 myself... the world is changing and tattoos are becoming so much more popular and I think the discriminatory side of it is kind of going to have to be a thing of the past now because everyone is getting tattoos,” says Holly.

But what if you are after a normal job? Let's see how Jess went…

“Are my tattoos a problem at all?”

interviewer: “…so basically I've got a tattoo. You can't notice it so just as long as your tattoos are covered up it's no problem.”

Some were reluctant to even accept Jess' resume.

“We're only taking resumes online to the email addresses on there.”

But others were more accepting...

“At the end of the day I don't think it's too much of an issue. We're living in 2013 not 1984”.

“They said as long as they're covered everything will be fine,” says Jess.

“We've gone from tattoos as being this kind of class badging across to tattoo now as a kind of art form,” says Anthony Elliot, Professor of Sociology and Director of the Hawke Research Institute.

“There's no doubt that the rise and rise of tattoos has been celebrity led. Young people right throughout the world have sought to imitate their favourite celebrities,” says Anthony.

“Kids who have seen their favourite idols with neck tattoos or tattoos on their hands, they haven't actually thought about the reasons behind why they want them. They're just going with a fad,” says Tattoo artist Aleshia from Coastal Ink.

Aleshia says she makes a point of questioning every client before tattooing.

“It is the responsibility of the client but at the end of the day if they want it done it's their decision,” says Aleshia.

So before deciding to get inked...

“Be very careful before you get that tattoo otherwise we might be seeing you in about ten years’ time,” says Charles.

“Have a think about it but if you really want it go for it because at the end of the day you're the only one that's got to live with it,” says Michael.