Already when reading the headline above, many within and outside the tattooed community, may be confused perhaps even outraged. Especially among the US tattoo lovers, people reading this may be very outraged, but settle down, you may learn something quite interesting.
Capitalism Loves Uniformity and Streamlining:
A fundamental and very easily observable fact about capitalism as a phenomenon, economic, cultural and political model, is that it does not like taking it’s time, nor does it care to constantly reflect and investigate, before doing anything.
Capitalism, as has been made clear by historians, sociologists, economists and so on, ever since Max Weber and Karl Marx’s time, but also in newer days by men like David Harvey and sociologists such as Ulrich Beck and Zygmunt Bauman, loves to move quickly and it thrives within a uniformed system, where there isn’t much room for variety nor change.
A fact which Weber talks in length about many many decades ago, in his theory on the “Iron Cage of Bureaucracy”. But the sociologist George Ritzer also explained it at length in his work on what he coined as Macdonaldization.
Reducing people to numbers, demanding dress codes, creating a uniform culture where what you like is constantly judged by others, within a norm based mainstream society. That is what capitalism wants and craves, for it to functional without being impeded.
A society where you don’t stop and actually meet others or reflect upon who you met or why they may be the way they are, or do the things they do. A society where you weigh everyone the same, based on what you need for your company and for the market to grow, then their self-identity can be damned. It is all about the resumé so to speak, and if you fit it and don’t force too much attention away from your abilities (by perhaps being different from the rest of your potential colleagues), then you are golden in the eyes of capitalism.
Tattoos are Inherently Anti-Capitalist:
Now as I have talked about before, tattoos anchor your (embodied-)Identity, good or bad, whether you like it or not. But this changes the rules, when it comes to the performative nature of self-identity and social interaction (see Erving Goffman on his writings on social interaction). In so far as tattoos will always be there, no matter how many times you change in and out of a uniform, no matter what occasion you dress for, what you do with your hair and so forth. Tattoos will always be there, and if they are visible, then they will always catch the eye of others.
This is important to note, when comparing it to what I just wrote about capitalism. Because this nature of tattoos, forces you to stand out (mainly if they are easily visible), whether people like it or not. Perhaps one of the many reason’s they are still and very sadly discriminated within the job market, is for this reason exactly. Because this works against that core ideal of capitalism, where you just sit down, leave yourself at home, wearing your uniform (whether it is an official one, or just following company dresscode), and do your job, no fuss, no drawing attention, just work.
Tattoos constantly enable the wearer to take a piece of themselves with them, even to work. Thus it also forces other people, to stop and perhaps think about more, instead of merely viewing you as just another co-worker, number, asset etc. You can’t in the same way hide or camouflage yourself, you don’t just slit into your little predefined section the same, as your non tattooed colleagues, as you proudly fly your colours through your tattoos (something which I have argued before will actually make you a better employee, cause it may empower your sense of self and confidence, but I digress).
Thus tattoos are anti-capitalist, in the sense that they defy the demanded uniformity, which capitalism craves to thrive unimpeded. And thank fuck for that (sorry for swearing), cause it is a very quiet (so to speak) revolution, a way of reclaiming the self, even within the workplace. Tattoos become a way of saying; “I may be forced by the circumstances of society to work more than most previous generations ever did, but you cannot make me peel away my own identity”.
This is perhaps yet another reason, especially smaller companies today, that may pride themselves on not just being capitalist or focused on numbers, should always allow their employees to embody themselves freely (as long as they can fulfill their work duties). Because it exactly reinforces this focus on people, rather than just profit, as well as promoting an inclusive work environment, where people can be themselves and freely immerse themselves within their work.
I hope you enjoyed reading this, within these horrible COVID-19 times, maybe you will think about this when we start returning to our jobs, all around the world.
We should all be more inclusive and remember, your tattoos are in a way, a silent little revolution (at least they can be), so wear them with pride.
All the best Tattoo Logia.