Getting De-Inked: Why Jamaicans Are Rethinking Their Tattoos

The love affair some Jamaicans have with tattoos appears to be fading with more persons who are seeking to enter the job market regretting the decision to get inked.  Some young job seekers are being rejected because of large visible tattoos.

Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

The country’s affinity to tattoo culture is influenced by several factors. Erin MacLeod, a lecturer in the Department of Cultural Studies at the University of the West Indies (UW), Mona states, “A lot of the tattoos in Jamaica are related to communities and the idea of being a part of a community…I think of course, most famously, the dancehall DJ Vybz Kartel drew a lot of attention to tattooing in wanting to make his body, as he puts it, ‘a colouring book’ and expressing himself through the tattooing.”

Sporting a groovy ink during a holiday or in school is hip, a means to express one’s slf or make a statement. Tattoos are also symbols of love, spirituality, and religion. Now, more people want their tattoos removed to be compliant with employers’ requirements and for others, to be liberated from their past.


The Psychology of tattoo removal

Whereas before, tattoos honoured a person, expressed a philosophy or symbol, their removal can serve the opposite functions:  to take away reminders of what were once amazing relationships, beliefs or convictions.  Unfortunately, in the real world where rules are enforced, tattoos are barriers to getting employed prompting applicants to make a beeline for tattoo removal parlours or shops.

The Jamaica Constabulary Force, fast food establishments, and security agencies are some employers that do not support tattoos, especially large and visible ones. What were once fashionable body adornments during youthful times can suddenly become obstacles in securing work. Even some schools do not accept students with tattoos making them candidates for expulsion if no attempt is made to remove them.

Removal costs are prohibitive

Because of these restrictions in the labour sector, many regret getting their tattoos. Fortunately, removal of tattoos is possible. The downside is, it can prove to be expensive. It can cost JMD 7,100 or US$59 per session as published on internet websites. Plus, you need to care for the skin by moisturizing and keeping it clean to avoid infections.

Dermatologist Consultant Dr. Patricia Dunwell is quoted by The Gleaner as saying, “Persons are having regrets but, in addition to that, there has been an increase in the number of schools sending in students to get tattoos removed because they are not accepting it. It takes a long time to be removed…..but schools are adamant that visible tattoos will not be accepted.”

Tattoo removal is an option with a high price tag. There are also special techniques involved in tattoo removal. It is not only the price that is prohibitive but it also requires time. Depending on the extent of your tattoo, you might have to come back for several sessions. 


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