Tattoos in the Czech Republic

Can an inked presidential candidate and Amnesty International tattoos end the taboo?

Tattoos have always been a controversial topic; especially at the work place. The Czech Republic is quite lenient in comparison to other countries and tattoos keep growing in popularity.

According to TIME, 40% of millennials have at least one tattoo but 70% of them keep it hidden from their boss. The same study shows that 89% consider job options when getting a tattoo. Many think that as these tattooed millennials move up in the work force the taboo will slowly disappear. The demand for removal of regretted tattoos, however, also continues to rise – and the steep costs are great for the economy.

A great example of how accepted tattoos are in the Czech Republic is 56-year-old Prague-born Vladimír Franz. The painter and university scholar who occasionally works as a journalist, poet and playwright took a bold step in 2012. The man with tattoos covering over 90% of his body including his eyelids and ears, registered as a candidate in the 2013 Czech presidential election.

“Having tattoos means being able to make a firm decision,” Franz told Blesk in August of 2012. During the first round of the presidential election Franz received global attention. Although he didn't qualify for the second round, he had relatively high support and placed 5th with 6.84% (351,916 votes).

Whenever it warms up in Prague, you can see an increasing amount of tattoos flashing from beneath sleeves, straps and swishing skirts. While it is becoming more common to see ink on a variety of people, including employees in managerial positions, some occupations are tightening their grip on regulations. The police force is enforcing more than ever that officers keep their tattoos covered up and get reported if they don't.

The rise in tattoo popularity has led to more studies on the practice: the University of Alabama tested saliva samples to measure the levels of antibody immunoglobulin A and cortisol, a stress hormone, and compared the levels to the number of tattoos and the length of sessions.

According to Tech Times, participants who only had one tattoo had escalating cortisol levels which caused a decrease in immunoglobulin A. But the participants who have more tattoos only had slight drops in immunoglobin A levels which suggests that their immune response is stronger.

The study was published in the American Journal of Human Biology on March 4th due to it's high potential – however the study had only 29 participants that were predominantly women. More studies need to be done to confirm the results. Either way, the days when tattoos were considered to be reserved for criminals are long gone.

Prague offers many ways to learn about and celebrate tattoos including many exciting events. The 18th Tattoo Convention in Prague will take place on May 20th - 22nd featuring a tattoo contest, a freak show, concerts, miss tattoo and Czech beer. Tattoos are not required to attend, but there are other events that will encourage you to get one.

Amnesty International organized the One World Film Festival on March 12th of this year. Sponsored by the Dutch Embassy in Prague, two tattoo artists were invited to ink a special design that represent support for human rights. 2,959 of these tattoos have been done so far. Find out more humanrightstattoo.org.

See a list of the most popular tattoo parlors in Prague here.

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