Today I am deviating from my “planned” post (which by the way, was a very informative review of Children’s Mucinex…but don’t worry, tis the season for sniffles and mucusy yuck so I’ve not junked it completely, rather just pushed it back a few days). Instead I thought I’d address what still seems to be a hot button for many (or maybe just me since it’s been eating at me lately); tattoos and professionalism. I am tattooed, and I am a professional. I fully believe that the two can co-mingle and have a very balanced relationship, however; there are some that disagree 100% and I regularly deal with these people. I try to be open-minded, but sometimes people seem so ignorant that I can’t help but get pissed.
Now I understand that part of professionalism is appearance. I understand that different generations have a different perspective on tattoos and piercings and there is still a certain stigma associated with body modification. But, does having tattoos or piercings make a person less capable of being professional? Personally, I do not tattoo my hands or pretty much anywhere that long sleeves and long pants wouldn’t cover up. This is because I am aware that in my profession (Commercial Insurance) I will come in contact with people that unfortunately will judge based on appearance. If I let them judge my tattoos before they have experienced my knowledge with regard to my area of expertise and ability to think, then I may lose a client before even having a real opportunity. Yes that’s sad, but I am realistic enough to understand that’s just the way it is and I’m okay with that. Once I’ve built relationships and gained confidence based on my work ethic and abilities in my field, then usually a tattoo does not drive a loyal client away.
What really chaps my hide though, is not the judgment I get from total strangers I really do get that – like I said they’re strangers, they don’t know me and yes initial appearance does play a factor I get it. It’s the judgment from peers that I’ve worked with for over a decade that has really been pushing my buttons though. I think that they should know me well enough by now to know that the ink has not gone to my head and my brain did not ooze out the piercing holes… I can still think and I am still good at what I do, even when I take my jacket off and the tattoos are visible. You’d think that after so long people could see you as a whole person and what you are truly capable of and support that, rather than tell you something along the lines of “you may not want purple highlights in your hair if you want to move forward in your career”. Maybe they think they’re helping and giving sound advice but really people? Do you really think the dye makes me incapable? No, it’s not the hair color, it’s the lack of support from the people that I work my butt off for, that tell me I am great at my job (you know all the work I do for them every day is fantastic) and the ones that are supposed to be my mentors and leaders in the company, their inability to look beyond what has historically been “taboo” into a more modern world of acceptance based on capabilities and not just looks…that’s my friends is what has been really grinding my gears. Rant over…
What do you think? Is it right to be judged on something superficial like tattoos, piercings, or hair color? Do you have any modifications or “unnatural” hair color that has keep you from getting a job, a client, or advancing in your career? How do you react? Let me know in the comments below and thanks for reading!
Damaris saysNovember 7, 2013 at 12:51 pm
I agree with you – it’s not right to be judged just because you have tattoos, piercings, or colorful hair….well, it’s not right to be judged period. Great post!
Hali saysNovember 7, 2013 at 1:12 pm
I’m often surprised by people who still seem to be left on the times, and when I feel bothered – I remind myself it really doesn’t matter. Can’t please everyone. Everyone is beautiful. 🙂
Debi saysNovember 7, 2013 at 3:24 pm
I do not judge tattoos. Too many people I know have them and I do not see any big deal.
Dominique saysNovember 7, 2013 at 6:45 pm
I am heavily tattooed and even as a work at home mommy blogger living in Chicago, I still find myself being judged from time to time. It’s nothing I get that offended over or anything, it’s just noticeable sometimes. I know it’s something that comes along with the choice I made to ink my body, especially in visible places like my fingers and chest. So, I don’t mind. =) It’s my art.
Alison saysNovember 7, 2013 at 6:55 pm
I agree, I totally understand I’ll get looks or judgment from strangers, I think what really bugs me right now is how the people that really know me and have for years are still so closed minded. I suppose I like to think that people can look beyond the surface especially once they’ve gotten to really know you and these people are simply proving that’s not the case and it’s so disheartening. Thanks for stopping by!!
Tracie saysNovember 9, 2013 at 3:03 am
I’m not judgmental of tattoos or fun hair colors. It is surprising to me that people who have seen your quality work would still fall back on those old attitudes. How sad.
Savvy Working Gal saysNovember 9, 2013 at 5:14 am
I have a blog post sitting in pending where I was going to write about this. I had heard a story on the radio where a man was not hired as a flight attendant because he had tattoos on his forearms. Noticeable tattoos went against their appearance policy. He claimed he could cover them up by wearing a long sleeved shirt. They denied his claim saying when distributing drinks his sleeve could slide up making his tattoo visible. The radio program then asked the audience whether a flight attendant with tattoos would bother them. Most callers said it wouldn’t bother them at all, but there were a couple of cranky men who said it would be bothersome.
