Woman rejected from police due to Pokemon, Disney tattoos
A Melbourne woman who was denied the chance to join the police force because of her tattoos said the experience was "disappointing" - but that she still has no regrets.
Kathy-Rose Bullen, who has tattoos covering most of her body besides her face, neck and parts of her back, recently started looking into a police career.
The 31-year-old, who works in data imaging at the moment, told news.com.au she loves her job but was looking for a career change as she wanted to help others, "make a difference" and find a job which allowed her to be "more physically active".
She began thinking about a career with the police after hearing recruitment ads and speaking with members of her family already on the force, and soon realised it could be a dream job.
"I've got family in the police force and they said they love it and couldn't recommend it enough, as the job is fantastic and they believed I would be really good at it if I wanted to pursue it," she told news.com.au.
"It's only in the past couple of weeks I began physically training and trying to push myself a bit harder to do it."
However, Ms Bullen had not yet applied to join the police force, although she had checked requirements online, and found that while tattoos were generally allowed, hand, neck and face tattoos weren't.
Under the "frequently asked questions" section of its website, Victoria Police says "tattoos on the legs and arms will be permitted but must be covered whilst on duty if they are deemed inappropriate or offensive, and applicants are asked to send photos of their tattoos "for assessment".
Ms Bullen emailed a "really nice constable" to find out more as she didn't want to waste her time, and was told that while her ink wasn't offensive, it was "contrary to our requirement to portray a professional and disciplined image and would therefore be deemed exclusionary".
She thanked the constable for her prompt and professional reply, and said she completely respected and accepted the police force's stance.
However, Ms Bullen was still "disappointed" by the policy, and later posted on a closed Facebook group she describes as a "safe space for little rants", informing other members that she had been rejected because of her tattoos and that she felt "sad" and needed some "cheering up".
But the saga was leaked to the media, with some reports incorrectly quoting Ms Bullen, causing some members of the public to mistakenly criticise her.
"I'm not disputing their application criteria, or complaining … I just accepted it, because what else can you do?" Ms Bullen explained.
"I have respect for the police otherwise I wouldn't have wanted to become a member, so I was happy to walk away."
Ms Bullen said she made the decision to get her tattoos when she was "a bit younger" and that she didn't realise at the time they could end up limiting her career - but she insisted she had no regrets.
"I've always had good jobs but not an actual career, and it's a bit disappointing and disheartening that it's 2019 and (tattoos) are still a bit of an issue," she said.
"It's disappointing that (a police career) is something I can't pursue … but I wouldn't change a thing. I feel like changing yourself physically - unless it's exercise - just isn't worth it, and I've never been rejected by any employer before based on my appearance.
"I do understand it is written (in the policy) but it is a bit hurtful as there are tattooed officers out there who cover up - just because you can't see them doesn't mean they're not there."
Ms Bullen said she stood by her tattoos and that she was not interested in options such as tattoo removal.
At the moment, she's considering joining the fire brigade as it would also allow her to help others, without any known policies regarding tattoos.
"Tattoos are all about creativity and self-expression - it's a way of expressing yourself and it's not hurting anyone," she said, adding she was "not ashamed" of her Pokemon and Disney tattoos, as she had "cherished" the characters growing up and still enjoyed them in adulthood.
But she urged other young people to consider their future careers when getting inked.
"Definitely take into consideration what you might want to do because you don't want to limit yourself completely," she said.