This tattooed school teacher hopes his appearance will encourage children to be open-minded (Instagram/@freakyhoody)
A school teacher whose entire body, face and tongue are covered in tattoos says he hopes his appearance will help to make children more tolerant and less homophobic.
Sylvain Helaine, 35, started getting tattoos at the age of 27 and now estimates he’s spent around 460 hours under the needle, even getting his eyeballs inked.
He works in a French school teaching children aged six and up, and says that after the initial shock, his pupils are perfectly able to see past his appearance.
“All of my students and their parents were always cool with me because basically they knew me,” Helaine told CNN. “It’s only when people see me from far away that they can assume the worst.”
He says he hopes the experience of getting to know someone with an unconventional appearance will help teach his pupils to accept people who are different from the norm.
“Maybe when they are adults they will be less racist and less homophobic and more open-minded,” he suggested.
However, not everyone has been as accepting as his pupils. He admits his tattoos have cost him a job at a kindergarten after the parents of a three-year-old child complained to educational authorities.
They said their son, who was not taught by the Helaine, had nightmares after seeing him.
The local education authority made the decision that he should not teach kindergarten, as pupils under six “could be frightened by his appearance”.
“I think the decision they took was quite sad,” he said.
Despite the setbacks, Helaine said he would stick with his chosen career. “I’m a primary school teacher … I love my job.”