So we all know hipsters. We all know hipsters are the millennial counterparts to the baby boomers’ hippie movement, (hell, it’s in the name) and we certainly all know hipsters like tattoos to go with their giant beards (a lá Steve), plaid shirts, craft beers, cuffed jeans, sustainable agriculture, small business and fixed gear bicycles. As much as many of us hate to admit it, the author included, we publicly deride the whole brood and then secretly order moustache wax on Amazon then feel remorse for not taking the time to find organic, locally-produced, bee-friendly, small batch moustache wax from a recently revived centuries’ old recipe handed down from hipster to hipster before reclaiming an old fire house as a store front. Nailed it. Anyways, what you may not have realized is how the whole hipster movement is permanently changing the face (and body) of the American work force.
I went to a small, all male Catholic high school in the new hipster haven of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The school’s mission was to turn boys into men, real fucking men. We wore ties, facial hair was unacceptable, hair could not extend beyond the shirt collar or cover your ears; this was how successful business men looked. It has been eight years since I graduated from that school, and in that mere eight years the young American worker looks very different. Aforementioned tattoos and beards, and here-mentioned piercings and other types of body modification are becoming the standard for the young Americans. What is amazing is that instead of tattoos being a mark of minimum wage, as my uncle used to say, they are becoming increasingly common among educated professionals. Doctors, lawyers, financiers, people we sometimes quite literally trust with our lives, are inked. Keep in mind, I don’t mean that tattoo you got when you and your girlfriends had a few too many margaritas at happy hour, and you picked out that cute little Garfield from the book, but you like totes made it your own because you added a heart with your mom’s initials (she loves Garfield).
My theory, go ahead and knock it, on why this is becoming accepted is because hipsters have something the hippie movement didn’t quite have, which is a global niche. The tech community has offered an increasingly young workforce that thrives on new ideas and fresh minds, and the very people who founded the movement recognize that. While the industry is controlled by the multi-billion dollar giants, young start-ups can change the landscape on their own, using the foundations of the big companies. One app idea can make any skinny kid with vintage sunglasses a millionaire overnight.
Another factor is that an increasingly global community has helped many small communities, including every small corner of large cities, return to being just that, small communities. This may sound counterintuitive, but the instant access to information allows the quick spread of ideas across the globe, and increasingly allows people the freedom to be their own boss by creating or filling a niche in their own community. The hipster movement, as a whole, has also taken on the local business initiative; a historically common trait among the young, liberal demographic. By creating small communities in which they play an active role, young entrepreneurs can become known among their community of friends, and not have to worry about their appearance affecting customer loyalty.
As this trend gains momentum, it’s inspiring professionals who work in mainstream industries and settings to get ink of their own. Adam, a teacher at a private high school in an upper class community has a 3/4 sleeve extending down his forearm which is typically visible to students, other teachers, and parents. He says, “99% of the reactions are positive or curious, and the very few negative ones have not been detrimental to my career. Even the parents think it’s cool!”. Another source wishing to remain anonymous states that he works for a multi-billion dollar, international company managing a large team of consultants. He has two half-sleeves, a chest piece, and full intentions to continue getting tattooed. Of people seeing his tattoos in a professional setting he says it “…both intrigues and confuses my clients and competition. It does not make me a more aggressive leader, or a better person…thus my body is my body and the colors and lines are mine alone.” My belief is that the ultimate sign of acceptance is indifference, as with other social issues, when they are accepted among the general population they are no longer a significant topic for general discussion. Certainly since tattoos can be so personal and often have cryptic meaning, they will always be a source of curiosity, so this may not hold true.
The obvious benchmark is when people see a change in the hiring process. Most companies have a defined policy on tattoos, and many are fairly accepting. The vast majority of companies will not discriminate in the hiring process, so long as the tattoos can be covered. Other companies permit tattoos to be visible as long as the content is not offensive or that the amount of visible artwork does not “exceed the social norm”, a phrase with quite a large amount of corporate wiggle room. I would say even with changing landscapes it’s probably wise not to get “Fuck Da Police” tattooed on your face before applying to medical school. As we see this sharp increase in tattoo acceptance, and it truly feels sharp, we can only assume that not only will we be seeing tattoos on more people, but more tattoos on those people. Thus, after the handlebars are snipped from the moustache, and the Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes limited edition vinyl starts to wear, and somebody finally gets that fucking 99% guy to shower, the fading ink of a thousand geometric mandalas will be a generation’s permanent reminder that, like every generation before us, for a decade or so, we too were idiots. Always remember…we can embrace the hipster, or go back to these douchebags…
Pick your poison internet…