My first “real” job interview is coming up this week and, in addition to concerns over my performance face-to-face with my potential future employers, I have put much consideration into my attire for the big day.
Part of this contemplation revolves around my lip ring.
This piece of body jewelry is not just a valued possession of mine but it also feels like it’s become a part of me. I love my little rhinestone stud for the way it individualizes my appearance in a simple and, in my opinion, innocuous way.
Unfortunately, many people do not agree with my opinion (including my mother, who would not let me enter my house until I took it out). Employers especially may shrink from piercings and tattoos (which I also have) and refrain from hiring individuals with such accessories.
According to a 2006 study by Anne E. Laumann, MBChB (bachelor of medicine and surgery degrees), and Amy J. Derick, Md., that involved men and women 18-50 years of age, 24 percent had tattoos and 14 percent body piercings. The study linked tattoos and piercings to a lack of religious affiliation, extended jail time, previous drinking and recreational drug use. So I guess that explains the uneasiness of employers over tattoos and piercings.
Obviously not all inked or pierced people are hooligans, but why should a company bother giving someone the benefit of the doubt if there’s a clean-cut and unadorned applicant also at the front door?
Well, some companies consider allowing piercings and tattoos beneficial in that it attracts younger and possibly more innovative and exciting workers.
Nearly half of 20-something-year-olds have either a tattoo or piercing other than traditional earrings, according to a study published this year in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. Those who are 25-29 years old have the highest incidence of tattoos (36 percent) and 30-39-year-olds follow with 28 percent. These are the ages of those who are right out of college or grad school, youth loaded with energy and potential, and the percentages show that piercings and tattoos are not uncommon among them.
Basically it depends on the industry to be entered; it’s all about catering to the clientele and sometimes piercings and tattoos may be ok or even attractive and sometimes they can be absolute deterrents.
Thus, to seem both professional and yet inviting, many employers opt to leave their dress code vague. And this often leads to confusion. For instance, in 2004 Costco was sued for religious discrimination after it fired an employee for breaking its policy against facial jewelry. The employee, a member of the Church of Body Modification, said wearing her facial piercings was a part of her religion. Also, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Inc., agreed around that same time to pay a former employee $150,000 for a lawsuit of the same nature because the restaurant chain’s no-visible-body-art policy clashed with the employee’s Kemetic (ancient Egyptian) religion.
I can understand the offense if someone, say, had a swastika tattooed on the arm, but I don’t see the need for policies against harmless images, especially if they look good.
The company for whom I am applying to work for advises conservative dress for the interview. Personally I wouldn’t want to hire someone who makes the attempt to look boring. There’s definitely a line between gaudy clothes and, likewise, ostentatious tattoos and piercings, but it shouldn’t be so thick as to blur them out completely. Getting a tattoo or piercing isn’t a slip in judgment; it’s a sign of personality, daring, maybe even class and good taste. I think my lip ring looks great and I’m not even a crack-head felon.