The Vermont Connection


Tattoos are often deemed as unprofessional in many career elds, includ- ing higher education. They carry stigmas linked to rebellion, “trashiness”, and a lack of re nement, and professionals who have tattoos either feel a need, or are asked, to conceal them. This article addresses the stigma surrounding tattoos in higher education and provides a lens through which tattoos can instead be appreciated as a way to navigate through identity development and healing from trauma. Because student identity development is a signi cant focus within student affairs and higher education, it is important for student affairs professionals to understand how tattoos are often connected to identity and experience. The role of acceptance and pride in identity development further necessitates that the stories behind tattoos are acknowledged and celebrated. Re ecting upon the relationship between my tattoos and my queer and trans identities, I share the experiences and emotions that have shaped my process of obtaining tattoos. Through my narrative, I hope to show that tattoos can challenge hegemonic ideals of professionalism and have value not only as art, but as a means of expressing self-work and self-care.