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Tattoos, Piercings and Other Things That Seem Cool Now…

Ok, before I start this post, I want to mention that in pretty much every industrialized nation in the world, it is illegal to discriminate in the workplace based on physical appearance. That means that an employer can’t pass you over for a job because you have an eyebrow piercing. Know your rights!

But that said, people hire people, not resumes. If you look good on paper, but look aggressive and offputting in real life, and your interviewer is getting bad vibes from you, their prejudices could potentially put your career to a halt. The truth of the matter is that a septum ring and two full sleeves and a bright pink mohawk don’t exactly make for the most welcoming face for a lot of people, no matter how sweet your insides. So the question then becomes: as students and young adults not yet fully integrated into the professional world, how should we go about making the highly personal and individual decision of body modification?


I have two tattoos, but only one can be easily covered up, and I’m currently working on building two full sleeves which will hopefully be finished by age 27. (I want to take my time!) I’ve spoken about my first tattoo before here (in case you missed it, I have a big one on the back of my leg). A pant suit will cover it right up. The second one however, will show quite easily if the sleeves of said pantsuit rise even an inch- like when I’d be reaching out to shake the hand of my future interviewers.

I knew this going into the tattoo shop that the placement of my quarter sleeve on my forearm would make it difficult to hide, and therefore potentially disadvantage me in the workplace. But I went ahead with it anyway. Why? Because, quite frankly, if anyone chooses to pass over my skills and talents just because I love body art, and they cannot see past archaic and outdated ideas about the definition of “professional image,” then I don’t particularly want to work for them.

I think that’s the mindset with which you should approach the decision if you’re considering visible body modification before entering the workplace. If the people or industry you’re going to potentially work for see your personal choices (which are frankly, none of their business) as reason enough to ignore your job related skills, then you don’t want to work for them anyway! It’s the same if you’re considering coming out in the workplace (or at least, choosing to not be closeted). If they judge you for it, then you’re better off without them!

These are just my personal views thought- what do you think about body modification at the age/stage we’re currently at? By the way, from experience, I’ve found that most employers under the age of 50 don’t really care- most find them cool, especially when I’m upfront about the fact that I have a tattoo that, even with the dress code, will occasionally be visible. Every job that I’ve had working for someone else has just told me to do my best to keep it covered.

But still, I want to here from you- body modification for professionals: yay or nay?

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18 Responses to “Tattoos, Piercings and Other Things That Seem Cool Now…”

  1. In my opinion, getting visible tattoos or body piercing is a bad idea if you truly want to be a business professional. If you don’t care enough about maintaining a professional appearance, perhaps you are pursuing the wrong career altogether. The bottom line is that clients, coworkers and other associates will see you as less of a professional if you have visible tattoos.

  2. A.Y. Daring says:

    Thank you for joining the debate! The way I see your arguement, you’re basing it on a particular definition of what it means to be and look professional. You see, this is interesting, because now we start getting into the definition and purpose of professional attire. As with all social norms, professional dress is both an artifical definition, and a changeable one. A professional suit is one that is clean, tailored, ironed and fits well. The purpose of the suit however, is to convey a respectable and trustworthy image. Ultimately, those things come down to what’s on the inside, not the outside. I think professionalism in in the things like eye contact,a nd a firm handshake, typo-free resumes, and timeliness. Not a lack of piercings and tattooos.

  3. While I agree that you shouldn’t have to make yourself look “The Part” but it also depends on the clientele you will be facing on a daily basis. I have always thought if you are to get tattoos and you work in an industry that doesn’t accept it then you should stick to one you can hide.

  4. Unless the CEO of the company is sporting a tattoo, it is highly recommended that you conceal your tattoos; at least long enough to get a grip on the workplace culture. Considering that you probably know nothing about the workplace culture prior to your interview, it is recommended that you error on the side of conservative.

  5. Personally, I don’t have any tattoos nor piercings on my body. I do however think that you made a great point. if they are not willing to accept you for who you are, that environment was probably not ideal for someone with the tattoos. In the end of the day, it is all about what they want out of their workers, and how they want their company to be perceived. Even a person with no tattoos/piercings can be turned down if its not what it is they are looking for. So really… tattoos/piercings is not going to derail someone, but it might set them back a little bit.

  6. A.Y. Daring says:

    @Textbook rentals- You know, I actually think it’s important to look the part. That’s why cliques dress the same. There’s camraderie in similarity. But not at the risk of losing yourself in the corporate culture. There’s also mindlessness in monotony.

    @London- Hahahahaha! Your CEO comment just made me smile. I recently quit my job to start my own company and I can’t wait to become the boss lady with the tats. It’s gonna be sick! But you’re right- it’s 100% the leaders of the organization that set the dress code standard. Like, I’d go to work in short sleeves if I worked at Apple. If Steve Jobs doesn’t have to dress up, I’ll just look nice and try not to overshadow the head honcho with my beauty, ya know :P (Better to err on the side of caution, hahahah!)

    @Komodo Dragon- True, true, yes, yes! You’ll excell most at a place where you feel comfortable and accepted, just like a child growing up in a loving home versus a cold one! We are like children to our work environments, yes?

  7. Guys tattoos piercings is the hot fashion these days. Every young wanna be the part of it. You guys looking decent.
    Thanks for sharing such awesome post with me.

  8. People should be less judgmental on many levels, but until that happens, people will have to succumb to hiding who we really are.

  9. Children to our work environments, I like that :)

  10. @A.Y. Darling – I’m glad that you found my comment very interesting. I always cover mine for initial interviews. Like others have said, it’s rare for them to hire you and then change their minds later. My fiance is a graphic designer and he wore a button up shirt to his interview but the first day he rolled up his sleeves the CEO stuttered for a few minutes to get a hold of himself but no one has ever said anything outright.

  11. A.Y. Daring says:

    @Komodo Dragon- :p Feel free to use it and tell your friends. We could start a revolution of people seriously considering how their work environments influence their productivity. En masse.

    @London- Hahahahaha! The stuttering CEO image in my mind made me laugh. You also brought up a really good point in no one saying anything outright. When it comes to a professional work environment, people should say something if they have something to say, right?

  12. textbook rentals made a good point about how it depends on the clientele you will be facing on a daily basis. If you deal with conservative clients or coworkers, tattoos can become a major distraction and give people the wrong impression. More old fashioned people would see tattoos as something rebellious and unprofessional. There are many job environments where tattoos would be no problem, but there are others where it could be a real detriment.

  13. @A.Y Daring – only if they’re brave enough to say without having a stuttered voice. lol

  14. Alright in a few days i have a job interview for a position on campsite working with year 9-10 from Melbourne high its an outdoor trainee ship position in which i will be doing things such as skiing and canoeing etc.

  15. The thing you always set to it that everyone likes your tattoo when they find it out that you hiding it from them for years.

  16. used tires says:

    I am not really big on piercings or tattoos, but to me I think if the person is really good at what he or she does, they will likely get the job, I think society is a little bit more tolerable in 2010.

    Till then,


  17. Bidet says:

    I think at first the tattoos should be covered up but when you work there for a while, it shouldn’t matter if you show them or not.

  18. used tires says:

    @Escort, not entirely sure what your’re saying there about tolerable, care to explain further?

    Till then,