Discrimination vs Poorly Planned Life Choices….

24 Apr

I’m gonna preface this post by saying I know that I’m probably going to get a lot of people mad at me by what I’m going to say.  And I don’t mean to alienate people or hurt feelings- this is just a monumental pet peeve of mine… so here we go.

My husband and my circle of friends primarily consists of people whose appearance isn’t what would be considered “the norm”.  Tattoos and piercings and counter-culture attire is our circle’s “norm”. It’s so common with our friends that when Sully was a toddler, he thought that people who weren’t heavily tattooed were all Grandparents because my parents were the only people he knew who didn’t have tattoos.  Birds of a feather tend to flock together and all that jazz.  When I was 20, I knew that I didn’t want to grow up and work in a cubicle and wear “work attire” with panty hose and endure “casual Fridays”- so to ensure that I would be shut out of that world, I got my forearms tattooed.  I did this with the intent of being socially cut off from the “Casual Fridays” world, which would force me to make my own way on my terms.  I don’t regret this decision at all even though it’s forced me to work harder and be more creative with how I make a living.

I’ve gotten in more arguments than I can count with friends about the fact that we’ve been socially “shut out” of many aspects of society (or looked down upon by the majority of society), and how they view it as ‘discrimination’.  There’s a group on Facebook called “Tattoo Acceptance in the Workplace” that I keep getting sent invitations to join.  The group rally’s against the ‘discrimination’ tattooed people face in finding jobs, and how it’s unfair.  There’s another group called “Taco Acceptance in the Workplace” that spoofs on the previous group… I joined the Taco group.

Let’s just clear something up right off the bat.  Discrimination is a very serious thing and not a situation to be taken lightly.  Discrimination is when you are kept down in life or degraded and belittled because of  race, gender, sexual orientation, age, or situations deemed as disabilities- things people  ARE BORN WITH, or cannot help because of life situations that are out of their control.  People do not CHOOSE to be born black, or female, or gay, or to grow older, or be in a wheelchair.  To deny someone of work because of these situations is horrible, and should be rallied against.  But to scream “DISCRIMINATION!!!” because you have a hard time finding a job with blue hair and a neck tattoo is not only the stupidest claim ever- but completely degrades what REAL discrimination is all about.

I grew up in the suburbs outside Kansas City.  An EXTREMELY conservative area that had little tolerance for anything that strayed from what was considered “wholesome average American”.  So in high school when I was looking for a job, I purchased a cute blonde wig to wear over my choppy hot pink hair, and got myself enough long sleeve shirts to cover up the tattoos that I had on my arms.  I took  my noserings out before every work shift, and wore earrings that masked the fact that my ears were sized up.  I CHOSE to have pink hair, tattoos and piercings- so I had to refit my appearance to fit into the ‘social norm’ in order to have a job that caters to the ‘social norm’. At 17 I understood this, and didn’t mind it one bit.  Because its common sense.

We live in a conservative country.  And in a national community, the opinions of the majority are what dictates the behavior of commerce.  Despite the fact that Kat von D has her own show and Angelina Jolie has some crappy tattoos, heavily tattooed people are still a novelty (and the fact that they ARE a novelty is WHY we know about Jolie’s crappy tattoos and WHY Kat von D has her own show).  Just because people like to observe the freak show doesn’t mean they want it in their daily life.  And if you chose to be a part of the freak show (which me and my husband have), then you have to live with the repercussions of that choice.  It’s one of the reasons why you have to be 18 to get a tattoo- because not many teenagers are able to see the “big life picture”, and might get permanent art on their bodies that they’ll regret later on down the road.

In my adult life, it has been difficult when looking for work because of my appearance.  But I always accepted that because businesses exist to make money- and if a business caters to the general public, and the general public is primarily made up of people who aren’t comfortable with the look I’ve CHOSEN… well, that hurts business.  And every business has the right to choose not to hire me because of my appearance choices.  If I take my clothing company to a trade show and I need an assistant to help me out, am I going to hire some girl with gigantic fake tits, an orange fake tan, and have her stand there in a bikini?  Of course not- because that’s not what my company and clients are about or even comfortable with.  Her appearance choices kept her from being hired by me because her appearance would hurt my business.  It’s the same thing with people who chose to get heavily tattooed.

