“Are you sure you are going to like that tattoo/piercing in twenty years from now?” “In my opinion, tattoos and piercings are ugly.” “You know, those tattoos and piercings won’t look good when you are getting a job.” If you have a tattoo or piercing, I am sure you have heard this a million times. Maybe you have said these phrases. If you are thinking of getting a tattoo or piercing, maybe these phrases have factored into your decision.
Our society is conditioned to believe that tattoos and piercings are equated with being unprofessional. Does the ink on my body or the jewelry on my body really express my ability, or lack there of, to perform a job? Or does it represent a form of expressing myself that allows me to feel at home and comfortable in my skin?
Luckily, times are changing and tattoos and piercings are becoming increasingly acceptable in the workplace. However, things are not perfect and in my opinion, there is still a lot of progress to be made.
In high school, I had no idea who I was. I kept changing my hair, my style, and my make-up all in an attempt to better express myself. I started to get more piercings when I turned 18. One piercing led to the next, and then I started to get tattoos. My tattoos started out relatively small and then grew larger and more intricate. I currently have 21 piercings and 12 tattoos (and counting).
I found that I began to feel more like myself. This is not to say you should run out and get 10 piercings and 10 tattoos all at once, but if they allow you to express yourself, then just do it! Tattoos and piercings are not for everyone, and that is OK. But if you do choose to get them then that is OK too. It is YOUR body and you dictate what to do with it, not your employees, parents, friends or significant other.
Sometimes, I’m at work and I notice someone’s hair. I think to myself, “That haircut is really unflattering.” Do I say that? Of course not! Like my mother used to say, if you have nothing nice to say then do not say anything at all.
So if an employment prospect will not hire me because of my “bodily modifications,” or will only hire me if I take out all of my piercings and hide all of my tattoos:
Maybe that says more about the employer than it does about me.
If I were in a financial position where I could turn down that job, then I would. It says a lot about the value system of that company/organization, and that is a value system that I neither agree with nor support.
I will never cover up or be made to feel ashamed of my lotus flower tattoo on the back of my right calf that symbolizes my journey with my eating disorder. I will never cover up or be made to feel ashamed of my Star of David tattoo on my right forearm that symbolizes my connection to Judaism. I will never cover up or be made to feel ashamed of my arrow tattoo on my thumb that represents my recovery from self-harm. And I will never cover up or be made to feel ashamed of the piercings on my ears that I use as a means to feel decorative, yet slightly edgy.
My tattoos and my piercings represent who I am just as much as my resume. So, at the end of the day, if you can’t deal with my tattoos and piercings, then you can’t have me as your employee either.