So I guess there will always be a crank or two out there and you can’t change narrow-minded people. My niece has a tattoo of a cat on her foot. She has had it since she was 18. She’s now 29. My sister (her aunt) still makes comments – like I wonder if she regrets getting that tattoo or I wonder if she is going to have it removed. My sister is in her 40’s and will always be narrow-minded about appearance.
Alison saysNovember 9, 2013 at 8:20 am
You’re absolutely right, a couple of closed-minded individuals in high positions is likely what is speaking for the masses and that’s something I need to consider. Maybe the “advice” I’ve been given is really a reflection of what others think and not what that individual thinks – rather maybe they just know how the others in the organization think and really are trying to give constructive advice. Or maybe they really are one of the “cranks” and others don’t share that view, that’s just the one I’ve had the pleasure of hearing as of late. I hadn’t thought of it that way before but definitely a very relevant point.
T.Dashfield saysNovember 9, 2013 at 5:32 am
Body art is one of those sensitive topics. Some are totally against it while others embrace it (in my opinion some go way overboard but that’s my personal taste). Some tats are stunning and then we’ve all seen the “I was drunk when I got this” ink too. I’ve got two and I love them. And I don’t care what anyone thinks about them – unless they really like them 🙂 Hi from Sharefest
Alison saysNovember 9, 2013 at 8:16 am
Thanks for stopping by! I can see you’re point about some going overboard, but I guess that’s really, like you said, a matter of opinion. Overboard for you may be completely different than what is too much from another person’s perspective. Maybe that’s where the issue lies?? One or two may be “acceptable” in some peoples eyes where others don’t know why full sleeves would be a problem if they can still perform the job at hand effectively and efficiently.
Liz saysNovember 9, 2013 at 6:04 am
I totally agree: why should my tattoos have anything to do with my professionalism? But I am shocked by people’s bias, even today, when tattoos are soooo common. I live in South Florida, very near South Beach and Downtown Miami…we are VERY metropolitan, very modern, and mixed, and yet it still happens. I have 6 small-to-medium tattoos, and my husband has 5 small-to-large ones. We are both elementary school public teachers. It HAS gotten better though: when we started teaching 17 years ago, we were not allowed to show our tattoos and had to get them where they’d be hidden. Now we each have at least two small ones that show.
Alison saysNovember 9, 2013 at 8:11 am
You’re right, it has gotten better but where I see the improvement is with perfect strangers — they seem to be less judgmental a lot of the times than people you have know (or at least I have known) for years, and that’s really what saddens (and frustrates) me.
Sarah saysNovember 9, 2013 at 7:34 am
I personally love tattoos (minus the obvious gang-related ones and face/neck tats), but don’t have any – I prefer the temporary option of piercings. With that said, I think it’s a little sad to receive judgment from others for your tats. I do however believe it’s still appropriate as an employer to ask that they be covered up, depending on the field in which you work.
Alison saysNovember 9, 2013 at 8:08 am
I agree that covering up tattoos may be necessary depending on the line of work you’re in. That’s never been the issue and my co-workers know that I am very aware of that and in fact, even keep a cardigan at my desk even in the summer just in case a client or vendor pops in unexpectedly. Honestly those who don’t know me – a client I’m meeting for the first time or our regional manager for example, probably don’t even know I have a single tattoo.
KG saysNovember 9, 2013 at 8:51 am
I’m not excusing strangers for they will only see you for your outside since that’s the part that us humans see first. The part that frustrates me as it does you, are people that have worked with you and have seen your work and are still judging. That’s just not right!!
Visiting from #sitssharefest
Keep it Touched,
Kim saysNovember 9, 2013 at 9:28 am
In my [admittedly not so humble] opinion the people (namely your peers) who are judging you for your tattoos are far less capable of doing their jobs than you are. Why? Because they are wasting THEIR TIME (and company time for that matter) making ridiculous assumptions simply because you have some ink and piercings.
I have only one tattoo and it’s located on my lower right leg. Since I rarely wear skirts, this has never been an issue.
Tattoos, when done well, are amazing and shouldn’t be scorned the way they are. Yes, some people do get out of hand with tattoos and piercings but so what? Their body, not mine. If it works for them and they’re happy with it, that’s awesome.
I do see a shift towards greater acceptance but there are still plenty who view them negatively, as we’ve both pointed out. Sad for them to be so narrow-minded but what can you do?
Jessi Fearon (@TheBudgetMama) saysNovember 9, 2013 at 6:41 pm
My tattoos are well covered and I’m always so shocked when someone that I’ve know for years starts judging someone around us that has tattoos. They talk to me as if I would agree with them and that’s when I let them know that I have tattoos. The expression on their faces always cracks me up…I mean do they think that everyone that has a tattoo is covered in ink from head to toe and can’t function??? It’s so annoying. But this is a great post!
