Judging people with unfortunate tattoo choices?

I’m hoping this doesn’t turn into another “I hate all tattoos and don’t think anyone should get them at all” threads, but I just ran across this localish Mensa member and am thinking about the chances of his ever having a normal job or social life solely because of his tattoo (and ignoring his actual criminal activities.)

So I’m just kind of wondering–is it okay to shut someone out of employment forever, or should employers accept an employee with a handgun tattooed across their forehead (or similarly “in your face” tattoos) forgiving them for their poor fashion choices in their youth?
I’m personally in the “this guy made his choice, let him sleep in it” category.

To be honest, someone with a tattoo of a gun on his face probably isn’t going to be customer facing. I wouldn’t have a problem hiring this guy to be a mechanic or a welder, for examples.

it’s not a matter of, “Gee, he’s been ‘punished’ enough, now let’s be nice and hire him.” It’s a matter of company image as projected through its employees. A tattoo with a gun across your forehead is not acceptable … EVER. Ten years from now; twenty; fifty, it makes no difference.

This guy is a member of Mensa, and he was dumb enough to tattoo a gun on his forehead? :confused: I guess Mensa isn’t what it used to be.

Well, in this guy’s case, he’s likely a felon since he’s not allowed a gun. He likely has a DUI since he had a suspended license. He’s back in jail again. I really think the tattoo is the least of his issues regarding having a stable and prosperous future.

That said, I don’t think a tattoo should impact your future. A tattoo is a particularly foolish way to stumble in your youth, but the reality is that we have all done stupid things as young adults that we wish we could take back. A bad tattoo is not the worst decision that a 19-year-old can make, it’s just a particularly visible one that lasts a long time. So, in my ideal world, he should be employable based upon his current merits and not upon his past mistakes.

Uh…I would be perpetually worrying if he was going to take out a real gun and rob me of all the mechanic and welding shit in my shop, so … yeah, no. On the other hand, I’ve known cons who’ve turned it around. If I had a heart to heart with this guy, believed what he said (even though that’s a tall order because the kind of dude who’s been ‘in it’ to the point that he has a fucking gun on his face is going to be more suave and persuasive than you’d expect when it comes to convincing other people to help him), AND got some neutral third parties to vouch for him…maybe. MAYBE. I might give him a window of time to get the damn tattoo removed from his face before I hired him. Or have it altered by the tattooist into a…wrench or welding tool or something.

In the first paragraph, the OP (kind of) asked us to ignore the criminal charges and judge solely on the tattoo (or the thought processes which led to the tattoo).

I’m okay with tattoos, as long as they can be covered up with long sleeved shirt and pants.

Face/neck tattoos are utterly stupid and I would never hire someone that had one.

I clicked on some bait once, regarding a guy complaining that his tattoo caused people to be “prejudiced” against him, and he couldn’t find a job. I had to click through to see the tattoo. He had a skull tattooed over half his face. Imagine if you were in a car accident, and regained consciousness to see the EMT working on you with a tattoo like that?

I mean, you really don’t want the face of your business to be the face of death. He’s not going to get any job where he’s the first person the public deals with. He’s never going to sell cars, or be a bank teller. He’s not going to get any kind of job in healthcare.

I don’t know what sorts of jobs he was applying for, but unless none of them required any contact with the public, it doesn’t surprise me that he wasn’t getting any callbacks.

It’s one thing to have a bias against people for things they can’t control, like a disability, or their race, but a facial tattoo is something a person has control over. Something that will offend or frighten customers is a reasonable bias. It doesn’t matter that it may have been a youthful indiscretion. I know a lot of people who got tattoos at age 19 that might not be the best subject matter, but were at least smart enough to get them where clothes cover them.

Asking someone to just judge a guy by the gun tattooed on his face and ignore his criminal charges, is like asking to judge a guy by the dick tattooed on his face and ignore his sexual attitudes.

All other things being equal, I would hire the guy without the forehead gun. If forehead gun was the better choice on paper (CV without picture) I’d give him a chance. Sure I’d double check his references and make sure his personality had developed into something sharply contrasting with the forehead gun, but if his face wasn’t going to influence his ability to do his job, why hire someone less qualified?

That said, I find it likely forehead guns are correlated strongly with being the less attractive option in a lot of categories besides “not having a face tattoo”.

FTR, tattoos are removable. It isn’t cheap, but joblessness is more expensive. The choice of having one in a visible place is a choice to be seen in a certain way. Don’t ask not to be judged while you’re *demanding *to be judged. People do judge, of course, and the ones who claim not to are lying.


