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Local opinion columnists

Think before you ink

By From page A8 | January 12, 2013

Over the past 10 years or so, the body-art craze has intensified among this generation of youth. The tattoo obsession is hindering young people’s capacity to find work and disqualifying them from career opportunities.

In recent years, tattoos have also become a fashion accessory – and even a necessity to some. It has become a trend that is fueled by professional athletes, music artists and celebrities.

A report by the Food and Drug Administration estimated that as many as 45 million Americans have tattoos. The report based the number on the finding by a Harris Interactive poll in that 16 percent of adults and 36 percent of people 25 to 29 had at least one tattoo.

A recent poll also found that 17 percent of tattooed Americans regretted it. A tattoo that cost several hundred dollars could require several thousand dollars and many laser sessions to remove.

Working with today’s youth, I have encountered so many young people who regret things that they have done in their teen years, now that they are adults. Many youth workers and experts agree that the biggest mistakes of a person’s life happen between the ages of 16 and 24. If young folks could just take the time to think beyond their immediate desire and consider the long-term effect of their decisions, they would be much better off.

In an already-frugal job market, visible tattoos have become one of the most common employment barriers facing young job seekers, along with having a criminal record. Several young individuals are in this predicament due to following the trend of body art or excessive tattoos. I had a recent conversation with several local young men regarding their career direction. They were sharing with me the challenges that they are having finding work and how they are no longer eligible for several jobs due to the amount and location of their tattoos.

An Armijo High graduate spent the past several years pursuing a rap-music career. In doing so, he fell to the temptation and pressure of developing a genuine “hip-hop image” by obtaining several visible tattoos. Now with a son and the need for gainful employment, he talked about the frustration he is experiencing. With visible tattoos on his neck and hands he is no longer eligible for any military branch, some  law enforcement agencies and could be even denied certain front-line civilian positions.

Many companies have policies on visible tattoos that may prevent a person from being hired or placed in certain positions.

In an extremely superficial society where you are  still judged by the length of your hair, the sound of your name and the color of your skin, it is in your best interest to be very careful not to add any other reason to be prejudged.

The most common argument in support of the popular trend of body art is that it’s your body  and it’s your way of demonstrating self-expression. My response to that is to ask how much are we willing to make a fashion statement or personal expression if it may also limit your capacity to make a living? At what cost are we willing to use our body as a platform to make a statement?

Taking the time to think before making a decision that could be permanent is simply a wise thing to do. Unfortunately, for this youth generation, wisdom is an elusive trait that must be given by someone else.

Here is a simple hidden jewel: “Think before you ink!”

Deon D Price is a youth life skills coach and freelance writer. He can be reached at [email protected] or follow him at www.twitter.com/youthgeneration.

Deon Price


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