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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at MUJ chapter.

There. I said it.

‘Unprofessionalism’ is a broad term in the corporate world. Harassment counts as unprofessionalism and you could expect an HR case coming your way. And that makes sense; on moral grounds. But ‘unprofessionalism’ is a term that could be hurled at you even if you show up to work in sweatpants. Simply put, the word in this setting seems to have a perspective-based meaning, unlike other, normal words whose meaning can be found in the dictionary. 

An office space is considered to be a ‘professional’ environment. That means the people in said environment are supposed to be only concerned with the work they are paid to do. Unprofessional behaviour involves indecent conversations amongst co-workers, prodding into the life of a fellow co-worker against their will, etcetera.

Appearance also seems to play an important role in professionalism. For example, tattoos are considered to be one of the biggest no-nos. The apparent reason being, that it shows signs of ‘vulgarity’ and ‘impulsiveness’ in the bearer’s personality. According to ‘Tattoos: Demographics, Motivations, and Regret in Dermatology Patients’ published in the Indian Journal of Dermatology, 

The most common motivations for having tattoos were ‘to feel independent’, ‘to feel better about himself/herself’ and ‘to look good’.”

Many refer to it as, “An art form of expression.” Tattoos often carry sentiment-related meanings, or they are simply an artistic expression of a person’s personality. So, while some tattoos could reveal a vulgar nature in people, considering the act of possessing one alone as ‘vulgar’ seems farfetched at worst! In fact, an inked person exhibits many notable qualities at first glance; bold personality, creative thinking, and passionate outlook, to name a few.

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As for dressing; well, style is considered to be a form of self-expression as well! As long as the piece of clothing is acceptable in public spaces, it can be expected at a workplace too! Of course, it must be conditioned as one cannot expect to be showing up in nothing but a speedo(just because that is acceptable at a beach which is a public space). A dress code can be put forward as to how indecent is considered too indecent. But, apart from that people should be given the freedom to dress comfortably. A body (decently) free from the constriction of its clothing is attached to a brain that is free from the thoughts of going home and changing out of those uncomfortable pants.

They say,

“You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.”

What they don’t tell you is that first impressions are not permanent! And for those who are involved in situations where first impressions could change one’s course of life(say, job interviews), consider going by a different cliché quote like,

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Yes, even by the end of this article, ‘Unprofessional’ will still have a subjective meaning differing for each person. While we all get to practice whatever we feel is right, maybe we shouldn’t interfere in others’ practices as long as they are morally sound. Worse things happen in the corporate office environment than your boss, Jared showing up in a pair of joggers, but that’s a different article for another day. Lastly, before I bid you adieu, I would like to throw one last banal quote at you,

“Live, and let live.”

And now, adieu. :)

"Even all the scars from your mistakes make up your constellation." -BTS (Answer: Love Myself) Note: Vyjayanthi was the Senior Editor, later turned Editor-in-Chief of HCMUJ in the 2023-24 tenure. She will continue to contribute as a writer for HCMUJ during the 2024-25 academic year after which she will graduate! :) My day job is being a full-time B. Tech CSE student at Manipal University Jaipur, while my more so evening-time-job is being the Editor-in-Chief at this chapter. I occasionally dabble in expressing my opinions in literary form. I'm an ardent supporter of feminism, especially in the LGBTQ+ community. I'm passionate about making my mark by creating a voice for things I care for. In my free time- I enjoy reading, writing poetry, and basking in over-analysed fan theories and song lyrics. What can I say? I disguise my covert narcissism as altruism :)