Bodymods: Expression or Unprofessional?

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Bodymods: Expression or Unprofessional?

Campus aide Joe Avila displays the ink he proudly wears on his arm.

Campus aide Joe Avila displays the ink he proudly wears on his arm.

Ivan Delgado

Campus aide Joe Avila displays the ink he proudly wears on his arm.

Ivan Delgado

Ivan Delgado

Campus aide Joe Avila displays the ink he proudly wears on his arm.

By Gwen Langi

You may be excited to present your new tattoo or piercing to your friends and family but make sure your boss doesn’t see it. 

Jobs commonly require employees to cover their tattoos or remove their piercings while on the clock, believing they are unprofessional. Some customers and clients might question the worker’s character, labeling them as a “bad” person. 

But today, many people choose to express themselves through body art.

Workers choosing to express themselves by changing their image is not a reason to judge their capabilities. 

Rebeca Jimenez recalls having to hide her septum piercing from her boss, which she believes is unnecessary. 

“I know some jobs do allow piercings and tattoos but for apparently it’s not appropriate and is not work attire. shouldn’t matter and it’s not fair. It’s not like you can take off a tattoo and put it back on when you get home. If you found a job that you genuinely want to do, then your tattoos and piercings should not stop you from doing it.”

As Jimenez said, tattoos cannot be easily taken off for the benefit of bosses. When someone gets a tattoo, it expresses who they are. To some, body modifications have special meaning. Asking them to cover up because they tarnish the image of the workplace is not only inconsiderate but discriminatory. 

Refusing to hire people with tattoos is discriminatory and targets those who already struggle with finding a job. It discriminates against those choosing to display their body art, especially when it is difficult to hide. Ex-offenders trying to get back on their feet find difficulty applying for jobs with the “no tattoo” rule upheld by employers. Looking for a job is hard and looking for a job with a criminal record is harder. But looking for a job with a criminal record and tattoos may be nearly impossible. 

Should employees be able to set rules about tattoos and body modifications for workers on the clock?

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When someone decides on a tattoo or piercing they have their personal reasons for doing so. Similar to their choice of clothing or how they choose to style their hair, body art is a form of self-expression which reflects personality. 

Employees with piercings chose to get them because they like the way it looks. However, being asked to remove them to maintain a professional image is unfair because piercings do not determine whether they are capable of doing their job. 

“I was upset. I did not want to remove my piercing every week, especially since it can get infected,” Jimenez says in regards to hiding her septum ring for the sake of keeping her job. 

If a company fails to hire you because of your race, religion or gender you can file a lawsuit for discrimination but unfortunately the same doesn’t apply for tattoos or piercings. 

Expecting employees to disguise parts of themselves they chose to accentuate is inconsiderate. Bosses should consider the comfort of their employees and if they work best with their body art displayed then so be it. 

Whether companies like it or not, there will come a time where the rejection of inked and pierced employees will be impossible because times have changed and body art has become common among the younger generations. 

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