Monday, May 16, 2016

Tattoos in the Workplace

I am my last two "big girl jobs", my bosses have not been judgmental or demeaning when it comes to my body art. I have not had to cover up and sweat to death, or hide who I am as a person to appease them.  For that I am grateful. 

I'm still unsure why it is still deemed "unprofessional" to have body art in the year 2016. I think it may have something to do with the current older generation, but in my experience I've had nothing but positive feedback ( thank God ) 

As a dental assistant I'm looked at in a professional manner. I am there to educate, calm and advise patients. I'm not saying that I have a medical doctorate, but I would consider my profession, indeed,  "professional". And I am expected to look a certain way to most.

I didn't immediately start getting tattoos. When I turned 18, the first things I did were:  1 ) I bought a pack of cigarettes legally 2 ) I bought a scratch-off lottery ticket and 3 ) I got my eyebrow pierced ( PS. Stupidest. Idea. Ever. ) My idea as far as tattoos were that I didn't want to immediately start getting ink and instantly regret what I put on my body; with piercings, I could take them out and they would grow shut. With tattoos, they were permanent and then would be on me forever.

My first tattoo was not so much a "tramp stamp" when I first got it. It was in the middle of my back and it reads, "Everything Is Impermanent". It is a quote from one of my favorite books, Tuesdays with Morrie. The entire quote says, "Don't cling to things, because everything is impermanent." It pretty much means that nothing lasts forever, which is something I live strongly by. From there, my tattoos evolved.

I have a trio of stars above my right buttock to represent my sisters and I. 

I have a hibiscus on my left hip because it's a flower I've always found beautiful. 

I have a lock by my right collar bone because I've always been obsessed with old-school locks and skeleton keys. Also, it represents the "key to my heart".

I have a bumble bee on my right foot that I designed for a past friend and I as a friendship tattoo. We were out one night and feeling froggy and had an old schoolmate tattoo them on us at 3:00 AM in his bedroom.

I have a duo-heart design and the Beatles quote "All You Need Is Love" tattooed on my left wrist/forearm because I will always be a hopeless romantic. Above it, months later, I had a mechanical heart placed. It represents that the heart is a machine that, no matter how many times it feels like it's broken, will always continue to thrive. 

I have a pin-up tattoo on my right thigh that represents all the things I want in my life; love, money, luck, diamonds. She sits on the world with a banner that displays "I want it all". What girl doesn't want it all?!

I also have a mustache tattoo on my finger that I got because a handful of us girls decided we were going to get this tattoo together. So in a way, it's a special bond. 

Lastly, I have a half-sleeve on my left arm that contains my two favorite flowers: daffodils and roses. I hesitated on getting this tattoo because I didn't want to look 'trashy' in potential wedding photos in the future. But then I thought, "Why is that considered trashy? Why must I lose weight to feel I'm allowed to get a sleeve? Why can't I just do what I please?" And so, I did it. I do not regret it.

So that is my collection of ink. As you see, it's not a small amount. I have VERY visible tattoos. I strongly feel that my image does not dictate my quality of work. But yet, I still feel the need to cover part of my identity for job interviews. Why?

Society still deems tattooed and pierced persons to be a certain way. I don't understand why this is so. How does a tattoo deem me lazy or unsuitable for a professional workplace? I went to a job interview a few months ago and, because my ears are gauged, she would not hire me. She had an issue from the get-go, AT my interview. I should have ceased the conversation from there, but we exchanged awkward silence and 15 more minutes of unnecessary conversation before it ended. We parted on uncomfortable terms and, although we had a working interview in the books, I emailed a day later and politely declined stating that we both feel this is not a good fit for either of us and I wished her the best of luck in her search. How unfortunate that she judged me, unaware of my full potential...

I have been in the dental profession for 4.5 years now. I have YET to have ONE patient complain about the way I look. I have gotten compliments and questions about my tattoos, but NEVER complaints. Old and young, my patients have always seen me as a professional, understanding young woman who cares for the health and well-being of them as people. And everyday I appreciate that. I am truly blessed to have not had to deal with uneducated, judgmental asshats who things I'm some insubordinate delinquent simply because I have tattoos.

I forgot where I was going with this. I am drunk.

...don't judge a book by it's cover.