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Tattoo you

By Sophie Love - posted Tuesday, 10 September 2013

I know I'm getting old because all the shop assistants look 15 . . . hang on, they ARE all 15 . . . and now everywhere I go with my little boy we are faced with tattoos – on the arms, necks, calves, backs and even shins of not only the unemployed outside Centrelink (as used to be the case) but every shop assistant, barista, waitress etc. Is it just me or is this really horrible and offensive. Rather like full frontal nudity in public?

I appreciate the long and interesting history of body art in indigenous cultures, but WHY are Gen Y so determined to mark and colour themselves and then make us look at it? And why do their employers allow it? I know I'm old fashioned, but I don't want my 4 year old exposed to graphics of skulls and scary images, whether in books, movies or in the flesh. He's still a baby and I want to protect his innocence. But it seems we have no choice because everywhere we go he is being confronted by graphic images he is way too young for. Where is the censorship in what is appropriate for PG viewing in the new world of ink on skin?

I don't have any problem with what people do with their bodies, but to my mind, a few yonis on Honi Soit are far easier to explain away than some of the skin images we are being faced with daily (after all, Mummy's got a vulva, and he knows that was his portal to the planet). Yesterday we were in a major sports store and the guy serving us, in shorts and a tee shirt, had tattoos all over the front and back of his legs (prime 4 year old viewing). I was terrified of him, the 'art' (and I use the term loosely), and I'm 47. You can imagine how scared my little boy was and the nightmares he will now suffer as a result.


Look, I'm a rebel from way back and I've pushed the boat out on most of society's norms and no go areas, but recently the dark side seems to be infiltrating the most innocent and civilised of normal interactions in seemingly every store, service or industry.

No matter how good you are at your job, or how beautiful your tatts are (and let's face it, most of them lack any imagination, wit or wisdom), surely they are there for your own private enjoyment and your loved ones, and not for the mass public? Or if you can't censor yourself, maybe your employer needs to censor you for the sake of the buying public. I have worked in marketing and branding all my adult life and I cannot comprehend how tattooed staffers add to the brand image (except for with other Gen Y's) but what about the rest of the buying public – don't we matter any more?

We seem to be seeing more tatts everywhere we turn and all the grown ups I talk to say the same as me – cover up! For work, at least. Work is where we clothe ourselves in respectability and cloak ourselves in professionalism. Is it too much to ask to cover up the skin art, and remove the studs and piercings for 8 hours a day?

Employers in shops and service industries are intent on paying the lowest possible dollar, so hiring younger (and younger!) people seems cost effective. But with their blank or surly expressions, lack of people skills or professionalism, and willingness to do only the bare minimum, what are they adding to the brand, business or customer experience? Not much!

Yes, I'm an old stick in the mud, but I would much rather be served by someone who appreciates their job, loves their work, is appropriately attired and gives a damn about anything other than their next text message, tweet of facebook feed . . .

Employers, take a leaf out of the Police employment rules – all tatts to be covered up during working hours. It shows respect for the workplace, customer, colleagues and business, let alone the little mites who ask in fear 'what is that on that man's leg, Mummy' and the poor harried Mother who has to try and explain away the incomprehensible.

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About the Author

Sophie Love has been involved in the advertising and media industries since the 1980's 'greed is good' heydays. British by birth, but Australian by choice, she is passionate about this beautiful sunburnt continent and re-connecting Australians to their literal roots - where their food comes from. She runs a farm, a family, and a marketing/design agency. In her free time (!) she likes to put pen to paper and share her thoughts about a wide variety of issues and modern day dilemmas. You can read more at

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