Most of us have worked in an environment that had a strict dress code, and the list of what is considered acceptable is usually straightforward: no more than “x” amount of piercings or tattoos, natural colored hair only, only minimum amounts of makeup and cover any body modifications that otherwise are unspecified. The purpose behind these strict guidelines is to keep a level of professionalism within the workplace. More and more, however, this idea appears outdated for the modern world. More millennials have tattoos than any other age group. We are making our way into the workforce, and eventually these businesses are going to need to change their policies or be forced to cut down the amount of people they are able to hire.
The purpose of keeping strict guidelines on people’s appearance in the workforce is due to a need for “professionalism”, as if getting a tattoo has anything to do with your work performance. What corporations really mean by implementing these standards is that the company you work for is selling their image, because the most basic, “clean-cut” and generic person offends less people and is more appealing to the masses.
Corporations think that they can slowly weed out rebellious free-thinkers by not hiring the ‘edgy’ or ‘alternative, when really they’re only passing up the opportunity to hire competent people. I have seen this in my own work life. I work in a restaurant with a bartender who is one of the most competent people I know — and she has visible tattoos and plugs. However, in my job as a hostess, I cannot do anything terribly “outrageous” because I am at the front door when guests come in. My boss explained it to me as, “put your best foot forward, you are the first thing they see.”
So why is this a big deal? Many people react to this like my mother, “Just don’t get [a visible tattoo], at least until you’re set in a good job and have flexibility.” But my body shouldn’t determine my fate as a good employee. How I choose to express myself and what I choose to put on my body shouldn’t deter anyone away from the company I work for. My service as hostess is going to be the same if I had tattoos on my forehead as if I was completely unadorned.
A good example of this is a man at my cellular carrier helped me reset my phone last week (because even as a millennial, technology is the bane of my existence). This man had almost complete sleeves of tattoos, and while I had stylistic issues with his choice of outline- only tattoos, I did not think any less of his service. He was polite, thorough, and his help was excellent, and that’s what was important to me, because that’s what I was there for: my phone.
You are at a business to get a service, not to judge others, so why is it so important what they do with their free time and money? If being served at a restaurant, buying a car, or having repairs on your phone done by a person with apparent body modifications bothers you, then maybe you should look at yourself. Ask yourself why you feel the need to police someone else’s choices (that aren’t negatively affecting you in any way) and work on that. I will be over here, tattooed and employed.