Tattoos and Piercings at Work

Some people may think I’m grasping at straws here, but after some conversations about it, I’m going to try to put it into perspective.

Think about what you wear when you’re going out. How do you apply your makeup? What kind of shoes do you wear? How would you fix your hair? What colours make up the majority of your wardrobe? If you don’t wear any certain colours, maybe you’re drawn to warm or cool colours, or maybe something bright, or funky patterns. Or maybe you’re into jeans and T-shirts, or plaid or Hawaiian shirts. Most of us are known for certain “trademarks.” Maybe hats or piercings or maybe you dress like a cowboy or you’re into hiphop style. Whatever it may be. You know…something that if you change it, people almost don’t even recognise you.

Now think about what you wear to work, or what you’d wear when you have to make a “good impression.” You somehow don’t feel like yourself.

Now for me, I don’t mind wearing a uniform to work. That’s perfectly fine by me. I haven’t had problems in wearing my goth or hip-hop jewellery. Or my bunches of earrings. However, when I volunteer at the Senior Citizen Center, they all want to see my makeup. I usually draw some design around my right eye and sometimes the left, but it’s kinda like my trademark. It makes me feel like “ME.” They always tell me how artistic and creative I am, which feels good. But I am not allowed to wear my piercings other than on my ears, and I don’t even know about the makeup because I’m not brave enough to go all out with it because I have an idea they wouldn’t go for that. Tattoos are allowed if they are not offensive, but what qualifies something as such? We’re a mix of different cultures and beliefs and religions and expressing oneself may have that consequence. Not only that, but tattoos and piercings are such a big part of our culture that I don’t think we can really deny it, and it’s easier to take a piercing out than to force someone to cover up a tattoo or to have their gauged ears surgically sealed. So personally I feel there’s a bit of a bias. It’s OK to have this or that because it’s nearly impossible to hire someone who doesn’t have a gauge or a visible tattoo, but a simple piercing has to be taken out. I get that, because it’s the logical thing, but being that I have piercings, I feel like a child with that, “Why does so&so get to have that but I can’t have this?” mentality. At any rate…

I feel it’s a part of who I am. It’s not so much that it makes me “ME” because I’m going to be me either way. It’s just that I don’t feel like myself. And I don’t know that people quite understand it.

But maybe this will help. If you’re clean cut, or dress in boots and a cowboy hat, or anything that is considered “normal” (although I think being from Texas makes boots and cowboy hats acceptable by default), and you’re forced to die your hair black, or green, and wear thick black eyeliner and black lipstick, maybe a clip-on nosering, and then you’re forced to go out dressed that way, would you still feel like yourself? You’re still you, but you would probably feel a bit awkward. Maybe even as if you’re something you’re not. And what if it were more acceptable to go out dressed that way as opposed to being “normal?”

It’s my personal belief that these things go hand-in-hand with social acceptance of things that are “different” or “not the norm.” Now here’s where I’m probably grasping at straws. A lot of people would say that someone chooses to get tattoos or piercings, which is true. We could just not get them. When we see people dressed normally, people don’t question that as a “choice.” It’s who they are, and automatically and subconsciously thought of as such. But we could easily say that weight, sexual orientation, sexual identification, religion, political views, and the billions of other things that “make up” an individual are choices. We could say that a transgendered person “chooses” to dress as the opposite sex, or to have surgery to complete the process. Or that someone’s religion is “chosen” even if they were born into it. And we can all sit back and make judgements on things we know nothing about or just don’t understand.

I think that what it really comes down to is personal and individual freedom, because when we stop seeing the outside of a person and judging based upon what we find “offensive” about their appearance or about them as a person, only then can we really get to their heart. And sometimes, there’s no reason to try to understand someone, or their personal “choices,” but to just accept them and love them for who they are.