I have worn long hair for decades, at times in multiple colors, and my facial piercings are in the (low) double digits. As with my sartorial choices, I have no illusions that how I dress and present myself sends a message. I have long accepted this; I am judged on my appearance, as are we all.

I have numerous tattoos. They send a message. Admittedly, the message my ink and my dress convey is different in Portland than it might be in Sheboygan, but they nonetheless open me to judgment. I long ago made a decision to stop my sleeves at mid-forearm and my back and chest tattoos below the collarbone, because wearing visible, above-the-neck ink does not convey a message I wish to convey. (Conversely, I do have a wrist tattoo that I *deliberately *placed to be visible in my work attire.)

Just because a tattoo is permanent does not excuse it, or its owner, from judgment. Is it right, or fair, or kind to judge someone harshly, to exclude them from employment, to ostracize them, based on a facial tattoo of any sort? Maybe not. But it happens. And more so, as in this case, when the message is deliberately intended to invite a very particular form of judgment.

Still working on my caffeine levels this morning, but I guess my point is that yeah–this guy made his bed, he’s lying in it. I’m totally fine with his being refused employment for his past decisions.

I see a LOT of facial tattoos, since all my patients are in a maximum security prison. Swastikas are quite popular, but so are guns, knives, teardrops, obscenities, and rude/sexual gestures/images.

The gents with these types of facial tattoos are pretty well marginalized to the worst levels of society, even more so than my average patient. Longer sentences, more violent histories, starker backgrounds bereft of resources or guidance.

While I can’t say for sure regarding cause and effect, I tend to feel that the folks that made these choices were pretty prone to bad choices even before they got the tat. But the choice of tattoo probably does reduce their chance of getting demarginalized, and ups the odds that LEOs and other folks in authority will react negatively to them. So then they come visit me, tats and all.

Maybe it would be cheaper to have a holster tattooed over it.

I’m just going to chalk that up as conclusions based on unrepresentative samples. You clearly don’t have daily interaction with all the captains of industry, archbishops, supreme court justices, theoretical physicists, and singer/songwriters who live happy lives with lewd and offensive facial tattoos. No, you just see the bad ones. Don’t judge a book by its Nazi symbology!

(Yes, I’m joking.)

I not only judge people with bad images for tats, I judge them for bad Art for their tats. Either example tells me all I need to know about the person and they will never be working for me in any capacity. Yes, I am shallow and judgmental. I can live with it.

Heh. The stereotypic coverup is an 8ball, but that deserves some appreciation.

I have many tattoos, none above the collarbone, but I wouldn’t shy away from face/neck art that I really liked. I have numerous piercings both above and below the neck.

As a small business owner I’ve always gone out of my way to hire applicants who were modded and I’ve been pleased with the outcome overall. That said, I do not think that those with facial tattoos should be made a protected class.

Employers should be able to make the determination whether a guy with gun tatooted on his forehead would be a wise hiring decision.

Personally, I would feel comfortable not hiring such a person–regardless of their qualifications–because it would be an unnecessary distraction to introduce into the workplace. I also would wonder what other kinds of WTF? choices he’s made or is likely to make in the future, that could negatively impact my place of business.

Someone with a tatoo like that is telling the world, intentionally or not, that they highly prioritize their right to self-expression no matter how unconventional and provocative that is. That’s great and all, but the world is free to judge them for how they express themselves. It’s the other side of the coin to freedom of speech.

I hate all tattoos and don’t think anyone should get them at all.

But I also feel the same way about a traditional single piercing per ear in women - and realize that my personal tastes are not really a sound basis for making judgements about somebody else’s choices.

However, my (crude) estimations about society’s tastes are a sound basis for making judgements about somebody else’s choices. Nobody could reasonably expect to be judged based on my (extremely picky) personal taste, but I’m hardly the only person who thinks that a gun face tattoo is off-putting - honestly you’d be hard-pressed to convince me that being off-putting wasn’t his intent. And far be it from me to deny him the satisfaction of achieving the tattoo’s explicit goal.

As for the idea of it being an indiscretion of youth, well, it’s up to him to correct his earlier indiscretions to the best of his ability. If he made such a mess of himself he can’t possibly correct it, well…he’s not the only person in history who’s sunk his own boat.

Will professional tattoo artists caution their clients on a possibly ill-advised tattoo?


Artist: “Hey man, I am happy to give you the tattoo you have requested but I have to ask if you are a 100% sure about this. A tattoo of a gun on your face might cause you some hassles down the road and I would personally advise against it.”

I’ve never gotten a tattoo so I do not know how they would (generally) react to something like this.