Tattoos | Diversity | Identity


Well hello stranger(s), remember me? If I thought I had a lot of work to do in first year of university, then second year just shot me down. I've to create a pop-up event for Cruise clothing, research and write an essay on live experiences and if that wasn't enough, create my own magazine (mock cover pictured below - can you guess what VDM stands for?); photo shoots and an article on diversity included. Ha, I know. So I've been a little busy if you couldn't already tell. Since I haven't been able to sit down and take a second to think of some blog posts, I thought I would share the first draft of my diversity article with you all. The article is based on tattoos within the fashion industry (shocker for me, eh?) and how it makes me a little pissed off that we still get judged and told to cover our ink up - as if covering them is going to make us any better at our jobs. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it and I'll try and get some other posts with some of the work I've been doing lately up soon. Much love xoxo

The fashion industry is forever evolving at rapid speed; from Chanel and her palazzo pants, to Rihanna and her lack of pants. Styles change, people change, but one thing remains the same: the judgement in a stranger’s voice and facial expression, when they do not particularly agree with the ensemble you painstakingly styled that morning. Or on a more person level, the way in which you choose to represent your personality and identity to the big bad world.
One question which most tattooed people tend to get asked on a regular basis is, “How will you ever get your dream job now?”. Who is to say that an individual with ink on his or her arm, isn’t as passionate, dedicated and hard working as the clear-skinned, hopeful intern, sitting next to them in Anna Wintour’s reception? In the end, it all falls down to an expected set of ‘ideals’ that the fashion industry has set in stone for the world to follow as religiously as Vogue itself.
Having said this however, a selection of highly influential - and at times, controversial – designers have taken the first step towards change, by casting heavily tattooed models on their catwalk shows and advertorials. Names include the likes of Vivienne Westwood, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Valentino and Marc Jacobs and each have welcomed tattoos wholeheartedly. For example, the head design due for Valentino; Pierpaolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chuiri, have been at the reigns of the fashion house since 2007. Since then, they have revelled in injecting a sense of youth to the brand and have managed to do so in a variety of ways. One such way was through their Spring Summer 2013 accessories advertorials, where the heavily tattooed photographer Terry Richardson, replaced the regular presentation of florals and candy coloured lace with his sleeve. Maria Grazia Chuiri commented saying, “the sensual yet elegant nature of our accessories, described as objects of desire - and Terry’s tattooed arm is the perfect showcase.”
Other successful fashion names such as Louis Vuitton, have previously made a less permanent decision. In 2010, “Models at Louis Vuitton sported custom temporary tattoos by Brooklyn artist Scott Campbell.” Said tattoos were in no way, shape or form subtle or on the small side either; they were large, eye-catching pieces placed directly on the neck/chest, full arm and calves. If steps such as these are being made on the luxury, high fashion scene (where image and self representation really is everything), it begs an answer as to why individuals with tattoos are still being judged in not only the fashion retail industry, but the work place in general.
Kieran Rose is an up-and-coming ‘alternative’ model who, at the tender age of just nineteen, already has countless tattoos covering around 70% of his body. He regularly shoots for a variety of street-wear brands, has an impressive fan base and although undoubtedly talented in what he does, knows all too well the sharp sting of rejection from the public. “I’ve had some abuse for them [tattoos] in the past and still get s**** for them every now and then. People say its ‘disgusting’…those people are just judgemental”. Kieran then commented further saying, “I think as popular as they’re becoming, there’s still a lot of people who’re against them and always will be.”
It is a disturbing realisation that people are still being discriminated against in the 21st century, despite how far the general consensus on body art has come in the past decade or so. “What were once the province of sailors or bikers, and then the pastime of rockers and punks, are now all over bank tellers and advertising executives and stay-at-home moms.” Those particular individuals with tattoos are still very capable of being successful at a high rank career; such as a magazine editor, photographer or top model. Tattoos are no longer the sole symbol of rebellion, aggression or anger. They simply extend a persons identity and personality and show that they believe in something: “There is something especially wonderful about seeing a tattoo on a model on a runway—I’m here, it says. I’m different. I have a grandmother, a favorite poem, an opinion.”
As it stands, there are many retailers - and other professions – which have policies in place which states that body art must be covered when in the work place at all times. This is generally due to the brand not wishing to have a specific look or stereotype associated with them. However, after looking at a recent survey on the general public, asking what their thoughts were on heavily tattooed individuals, it is a wonder that said policies are still being enforced. Over 60% of the public said that they would feel more than comfortable to receive their medical treatment, education and legal advice from someone with visible tattoos. A farther 94% said that they did not feel that someone should be made to cover their tattoos, purely to gain employment in their chosen field. Finally, 100% of people surveyed stated that they in no way found heavily tattooed people offensive.If brands are worried about their self-portrayal within a public setting and therefore have employees cover up their tattoos, perhaps this could change in the near future if they saw that the majority of the public did not actually react badly towards them.
What was interesting from the survey, were the comments that the public left on their opinion of heavy tattooing. One individual said that “tattoo’s don’t change the person, they are an expression of the person”, with another stating that “it is a personal choice and doesn’t reflect someone’s skill or intelligence”.
Statements such as these just shows how the public actually feels towards body art and it being presented in a work environment. Just as Kieran Rose noted previously, there are people who will forever have an issue with tattoos. However, in today’s society, more and more people (both from a younger and an older generation) are walking into tattoo parlours and requesting to be inked on a much grander scale. Time will present itself eventually, when those applying to be the next Editor-In-Chief of Vogue may well just have a full sleeve. Who knows, maybe even the President of the United States could have a chorus of song lyrics, or skull and roses tattooed to his (or her) bicep.


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