For as long as I can remember I’ve colored my hair. In high school I was obsessed with turning my boring brown into a brilliant red. Many people, friends and strangers alike, remarked on an uncanny resemblance to Claire Danes and I figured the red hair would only help matters. As I got older I tried streaks of color, going fully blonde, adding some purple and red highlights, etc. After my divorce a couple years ago I decided that since I wasn’t going back to my old religious meetings and my ex husband no longer cared what I colored it, I would go teal. The reactions to this choice were interesting, just as they were when I cut almost all my hair off when I was younger. It was amazing how many people I found who were emotionally invested in my hair! Family members…friends… strangers on the street. So many opinions. I never knew hair mattered so much!
I feel for the people who have a more standard job than I do and wish they could express themselves more through tattoos, piercings, and hair color. You are seldom allowed to show individuality at office jobs, corporate jobs, and the like.
We’re given a few reasons for this. One of the main reasons is that it’s “unprofessional”. Back in the 70’s it was considered unprofessional to have a beard. Today business owners, CEO’s, customer service people … all might have beards. I was in a popular electronics store the other day and the girl who waited on me had her septum pierced, two lip piercings, a bunch of earrings in, and her eyebrow as well. It didn’t bother me.
This has nothing to do with sexiness and everything to do with our personal preference as human beings. The way I see it, in my most simplistic political view I can possibly express, my rights end where another person’s begin. What right of another person am I infringing on if my hair is blue, my lip is pierced, or I have tattoos?
My mother, bless her, has a hard time looking at my two nose piercings. I get it. Really, I do understand. But this is a perfect example of another’s “rights”. I love and respect my mom, but I also enjoy having tattoos, some piercings, and occasionally putting some “crazy” colors through my hair. Even if it bothers someone I very much respect and love, I still believe we all have a right to express ourselves.
I fully believe these things will become more acceptable in the workplace as time goes on. What would be lovely is enacting some positive changes about them now. I love the t-shirts I’ve seen around that say “Tattooed and employed”. Seems obnoxious at first, but it’s a valid statement. Many people believe someone with a lot of tattoos will never find gainful employment. Now, I’m certainly not suggesting you go out and get a gang symbol tattooed across your throat. As with everything in life, there is balance. However, tattoos that can easily be covered when necessary? (All of mine end at my wrist and could be fully covered by slacks and a long sleeve shirt). Why is that not acceptable? Also, any tattoos that are generally inoffensive (if you have “fuck you” tattooed across your forehead, you may be the exception to working in an office environment) should be deemed generally more society-friendly by this point.
If we are believers in everyone’s happiness, free will, ability to make decisions about their own life and body, then we should be open to accepting things like this in the workplace more and more. I love my teal hair. It’s sexy. It’s an expression. It’s very… “me”. And I’m happy to be in a place in my life that allows me to show my individuality in such a way. More of “us” in positive positions, showing responsibility and a relate-able nature, will only help the progression of people who are free to be themselves in the workplace just as much as with friends and family.