As a young woman in the workforce, I have held a variety of positions since my first job as a senior in high school. I have worked in retail, a factory, in an outdoor setting with a forestry company, and now as a veterinary assistant in my hometown. These four occupations might seem unrelated at first glance, but one thing remains the same with each: the atmosphere of each setting is as unique as the jobs themselves. With each unique atmosphere, it is a given that some positions are more "relaxed" in terms of attire than others. Still, the ever-lingering idea of "professionalism" prevails.
As human beings, the idea of what is professional and what isn't can remain a gray area. For some, it's fairly cut and dry. In more recent decades, the strict adherence to the idea of business casual or nothin' has begun to fade, and many companies are adopting a more "modern approach" to office attire.
As a young girl, I grew up dreaming of fantasy hair colors and the freedom to express myself in my clothing choices and personal style. As I have aged, I have become tattooed and found ways to express myself in everyday wear from jeans to shoes. I currently have bright cherry red hair and multiple piercings. I have more than one ear piercing in both ears, as well as a nostril piercing. Due to these things, I have been told by many of my peers as well as by older individuals around me that I would never be successful. This argument always frustrated me. The concept that an individual can never succeed because of a stud in their nose or ink on their skin infuriated me.
The idea that my pink or red or blue hair made me undesirable to companies was bewildering. Surely my lengthy resume and qualifications could do the trick? Unfortunately, this has not always been the case. I have had doors shut in my face, and people refuse to work with me due to my "undesirable" locks. I was once told I had to be stupid to have tattoos on my body, or that I clearly could never get into a "good" college because of it. How could this be true? I made a 30 on my ACT and studied religiously in high school. I graduated with the highest honors, and I am already over an academic year ahead in my collegiate studies because of my hard work as a student.
While the fear of workplace discrimination or a loss of workplace integrity is still a concern for many tattooed professionals, we can take solace in the fact that the consumer world is taking smaller steps towards a more relaxed attitude towards body modification in professional settings. The idea that someone is a delinquent, or even incompetent, due to tattoos or colored hair is an outdated notion.
Unfortunately, many people still cling to the idea that it is unprofessional or unbecoming. Individuals with tattoos or body piercings are judged for their outside appearance, rather than their work ethic or intelligence. Isn't it time for a change?