Tattoo or not? The Windsors hired a subtly inked press officer

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL September 6, 2013

It’s an arresting headline. “Thugs and druggies’ – what job interviewers think when they see a tattoo”. The piece in The Daily Telegraph.

It cleverly adds that tattoos are a decided “advantage – if you want to become a prison officer”.

Why is this received wisdom now, barely seven months after Forbes magazine reassured 14 per cent of inked Americans that the tattoo was “no longer a kiss of death in the workplace”? They quoted a Bank of America spokesman, the CEO of a consulting company and the vice-president of a sporting goods retailer to say that atypical appearances are not considered more important than ability.

But now this new research presented to the British Sociological Association disses visible tattoos, saying that most would-be employers will secretly rule them out as looking “dirty” and “unsavoury” or even “repugnant”. Dr Andrew Timming of St Andrew’s University School of Management set out findings from a series of interviews on body art with managers from a hotel, a bank, a city council, prison, university and a bookseller.

There’s some concern about corporate image.

Time then to bring out my favorite story about tattoos and British royalty. As I have written  before, when I reported on these and other matters in London, I remember a remarkable press conference at Buckingham Palace. It was the first-of-its-kind and we were curious about the decision to invite the world’s media down to Buck House for tea and biscuits with no real story on the horizon. It was 2005 and the House of Windsor’s image had suffered greatly from all the Princess Diana revelations, the Charles and Camilla affair, Sarah Ferguson’s topless toe-sucking and so on and on. One of the press officers – a tall woman in a well-fitting skirt suit – sat at a long table facing the assembled journalists. I was riveted by her tattoo, an angel I think, on the inside of her thigh. It showed but barely when she sat down.

I have to say it looked perfectly proper. Subtle and rather charming.

So may be it’s not tattoos per se, just where, what, how many.

But then there’s ability too. She was clearly very good at her job. The Windsors are back to being a slightly boring set of toffs, complete with babies and balding pates.