31-year-old Kathy-Rose Bullen, from Melbourne, was looking for a career change which would allow her to ‘make a difference’ while keeping fit, and thought joining the police force could suit her perfectly.
Speaking to news.com.au, Kathy-Rose said:
I’ve got family in the police force and they said they love it and couldn’t recommend it enough, as the job is fantastic and they believed I would be really good at it if I wanted to pursue it.
It’s only in the past couple of weeks I began physically training and trying to push myself a bit harder to do it.
However, once Kathy-Rose began looking at specific entry requirements, she realised her ink could prove to be an issue. Although the Victoria Police force do allow officers to have body art, tattoos on hands, necks and faces are a strict no-no.
Kathy-Rose completely respected the requirements set out by Victoria police, but still – understandably – felt a little disheartened. And it’s a feeling many of us looking to find meaningful work will have experienced at one time or another.
I’ve always had good jobs but not an actual career, and it’s a bit disappointing and disheartening that it’s 2019 and [tattoos] are still a bit of an issue.
It’s disappointing that [a police career] is something I can’t pursue… but I wouldn’t change a thing. I feel like changing yourself physically — unless it’s exercise — just isn’t worth it, and I’ve never been rejected by any employer before based on my appearance.
I do understand it is written [in the policy] but it is a bit hurtful as there are tattooed officers out there who cover up — just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean they’re not there.
On the one hand, tattoos are a popular means of expression nowadays, and it feels rather outdated to discriminate on these grounds.
However, as others have argued, professions such as law enforcement need to maintain a certain dress code in order to elicit high levels of respect and authority among members of the public.
According to a 2018 study from the University of Miami Business School and the University of Western Australia Business School, perceptions of tattoos at work have shifted significantly in recent years, to the extent whereby visible ink is no longer linked to individual employment or pay discrimination.
Data collected from over 2,000 participants across each of the 50 American states found the annual earnings of inked employees were ‘indistinguishable’ from those without tattoos.
However, those currently eyeing up new body art should still think twice before having it placed somewhere prominent. With professions such as police work, having a visible tattoo could well affect your chances of success no matter how capable you might be.
Despite having no plans to have her own body art removed, Kathy-Rose has since urged others to think carefully about how a simple tat could leave you out of the running for certain jobs before you even apply.