Stories Written in Ink: Workplace Tattoos at Cartersville High


Presly Edwards, Writer

Tattoos have long been a thing of controversy and many have differing opinions on whether or not tattoos should be allowed in the workplace. Considered distractions, unprofessional, even sinful, the list of complaints vary. 

Many, however, believes tattoos are simply artistic expression. This reporter found many staff members at Cartersville High School sporting a canvas of meaningful, beautiful art. 

Anyone who has had science teacher, Mrs. Rigsby, knows she has tattoos — eight to be precise.  The ones on the tops of her feet, she says, were most painful.

Her most valuable, Rigsby says, would probably be a tie. “One is the paw print of my first rescue dog. I got him many years ago and had him for sixteen years. When he passed away, the place that took care of him took an impression of his paw and the tattoo artist took the impression and drew it out.”  The other is the one on her forearm — the Irish symbol for motherhood, in essence, a series of hearts that never end. On each side of the symbol she has the initials of her two sons.

As far as teaching with tattoos, Rigsby said, “Occasionally students will notice, and they do ask me things like [their] meaning and if they hurt.”

Mrs. Rigsby previously worked in business and said people in the business world are more traditional and judgmental, but she hasn’t experienced that at CHS. She says she sees tattoos as a way of “self expression, although they are permanent.”

Another employee sporting tattoos is Mrs. Nelson, in the counselor’s office. Nelson has one tattoo on her wrist that reads “faith” with two dots, symbolizing her parents. When asked about the meaning of her tattoo, Nelson replied, “My mother passed away very unexpectedly on January 3, 2012. Four years after, my father took his own life. My dad was a minister and it was a very very difficult time in my life. I wanted to get something just to kind of make me think of them.”

As far as stereotyping people with tattoos, Mrs. Nelson said, “I think that is a terrible stereotype. There are plenty of great people in this world … covered in tattoos. I think it is a way of expressing yourself and most people that have tattoos, their tattoo tells a story.”

If you know Mrs. Veiga in Graphic Design, it’s no surprise that her tattoo is a cross over a rainbow. It was done personally by her daughter and Veiga explains, “There’s a lot of significance to it, but everyone knows I love color. There’s been a lot of changes in my life. I got divorced. [At the time of the tattoo] I was engaged. There were a lot of changes going on for the better and all of that was based around our faith.” She and her daughter both got tattoos as a reminder to keep going.

Mrs. Veiga explains the placement of her tattoo is “purposeful” and adds, “Most kids know what it means. And most know what’s been going on in my life, and they know that I am finally happy.”

Lastly I took to the lunchroom to see if the ladies there had some art of their own. They did not disappoint: one had three tattoos, two had six, and one had thirty eight.

Tiffany Tallent, the cafeteria manager, said her most valuable one is on her forearm. It’s her astrology sign (Capricorn) and the constellation of Aries, which is her sobriety date.

Along with that, Jessica Lee said the most meaningful to her was the one on her shoulder for her parents who passed away.

When asked about getting more tattoos, all except one woman immediately answered with a”Yes.” 

Said Lee, “I have set dates. My best friend is a tattoo artist and it’s usually every month, or every six months that I get a tattoo.”

The ladies joked around when asked about their thoughts on whether or not people with tattoos are “bad people,” but Lee, on a more serious note said, “98% of the time that is not correct.”

Tallent followed up with “I don’t think people with tattoos are any different than people without. I just know personally, every tattoo that I have, I was going through something in my life at that time, so it’s very symbolic and meaningful to me…  I always wonder what other people were going through when they got theirs.”

One of the most compelling stories involving personal tattoos came from Lee, who explained, “I get tattooed every Friday the 13th since I’ve been old enough to be tattooed. Every single Friday the 13th, the same person does it and I go with somebody I’ve never been with. I always remember who I was with and where I was, so I think that’s kind of special.”

When asked advice for people considering tattoos, everyone said consider carefully, and because it is permanent, make it meaningful. 

When all was said and done, all those interviewed said they have never felt judged at CHS for their tattoos.  If anything, they said their coworkers ask about their tattoos in a positive manner.

Typically, tattoos are more common and more accepted in the workplace now than they once were. The stereotype that people with tattoos are “dangerous” or “scary” is a thing of the past.

Tattoos are a beautiful form of self-expression and storytelling. Ask somebody about theirs today.