The words, “please cover all visible tattoos and piercings,” echoes on millions of interview guidelines across the U.S. Unfortunately, the repercussions of extreme body modification can affect your ability to gain favor with potential employers, even if you hold all the necessary qualifications, which is wrongful discrimination based on something as arbitrary as appearance.
If this is the case, why are tattoos, piercings and body modification so prevalent today? The answer is simple: Younger generations often associate self-expression and control with the ability to obtain tattoos, piercings, scarring and body modification, making the demand for them higher than ever before.
The need to express oneself has become a central theme to millennial fashion. These trends include practices that stray far from the ideals of the professional culture that older generations followed. One scroll through Instagram and you will see unique individuality expressed through rainbow-colored hair, full-sleeve tattoos on both men and women, body scarring, piercings on just about every part of the body, tongue splitting, skin implants and body stretching.
As college students, our No. 1 goal should be to learn the components of our desired careers so hopefully one day we can make our dreams a reality. This means adopting the professional aspects of whatever industry we intend to pursue. Obviously, the standards of professional workplace attire often contradict or prohibit the above mentioned millennial fashion trends. This regrettable detail leads millennials to compromise their self-expression for jobs.
It is clear that the most pressing concern is not whether we can perform a job correctly, but instead, the response that people will have toward our appearance. Basically, the closer we are to the public, or more importantly, the consumer, the more essential having a professional appearance becomes.
The root of all this concern exists because of shame placed on having tattoos, piercings and other body modifications. It is often assumed that tattoos are for criminals or people of lesser intelligence despite the fact that there is no scientific proof to back up this widely held belief.
Most people also assume that someone whose body has multiple tattoos, piercings or modifications may have ties to the ‘punk’ or ‘metal’ cultures that are often misconstrued as devilish or ungodly, which as you may have guessed is a big social no-no.
There is no known cure for stigmas, you just have wait for them to die out on their own. Still, there is no reason to be fearful, for are we not the future leaders of America? Are we not to be responsible for molding the minds of the generations after us? Yes, we are.
Just as we taught ourselves to grow away from the stigmas and judgments of the past, we can shape the future to be more open-minded towards self-expression. Hopefully through this, generations after us will be judged on their character and work ethic instead of the art on their skin or number of holes in their body.
Allaa Tayeb is a sophomore majoring in English.