Kelly Schafler" />
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Tuesday, September 26, 2023


Body of work

We are told during our youth to “be who you want to be.” In a world full of social stereotypes and economic step ladders, we are also told to “dress for the job you want — not for the job you have.” When a person’s aspirations do not match his appearance, it makes one wonder exactly how much of the interviewing process is based on physical appearance rather than qualification.

Kasarena Batiste | The Daily Cougar

Kasarena Batiste | The Daily Cougar

The person we appear to be in the workplace is not a full version of ourselves. No one would walk into an interview dressed in street clothes, speak in slang and use profanities around superiors. Some companies believe that going into work with visible tattoos, piercings, an unusual hair style or an odd hair color can be just as off-putting as profanities or inappropriate clothing. Since they’ll be the ones paying your salary, employers have the right to finger pick through their interviewees.

“Liberal arts types of jobs are usually more lenient with those things, but when you’re in that corporate office or business atmosphere, tattoos and facial piercings are frowned upon,” said University Career Services career counselor Reggie Toussant.

Some people disagree.

“When you’re hiring a person you need to look not at the physical parts. You have to look at their knowledge,” said accounting sophomore Anara Vakhitova said.

If people feel that they are not going to let anyone dictate what they do to their body, they do need to be aware that while some places are becoming more lenient concerning visible tattoos, other companies are still going to take issue.

More companies are attempting to look past physical appearances during the hiring process. There are some companies that welcome employees with body art. According to Biola University’s Career Center, such companies include Whole Foods, Hot Topic, Journeys, Home Depot, Petco, Half Price Books, Applebee’s, Best Buy, Forever 21, Target and Google.

The Great Recession is also a big point of discussion concerning tattoos in the workplace. While some places feel that with the low job opportunities, they need to be more particular with the hiring, other places feel that they need to look beyond appearances to gain a good employee.

“I would say that the recession would make people more lenient to tattoos because with the job market being so saturated, we can’t just base decisions off of image no matter what discipline you’re in. I want to hire someone who is a solid investment, not just someone who looks good on the brochure or in the office,” Toussant said.

Tattoos, piercings and unusual hair colors are another form of speech. People use their appearance to make a statement they do not feel the need to vocalize. This expression should not be penalized. People need to learn to stop judging people by their looks.

Kelly Schalfer is a creative writing sophomore and may be reached [email protected].


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