The Vida Loca Interviews Series. Pt 1 Everlasting Job Stoppers
Does a visible tattoo mean the end of a career as we know it? In this series of interviews, our man Tony Jones speaks to tattoo fans about getting ink above the collar and below the cuff. In part two, we speak to Dr C, a consultant psychiatrist about her visible tattoos and her decision to have her hand tattooed in the near future.
VIDA LOCA: I know from your job title and our conversations that you're at quite a senior level in your profession. Are there many tattooed folk in your professional peer group?
Dr. C: At my current workplace there are colleagues with tattoos, but none visible at work. Within my specific doctor peer group of those mid 40s and above I would not expect to find many with tattoos, but I could be wrong. Interestingly, like most things, once there has been some disclosure then more people are happy to reveal their tattoos.
As a doctor I have a responsibility to my patients, colleagues and the general public. I have reached the top rung of my career ladder and could potentially remain in my current post, as a hospital consultant psychiatrist specialising in drug addiction, until I retire. This does mean that I don’t need to worry much about career progression, but I still worry about being viewed negatively.
VIDA LOCA: What tattoos do you have at the moment and are they visible to the people you work with?
Dr. C: I have 4 tattoos currently. The two on my forearms are visible when I wear short sleeves but I choose not to display them to my colleagues and patients. I have almost exclusively shown them to those whom I know enjoy tattoos.
VIDA LOCA: Having decided to have your hand tattooed, what are you getting and by whom?
Dr. C: I am awaiting a draft design and am very keen to see this before I make the journey to Barcelona. Jondix is the artist and the studio is LTW (Love the World).
VIDA LOCA: Given the amount of available skin you have, why are you so compelled to get such a visible piece?
Dr. C: I have been fascinated by hand and neck tattoos for some time. Jondix has an incredible portfolio, a spiritual angle and a history of tattooing on hands. They are symbolic tattoos, in black, with extraordinary designs and geometric patterns.
I have always had a mild 'rebel without a cause' desire to shock, but, paradoxically, would not want to upset anyone. The latter becomes more profound as I get older. Of course I want people to see and admire a tattoo on my hand, but at work I want to maintain some anonymity and be judged only on my clinical skills, i.e. my ability to treat patients in a compassionate and helpful manner. My worry is that people invest too many view tattoos negatively.
VIDA LOCA: How do you think your employers and colleagues will react and are you concerned at all?
Dr. C: The closer it gets to my tattoo the more real my concerns become. As a doctor I am here to listen to others and treat them well. I do not want to distract from that focus and my current thinking is that I will likely wear a tubigrip on my hand while at work. It may be that I just do that when working with patients and not in the management side of my role.
VIDA LOCA: If you foresee any negative reactions, how do you think you will address them?
Dr. C: In my altruistic way of thinking I would like to get colleagues to challenge their own attitudes. What is so upsetting about a piece of inoffensive and potentially beautiful artwork on the body? Henna tattoos for cultural reasons do not raise such negative views to my knowledge. Is it the permanence? Is it the historical memory that tattoos are only held by those viewed negatively by society and seen to be of a lower social class? Who knows?
VIDA LOCA: How do you reconcile the risks with the rewards?
Dr. C: It is something that is personally very important to me. It will be the imagery I focus on when under pressure, when looking to relax and clear my head and something I hope to be proud of.
VIDA LOCA: Do you think an EJS will be an issue should you ever apply for work elsewhere?
Dr. C: I think it would influence people, albeit unspoken. I have to admit I would probably cover up my hand for any interviews. I do currently hide the tattoos on my forearm. I would now never wear short sleeves at work. Thankfully I am not working in general medicine where short sleeves are an enforced dress code as a way to reduce the spread of infection.