CORNER BROOK — Trina Simms has never been asked to cover up her tattoos, but still makes a conscious effort to do so while at work.
Simms is a Crown attorney with the province.
"I have no problem, I don't mind covering them up," she said.
The question of is it OK to ask or tell people to cover up their tattoos while at work generated a lot of discussion this week after it was reported that the City of Medicine Hat, Alta. brought in a policy banning visible tattoos and piercings for its police officers.
Around the office, Simms said she will wear short-sleeved shirts that make some of her eight tattoos visible, but once she goes into court she covers them up with a jacket.
"I'm in a profession where there is a bit of dress code and there's a bit of respect and deference expected, so I don't really take issue with that."
But she does take issue with people who judge her because of her tattoos.
Simms once had a member of the public make a complaint about it, basically saying that it was unprofessional.
"I took more issue with the complaint because I felt it was more a judgment of character than anything," she said. "It had nothing to do with the job I was doing. They made an assumption that I was a particular kind of person because I had tattoos."
Simms said she found the reaction to the issue in Medicine Hat on Twitter interesting and a lot of it echoed how she feels.
"Tattoos are so mainstream these days that I think it's more close minded of people to say, 'oh well that's unprofessional, tattoos will never be professional.' If someone could articulate what is unprofessional about it I'd love to hear it, but I don't think to say automatically that's unprofessional. ... They can't tell me not to dye my hair, so why could they say don't paint something on your skin."
As a guidance counsellor on the southwest coast Mike Fennell keeps his tattoos covered most of the time.
From Monday to Thursday it's long-sleeved, button-downed shirts, even though he's never been asked to cover them up.
"They'd only be visible in school on casual Fridays when I wear a T-shirt," Fennell said.
Students treat it matter-of-factly when they see them and will tell Fennell of tattoos their parents have.
Fennell actually considers some of his tattoos, a barbed wire and a mountain lion, silly and said he takes a bit of ribbing from friends about them.
But as for being asked to cover them up, Fennell sees it as unnecessary.
"Really nowadays, because it's so commonplace for people to have tattoos." he said. "This day and age to still be fussing over something like that I think is a little bit unnecessary."
Dustin Emberley is about to graduate from the Atlantic Police Academy in P.E.I. He has about 12 tattoos and said they have never been an issue in his training.
"I've never been told that we've ever had to hide them. In my class I'm not the only one with tattoos, not the only one with visible ones either."
Emberley said if he was asked to cover up his tattoos he would do so out of respect for the profession he is dedicated to serving in.
"In a way it is a form of professionalism and I guess to them to express that is to cover up tattoos."
Emberley said all his tattoos have meaning for him. He got his first, a cross over his heart, at the age of 12 when he was saved.
"Each tattoo is a chapter of my life."
Meanwhile tattoo artist Travis Jones thinks it ridiculous to ask people to cover up their tattoos, and that it is a from of discrimination.
"It's your choice and I don't think you should have to alter what you do in your daily life to accommodate," said Jones, owner of the Skin Gallery.
The only time he could see it as an issue is if the tattoos were vulgar or prejudiced in some way.
"If it's not discriminating against anybody else, nobody should have the right to discriminate against you."
Jones has been in the business for three years and said his clients come from all walks of life.
"It's not the '80s; it's not just sailors that get tattoos anymore — it's everybody," he said. "It's becoming more of an art form. It's being recognized more as a fine art more so than years ago."