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Why tattoos remain taboo in African set-up

By Winnie Onyando September 3rd, 2023 2 min read

In an African setting, Tattoos are associated with negative career outcomes, and those who have tattoos have often been stigmatized or subject to prejudice.

Historically, studies stated that tattooed people were seen as dishonest, unmotivated, and unintelligent.

Also, early research revealed that 80% of human resource managers voiced negative feelings about observable tattoos on potential employees.

Many organizations still have policies that require employees to have no visible tattoos or cover them whilst they are working.

While millennials strongly oppose tattoos, GenZ seems to embrace them as a significant aspect.

The younger generation values body modification as a form of beauty.

Many GenZ put so much value on showcasing their modifications on their socials although some have experienced regret over getting tattoos symbolizing past relationships that later ended.

Anne, a second-year university student in Nairobi, says, “I had always desired a tattoo, but my mother deemed it demonic and inappropriate for my body. While I respected her viewpoint, I couldn’t fully comprehend it. So, I got a tattoo on my shoulder.”

“My mother’s reaction wasn’t positive. She constantly nagged me about it,” Anne told Nairobi News.

Just like Anne’s parents, many parents dislike tattoos.

Many GenZ believes they possess the autonomy to make decisions about their bodies without interference but the majority are quickly hit with the societal reality surrounding tattoos, especially among the older generations.

The majority has been disregarded while seeking employment opportunities especially where the people hiring are millennials.

Unlike millennials, who were raised with firm opinions on issues like tattooing and body modification, a significant portion of GenZ takes a more open approach.

They explore different avenues to enhance personal happiness, irrespective of others’ opinions and prevailing beliefs.

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