Tattooed & Pierced Educators Overseas

What we in the West have come to accept as a simple body adornment may well create the wrong impression on the first day at an International School in a foreign land. Over the years ISR has visited the topic of tattoos. We revisit the topic here with the addition of the ever more popular body piercings.

Cultural norms die hard. Ingrained perceptions of the types of people who wear tattoos & body piercings don’t change in an instant. Adornments in some societies can & will be interpreted as the mark of an unsavory class, not the type of person parents want exposed to their kids. In other societies, piercings & tattoos may be perfectly acceptable.

As an adorned educator, making a poor first impression is the last thing any of us need. Depending on where in the world you’re teaching, it could be wise to first earn the respect of students/parents & later reveal your “artistic side.” This approach should go further to assuring acceptance than simply strutting your stuff on day one & thinking you’ll transcend cultural norms because you’re “the educator from the West.” This approach has worked for more than one educator.

ISR asks: What’s the current level of acceptance of tattoos & piercings in the International School arena? If you’re an educator with body adornments, How did YOU approach revealing them to parents & students, if at all?

Please scroll down to participate in this ISR Discussion

5 thoughts on “Tattooed & Pierced Educators Overseas

  1. I would not hire someone covered in nose rings and tattoos. In some cultures the parents would complain. Secondly, parents want teachers to be role models and not end up covered in tats and piercings.


  2. I think it is important to get the balance right – a face covered in metal, would potentially be distracting for students, a few piercings on the other hand are fine.

    It’s a bit like tattoos, if it was a spiderweb on the face, it would be too distracting for students. A tramp stamp on the lower back that sometimes shows, or some weird drunken hand tattoo is fine.

    Much like hair colour – as long as the hair colour doesn’t disturb learning then it shouldn’t matter for adults to children


    1. Some of these comments are ridiculous, non inclusive and sexist (“tramp stamp”, really Prez)


  3. I have a number of tattoos and two piercings. I don’t wear my piercings in school or around town for that matter. The looks and stares made it clear that piercings were not the in thing to do. Tattoos on the other hand have become a fashion statement in my opinion. Why piercings are frowned on is anyone’s guess.


  4. Generally speaking, European host countries pay little mind to tattoos and piercings, within reason. Face or neck tattoos, or oversized septum piercings would garner unwelcome attention. Parents in some corners of East Asia frown on tattoos, but a good school will advocate for their teachers.


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