Why are Body Modifications Considered Unprofessional?

by Lex Ellenthal

I’m a big fan of body modifications. I have dyed hair and six piercings myself, and fully intend to get more, and maybe even a tattoo if I can ever finally pick something. However, there’s a cultural attitude that dictates having dyed hair or piercings or a tattoo makes someone a bad person, or unqualified for a position. This couldn’t be further from the truth. While there is a bad egg in every basket, there’s no person who can be so judged based solely on his or her physical appearance. I know a preschool teacher with dyed hair and facial piercings and a business executive with tattoos. Both are extremely competent at their jobs despite these ornamentations. 


The history of piercings and tattoos explains a lot about why they hold such a stigma in our culture. Most body modifications originated in non-white societies, and because so much of our modern culture is shaped around what majority members considered acceptable, it is easy to see how some “alternative” appearances are viewed as unprofessional.

Luckily, the tide seems to be changing. According to a Pew Research poll from 2010, 23% of Americans have a tattoo, and 32% of people ages 30-45 have at least one tattoo. This New York Times article explains how many millennials are discovering the pitfalls of having a visible tattoo in the workplace, while others are finding it to be nearly a non-issue. Different industries have different standards-something to keep in mind the next time you find yourself in chair awaiting your brand new eyebrow piercing or wrist tattoo. So express yourself, dye your hair lime green, adorn your body with beautiful designs or jewels! Just remember that it might be a while before it’s considered okay for the POTUS to have a half-sleeve.  


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