Ink and metal unwanted in the workplace

We are all taught from a young age to not judge a book by it’s cover and that appearance should be secondary to personality, content, or what is on the inside. Why then are tattoos and piercings discriminated against not only in society, but more disgustingly in the workplace, with many unemployed people convinced that their inability to find work is due to their physical appearance, and actually nothing to do with their skills and experience?

Having a piece of metal in your face or body, having art permanently tattooed onto your skin, or having a different to most hair colour are not reasons to disregard someone in general or in employment. Whether someone has a body modification or not, this does not affect the person they are, their experience in the workplace, or ultimately how they are as a person. Visible appearance should be secondary to someone’s personality, skill, intelligence, experience and abilities, and in a large proportion of companies and in general, it is. But what about those employers who discriminate for how someone looks? It is exactly the same situation if an employer rejected a prospective worker because they are a different race, sex, or had a disability. Body modifications might be a choice and not a form of genetics, but they are still an expression of the individual and show who we are, and companies need to be careful that they don’t discriminate because of the candidate’s appearance. It’s wrong.

Particularly unacceptable is the amount of people who do not even work with the public or encounter face-to-face interaction with customers, yet still have to dress accordingly, remove their piercings or dye their hair a more suitable colour because their employer told them to do so. Who exactly are they hurting, abusing or insulting if they are sat in an office or factory all day merely communicating through email and telephone? The majority of people I spoke to this week claimed that their employers allowed their piercings and tattoos, however they had to be covered up or taken out whilst at work, and the apparent reasoning behind this decision? To prevent any fellow employees or the general public from being offended. But I ask you this, how is a tattoo of a flower or a butterfly offensive? What is so insulting about a little gem on your nose? If we are to prohibit talented and intellectual people from working just because of their appearance then why draw the line at ink and metal? If someone has a tooth missing or yellowing, rotting teeth, why are they allowed to work with the public but someone with a star on their wrist is disregarded? Surely having a lack of hygiene and a complete lack of care for your appearance is worse than someone who has five ear piercings in each ear?

Or maybe I’m missing the entire point, that appearance shouldn’t matter at all in regards to jobs, employment and overall society. We are too quick to judge people by their appearance and let our stereotypical viewpoints generalise perfectly lovely people solely on the basis of whether they look appropriate and correct. The small-mindedness of society and those with any aspect of control or power needs to be targeted and changed now, before it gets too late. In a modern age where piercings and tattoos are on the rise and an increasing number of people are wanting to be more alternative and individual, why have companies and corporations still not adapted to these changes and edited their views and codes of practice for the dress codes and appearances of their workforce? Do we leave the decision to the discretion of the employer, or do we fight for the individual and their right to work despite their appearance? The key and vital aspect of this debate is to remember that appearance is only the front cover of the book and doesn’t reflect the captivating amazement of the inside pages of a person’s personality, individuality, skills and abilities in the workplace. Ink and metal may be on my person, but they don’t make me the person I am.

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