A post about an image of an accountant’s headshot on LinkedIn that showed off her tattooed arms, after she had hidden them for many years at work, was viewed over 31,000 times.  

Jessica Leonard, 36, from Cleveland, Ohio, decided to share a photo on the careers social media networking site that reflected her look more authentically, sharing a bio image with her ‘sleeves’ clearly on display.

The public accountant, who works for Evolution Capital Partners, says she had a conversation with her boss about whether it was the right thing to do, fearing that people would ‘judge’ her for the etchings, and that it might harm her career. 

He wrote to her saying that he had brought her to tears and that she should feel proud of her body. This sentiment is echoed by the over 3,000 LinkedIn comments about the image. 

Some said body art is still unacceptable in professional settings, while one LinkedIn user called them “distracting”. 

Jessica Leonard, a public accountant from Cleveland, Ohio, had new professional bio photos taken by her employer, Evolution Capital Partners, late last year showing her with her tattooed arms exposed and hidden by a suit jacker - she decided to post them both on LinkedIn, and the post quickly went viral

Jessica Leonard, a Cleveland public accountant, was recently photographed by Evolution Capital Partners to create her professional bio. The photos showed Jessica with her tattooed hands exposed and covered by a suit jacket.

The 36-year-old said she was shocked by the positive reaction to the photo of her etchings, saying 'I had grown accustomed to wearing long sleeves in the heat of summer' Pictured: Leonard in her covered up LinkedIn photo

According to the 36-year old, she was stunned by the positive response to her photo with her etchings. Leonard poses in her cover up LinkedIn photo

Leonard uploaded the photo alongside a picture of herself in a traditional grey business suit.

The woman revealed she had been told tattoos weren’t suitable for seniors. A peer also suggested it wouldn’t make sense to use the image as a LinkedIn profile pic. 

Leonard told ABC News that while she definitely received some negative comments, with people ‘advising’ her that she should still be cautious about how tattoos are perceived, the vast majority of comments were positive. 

She said that the reactions to the image show how the pandemic affected attitudes towards workwear, body art, and piercings. 

The tattoos she has are inspired both by Harry Potter and as tributes to her four-year old nephew, who was diagnosed with cancer at age 4.

ABC News reported that she said, “As soon it went viral, I thought: “I know how to do this.” You should always be ready if you put yourself out there and it is something controversial.

“I received some comments from people who felt they had to warn me and others about tattoos because of the still judgement out there.

Leonard says she has a diverse range of body art on her 'sleeves' - including a Harry Potter etching and a tribute to her late nephew, who died of brain cancer

Leonard claims she has many body art pieces on her “sleeves” – including Harry Potter engravings and a memorial to her nephew who was diagnosed with brain cancer.

Leonard, pictured with her husband Joe, told ABC News she had been braced for criticism after the post went viral

Leonard is pictured here with Joe. She told ABC News that she was prepared for criticism following the viral post.

The logo for Evolution Capital Partners, Cleveland, is next to her new bio picture. 

According to the accountant, she initially was ‘cautious about the bold bio photo posing potential dangers for her career’ but was encouraged by the positive response from her boss. 

She explains how the conversation arose after getting a new company headshot taken last month: ‘I was cautious but asked our Managing Partner if he was comfortable with me getting a photo taken sans jacket for my personal use on LinkedIn, but that we’d use one with the jacket for our website.’

She said his response was: ‘Let’s roll with the tattoos in both! Loud, proud

Many thanked the accountant for raising the issue, suggesting that the pandemic had relaxed attitudes to piercings, body art and hair colours in the workplace

 Many thanked the accountant for raising the issue, suggesting that the pandemic had relaxed attitudes to piercings, body art and hair colours in the workplace

The accountant admitted she was lost for words at the largely positive response to her post

According to the accountant, she felt overwhelmed at the positive reaction to her post.

She told LinkedIn friends that she was shocked at his casual reply. In the summer heat, I was used to long sleeves, pulling on my suits sleeves at every meeting, and to pulling my hair back around my ears so that no one could see the tiny tattoo behind my ear. Also, I avoided getting leg or ankle tattoos out of fear of not being able again to wear skirts in business settings.  

She said, “I felt like I should be more careful with how much I let loose.”

Many people thanked the accountant who raised the matter. 

Tammy Thrasher wrote that she thought you looked amazing in the two photos. You are more radiant if you’re who you really are and not showing off your body. In both of these photos, I can see the professionalism. Please be you  

Rikki Smith stated that it was difficult for anyone to say someone shouldn’t have tattoos because they are in an office. This is a bunch of dumb codswallop.

Other sources said that it all depended upon who is hiring. Cassandra Hanson Dyer said: “Good luck finding the right employer. All it comes down to the manager, your portrayal of who you really are, and how your body speaks for itself. Although tattoos can be a positive thing, they are often stigmatized.

Another, James DeYoung, admitted he thought tattoos were still a no-no in a professional environment, saying: ‘My personal opinion is that tattoos are visual noise and distracting in a work environment. The same goes for workers with piercings where I’m forced to look at them while talking/interacting with them. This is passive aggression towards someone who doesn’t want to be tattooed/pierced.  

Leonard responded to the comments, saying that he never thought this blog would reach so many people. I appreciate all of your comments (even the not so nice ones – I hear you too).’