No Ink, No Holes, No Service

Category:  Opinions
Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016 at 7:02 PM
No Ink, No Holes, No Service by Melanie Overturf
It’s an age old debate, should body mods be allowed?

A lot of places seem to have dress codes, don’t they? My high school had a dress code. For the most part it was pretty relaxed, focusing more on actual articles of clothing than on hair color or body modifications, and I was okay with that. I’m still okay with high school dress codes and I’ll tell you why.

Naturally, as a woman, I don’t think that knees, or god forbid — a shoulder is distracting. If it is, people need to be teaching their children better manners. Normal non-sexual body parts are not distracting. However, children (which, by the way, is what high school students are) under the age of 18, do not need to be scantily clad. Because they are children. Shorts and tank tops are perfectly fine. Tiny shorts and mid-drift tops? Don’t really belong in a high school setting anyway, so why is anyone complaining?

What I don’t understand is why my workplace has a dress code. Obviously, some sort of uniform is to be expected and that’s okay. But aside from what I should be wearing at work, why is there a dress code at all? Now, if you don’t know who I am by name, let me paint a small picture of myself for you. I keep the right side of my head shaved, ear lobes gaged (right ear twice), and an industrial bar in my left ear, cartilage piercing in my right, my lip, nose, and tongue are all also pierced. As far as clothing, I’m most comfortable in brightly colored skinny jeans, and I prefer to keep my hair dyed and an obnoxious color of red. I also tend to keep a beanie attached to my head at all times as a sort of medical security blanket (I have health conditions that sometimes causes bald patches and that’s just…).

Now, the dress code at my workplace requires that I take my lip ring out, although my manager has zero problems with me just putting in a cute little lip stud. I personally don’t like wearing studs in my lip. Since it was pierced when I was 14, which is seven years ago now, I have worn a hoop in my lip. Straight bars are actually rather painful for me to wear, because it healed with the curve of a hoop. Options are limited, but I’ve had all my piercings long enough that taking them out isn’t too big of an issue, except for the principle of the thing.

What really grinds my gears is that for a whopping $25 a week, I get told what colors I can and can’t dye my hair. I must keep it in the realm of “realistic.” I don’t mind keeping my hair a natural red, but I really do like being able to have the freedom to do whatever with it. But I don’t. I’m not allowed to have obnoxious red, blue, pink, purple, green or any artificial color in it. That means I can’t even do cool stuff like mermaid hair.

I know, I know. “Why is having a normal appearance in a workplace such a bad thing? Most places require some semblance of normality or professionalism; I don’t understand what you’re complaining about.”

What I’m complaining about is this: what does the color of my hair or the amount of holes I get punched into my face have to do with what kind of a person I am? Having bubblegum pink hair and 22 piercings doesn’t mean I can’t help customers. It doesn’t mean I’m more likely to steal from work. It just means I have bubblegum pink hair and 22 piercings. That’s it. There’s no “special meaning” to it. And if it’s based on how untrustworthy I look, I am almost positive that’s discrimination. If a company can get in trouble for not hiring POC because they deem them “untrustworthy,” then what is different about the holes in my face and the color of my hair?

Businesses aren’t judging me by my personality, or my work ethic, or my (lack of) criminal background. They’re calling me in for an interview and making a decision based on my appearance, and if they hire me despite my appearance, I will be told what needs to change. And this is not okay.

Can you imagine if we refused to hire people without brightly colored hair or piercings? Do you see how silly that sounds? It doesn’t make any sense at all. It’s outrageous and mildly infuriating — the idea of turning someone away based on appearances. It doesn’t make sense to do it with POC, or people with disabilities, or people without body modifications, so why does it make sense to do it to people with body mods?

My body modifications do not define me as a person. Just like my disability does not define me as a person. The clothes I wear do not define me as a person. How I treat people, customers, my work ethic, and my willingness to help people does.

I’ll say it louder for the people in the back. My appearance does not dictate my ability to work…

Melanie Overturf is a Staff Writer for The Spectator.

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