Shauna @ Momma Candy saysNovember 10, 2013 at 7:58 am
I am tattooed and the stigma, I feel, is going away. I heard a young, tattooed, father tell his mother in law that soon the un-tattooed old people will be the minority! I agree.
Darlene saysNovember 10, 2013 at 12:17 pm
It’s not right and it’s not fair to be judged by your tats and peircings but it is a fact. You can’t escape it anymore than being judged by your attire, height, weight, age . . .
I’m sure I have been guilty of such judging. Especially when I was younger. As I get older I am less judgmental and more accepting of the differences between people.
I do have to say that I am absolutely judgmental when it comes to my girls. But only because I am trying to protect them from the people in society who would deny them career advancement, happiness, whatever because of a tattoo or piercing.
Of course they don’t take my advice and are surprised each time they are discriminated against because stretched earlobes,unprofessional outfit, lack of interview practice … Get the picture?
Ahh. Such is life. Don’t you just love it?
Have a wonderful week! 🙂
Christina @ A God-blessed Life saysNovember 12, 2013 at 9:52 am
I often worry about my own tats. I have two, and it took years and years for me to finally work up the courage to get my first one- partly because I am a pansy, but mostly because of the perception of people I love. I know painfully that the people I hold most dear are the ones most critical of me, even as an adult. Some of those people are my parents. I was thirty when I got my first tat. You would have thought I murdered someone over the way they reacted when they saw it (my shirt slipped up and revealed it as I was picking up my little boy.) Now I have a second one, and want a third, and still worry over how they will react. Now- as far as professionalism and personal appearance. I think you are clearly mature enough to know how some still see tats and body piercings, and I think you have shown great professionalism in how you show or not show them to your clients. But I agree with Kim above, when she says that your peers are showing how unprofessional they are by making any kind of deal about it. Its too bad people are still so easily swayed by appearance.
Adrian saysNovember 12, 2013 at 9:45 pm
I have posted similar thoughts on my blog. I’m on the Corporate world and I thought about it literally for years before I got the two fairly small ankle tattoos that I have. It’s sad to say but I think even in this day and age, I think visible tattoos and piercing are a career-limiting move. I work in a large office with hundreds of people and there is not one person above a mid-level position that has any visible tattoos or piercings, yet I would say that probably 50% to 75% of the entry level people seem to have them. It’s kind of a chicken and the egg thing, I don’t know if it’s because of the artwork or not, but until I am certain one way or the other, I’m not going to get any more of them.
Holly saysDecember 17, 2013 at 4:07 pm
I work in healthcare, and I deal with this every day. I started out as an emt, where it wasn’t such a taboo because we were viewed as “road” & tough people by hospital staff (and the outside world.) Once I moved inside the hospital setting, things changed drastically (which I expected.) I expected patients and their families to be the judges & the jury, but that hasn’t been the case. Typically I get nice comments about my work that may show when I move my arms a certain way; however I get the opposite from my coworkers. After years of hearing secondhand comments, I finally said “I’m glad you think that I can’t do my job well, based on the sole fact that I have tattoos & piercings that you guys don’t see because I take them out when I get to work every day. If you feel that strongly about my ability to perform my job above standard, then say something to someone that can do something about it. But take plenty of proof with you, because you’re bound to be laughed out of the bosses office.”
It hasn’t shut up their looks, but it’s closed their mouths on nights I work, at least. I can’t change the world’s attitude on my appearance. I like what I see looking back at me through the mirror, and at the end of the day that’s all that really matters. But every so often, people we’re in close contact with need to be put in check.
Justina saysApril 30, 2014 at 11:10 am
My hubby works in healthcare, and has lots of tattoos! I totally think that being professional and being tattooed can coexist!
Amber saysApril 30, 2014 at 1:51 pm
I’m all for being different! I absolutely believe in everyone’s right to have tattoos, piercings and whatever color hair they wish! 🙂
Aleshea saysMay 1, 2014 at 5:06 pm
I say you do you and don’t worry about anyone else. It’s a full time job to do you.
Jamie (Mama.Mommy.Mom.) saysJune 17, 2014 at 7:13 pm
Should we judge? No. Should tattoos matter? No. Sadly, the truth is that the answer to both is really yes and I hate it. I try my best not to judge people based on outward appearances – but I know it happens sometimes. As far as tattoos, I have lots of tattooed friends and I plan to get one of my own at some point. I will be careful about where I put it though, because I know it might mean the difference in getting and not getting a job some day.