Tattoos used to have negative connotations, but thankfully, those stigmas have all but disappeared in the 21st century. In a city like Seattle, to have a tattoo is the norm and completely mainstream. What used to be an eyebrow raiser in mainstream circles is now fashionable, hip, and modern. In fact, I’m starting to think that in Seattle you stand out more if you don’t have a tattoo. 

There seem to be more tattoo parlours opening all the time. Both in the city, and further afield — these days you’ll find a tattoo parlour in the smallest and quietest little towns. There is also a growing trend of all-female tattoo artists and parlours in Seattle, which is fabulous and empowering for women entrepreneurs.

People wear clothing that showcase their tattoos because they are proud of them, and because the markings form an integral part of their style. I regularly do hot yoga, and most of the instructors and people in class are tattooed, some very heavily. Many of the sales assistants at the Nordstrom flagship in downtown Seattle are tattooed. It’s not unusual for your server at a fancy restaurant here to be quite heavily tattooed.

Four years ago, when I spoke to a few human resource managers from well-known Seattle companies about what to wear to an interview, we spoke about tattoos. Then, they strongly believed that tattoos should be covered during the interview process unless you were interviewing for a so-called “creative” profession. I don’t know where they stand on the subject today, but their opinions surprised me even then. Granted, some tattoos are easily covered by regular wardrobe items because of where they are positioned on the body. These days, visible tattoos are popular. Covering them to prevent unnecessary stigmas is a dated concept, and was never a measure of a person’s ability to do the job anyway.

I attended a women’s fashion event at Amazon a few weeks ago with about thirty employees in attendance. Many showcased a small tattoo, and some were heavily tattooed. It’s laughable to think that tattoos would prevent these capable software developers and program managers from getting a job.

I do not have a tattoo nor am I motivated to get one. They are too permanent for my liking. And too dark in colour to mesh with my crisp, dressy and soft style. That said, I am fascinated by tattoos and love looking at them. They are an impressive form of body art and self-expression. They can look incredibly beautiful and I’m in awe of the skill that goes into creating them. The techniques are rapidly improving and looking more sophisticated, detailed and colourful over time.

I’m also intrigued by the motivations behind the selection of a tattoo. I sometimes ask people about this and they’re always passionate and proud to tell me about the symbolic meanings of their tattoos. Many chose their designs with great forethought, nostalgia, and a whole lot of heart. That’s beautiful in itself, and reflects the “personal” in personal style.