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Apr 27

Body Modifications, Professionalism, and Workplace Acceptance

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I know that self expression and freedom of speech are two major reasons people stand behind in justifying their tattoos or piercings. I do not disagree. I have body modifications myself and my reasons for getting them were based in personal expression. That said, I tend to keep mine private and do not put them on display for all to see. This is not from a sense of modesty, but because I choose to maintain a professional appearance in day to day interactions with the public and at work. It is my honest and considered opinion that you will not be taken seriously in a professional capacity if you do not put forth a professional appearance. Body modifications will always fall short in the eyes of employers and those who have them cry foul when it comes to acceptance in the workplace.

The fact of the matter is that the majority of states observe “At Will Employment” and you can be terminated at any time, for any reason not specifically excluded by at will employment laws. Your employer, in the interest of upholding a certain business image, retains the right to require certain policies in order to maintain a certain code of conduct and civility. This includes dress codes requiring no visible tattoos, excessive piercings, or scarification. Even if you don’t have any sort of body modifications, this extends to the clothing you’re permitted to wear in the workplace as well. To put it simply, if you do not conform to the expected image of your employer, they can terminated your employment.

Yeah, yeah – you got your art because you don’t fit into the role of faceless conformist. That’s certainly your choice. But it’s also the prerogative of employers not to hire you or terminate your employment based on appearance. Contrary to what you may feel, this is not discrimination or wrongful termination, particularly under at will employment regulations.

Yes, you have the choice to make lasting or permanent changes to your appearance, but this does not entitle you to the job of your choice or acceptance in your workplace. If you want to be accepted professionally, look the part.

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