Lindsay Duncan looks at one of the last taboos in the world of work – body modification.
For students today, a big worry is finding a job after graduation. With thousands of qualified students eagerly looking for employment and not as many jobs available as we’d like, it can be extremely difficult and stressful for many to put their degree to good use. It is hard enough for students to even find part-time work while studying, so leaving the comfort of student life and stepping out into the ‘big bad world’ is never easy. This thought is hard to swallow for students everywhere, and even more tough for those who have tattoos and piercings.
The discrimination against those who are heavily modified can be pretty unavoidable in many working environments. Piercings and tattoos are deemed ‘unprofessional’ and ‘improper’, and those with such body modifications fall victim to the perception that they are ‘trouble makers’, ‘weird’ and sometimes even ‘scary’.
And it is not only the employers who are at fault, it’s also many members of the public. It is not uncommon for companies to have complaints about their employees due to their appearance, despite them performing well at work. For someone like myself, who, despite not having any, likes modifications, it is hard to understand why anyone would complain about the tattoo on the barista’s wrist who served them coffee.
It was only recently that a trainee teacher was sent home due to her multiple tattoos and piercings and told to cover her ink with plasters if she wanted to return to work; this is just plain discrimination, there is no way to dress it up.
It is argued that firms have a right to employ who they wish, and if they are against body modifications then it is their right to turn away applicants with tattoos, piercings and even sometimes, colourful hair.
I understand that having pink hair, facial piercings or tattoos covering your skin may not look as professional to some employers; however it does not affect their performance in the work place in anyway, so I see no real reason why those modified can realistically be turned down for jobs.
Body modifications are no longer only for the alternative and brave; the trend is steadily growing, and being a student I find it difficult to walk down a corridor in university without seeing at least one tattoo, multiple piercings and colourful hair. It has become the norm, so why are companies still allowed to treat it like something intimidatiing and strange?
In this day and age, many students are inking their skin and piercing their bodies as a way to feel good about themselves. You may not like them, but no one has a right to shame those who gain confidence through their own self expression.
If tattooing their bodies and piercing their faces improves their self esteem and makes them more comfortable in their own bodies, then companies should accept that and be open minded when it comes to their applicants. Afterall, it is the student’s skills and talents they should be worried about, not what they do to their body.