By Sarah Wroblewski
As a student of the Lee Honors College at Western Michigan University, I am required to complete a thesis in order to graduate. Much like my major, I had a hard time deciding what my thesis would be on.
It wasn’t until one day while I was getting ready for work that an idea came to me. After switching outfits multiple times, I finally found one that worked. It was suitable until I turned around in the mirror. My tattoo was showing. When I say it was showing perhaps a centimeter was visible, one centimeter too much.
I thought about how unfair this was considering my boss has his wedding band tattooed on his finger because he does not like wearing jewelry. It was frustrating to me that he had a tattoo that signified such an important commitment, yet a glimpse of my tattoo was taboo.
After a phone call to my parents sharing my epiphany, I decided to go with my idea about the stigma of tattoos in the workplace. Knowing I would be going to San Francisco soon, I wanted to grab the chance to look at how the community out west saw tattoos differently.
While in San Francisco, the culture around tattoos was so accepting and even welcoming. It was a great conversation starter and mutual connection. Often times when I asked individuals if I could photograph their tattoos for my thesis about stigma, they would exclaim “Why?! What’s wrong with them?”
I found that in San Francisco individuals choose to get tattoos that others can see rather than in hiding them like in Kalamazoo. This is because everyone, not just the owner, sees tattoos as a meaningful tribute to an individual’s life. A piece of art that they want to have as a daily reminder when they look in the mirror.
If you are in San Francisco check out Dream Masters Custom Tattoos!