Bottom line- tattooed people aren’t ‘discriminated against’.  To state that degrades every single person who actually HAS been discriminated against.  If you want to get a job in the general public, don’t get heavily tattooed!!  It’s that simple!!  Or get tattooed in places that you can easily cover up.  I have friends who are teachers, doctors, lawyers, and HIGHLY successful business people who are heavily tattooed- but they keep it covered up and it doesn’t effect their income or business at all.  It wasn’t that long ago in American history that the only people who had tattoos were carnies, convicts, and people in the military- so there still is a stigma attached to it. Just like there used to be a huge stigma attached to going to see a shrink- but in time that went away because it became commonplace to seek psychiatric help.  So in time, no one will think twice about tattoos because they are becoming more commonplace.  But until then- grow up!!!  If you’re 21 and thinking about becoming an elementary school teacher, a big tattoo on your throat or your hands could possibly throw up some roadblocks in your professional pursuit.  Hopefully it doesn’t, but if it does- you have NO RIGHT to bitch about it!  Have a little perspective and respect for the people in our culture who have to fight every day to find work and acceptance because they have been BORN with something that people discriminate against- not something they chose to do to their appearance.  Yes, it would be great if this wasn’t a barrier- but for now, it is.  So before you get those tattooed sleeves, consider your future and decide if you want to take that step.  If you are prepared to deal with the fact that it may make things a little harder for you (like I did)- then go for it!  But if you’re not willing to be looked at differently because of it- then don’t do it.  And for god’s sake- don’t whine about it after the fact.  It’s just childish.

Now that I’ve officially pissed off all my tattooed friends (sorry!)- feel free to yell.

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50 Responses to “Discrimination vs Poorly Planned Life Choices….”

  1. Lemissa April 24, 2010 at 11:38 am #

    Your rant is acceptable. But I did join the group. Not because I am so appalled by the “discrimination” of the tattooed…but because it is time for America to lighten-up a little. And I like looking at pics of tattoos…so I spent forever looking at all the pics on their page.

    lovelovelove,
    Melissa

    p.s. I am getting my first tattoo next Wed. I am scared.

    • Kristen Ferrell April 24, 2010 at 11:53 am #

      You’re right, lady. America DOES need to lighten up… on COUNTLESS issues. But I don’t like people using the word ‘discrimination’ so lightly, and in a situation that is self-inflicted.
      I’d rather people rally against REAL discrimination… or any of the millions of other sincere causes that are affecting our society. This just annoys me to no end because it’s such a ridiculous soapbox.

      What are you getting tattooed on you?! Don’t be scared!! The first 5 minutes hurt, but then your endorphins kick in and it’s a piece of cake. 😀
      lovelovelove right back at ya!!!

      • Lemissa April 25, 2010 at 11:05 pm #

        I am getting a Taurus sign with the Cancer symbol for eyes…on my left shoulder-blade…

  2. Angela April 24, 2010 at 11:39 am #

    I have tattoos, but I still agree with you. I don’t consider it discrimination when someone doesn’t hire you because you are covered in tattoos. Now it would be silly for someone not to hire you if you can cover up those tattoos.

    • Kristen Ferrell April 24, 2010 at 11:57 am #

      Every single job I’ve ever had that didn’t like my tattoos was 100% ok with me having them and covering them up. I think you’d be hard pressed to find a job that wouldn’t hire you even if you agreed to hide the tattoos. But even then- it’s 100% their right to make that choice. Just like it was 100% your choice to get the tattoos. And there are SO many jobs and industries out there that don’t care about things like this. OR people can do what Brad and I did (and most of our friends) and just create your own ‘workplace’ and start your own business. If you are your own boss, then you wont have any problems!

  3. Metro Catpiss April 24, 2010 at 11:43 am #

    makes sense, really. I got my “fuck-you-tattoos”, as i call them, for the same reason. o dont WANT to be part of that world. So my neck, thumb, and head all let anyone know up front.

    • Kristen Ferrell April 24, 2010 at 12:00 pm #

      All of the industries and workplaces that wouldn’t accept me are places that I would never want to work- so my ‘fuck-you-tattoos’ have never been a problem. But even when it was hard finding work, I never got pouty and stomped my feet because I wasn’t getting hired because of the tattoos. I did it to myself, so I’ve gotta own it. Common sense, people.

  4. whitney April 24, 2010 at 12:02 pm #

    i don’t think this blog should piss anyone off… because lets face it, it’s the truth! we CHOOSE to look like this, so of course, we are gonna be turned down from a job/company that doesnt want what we look like in their place. i too, knew this once i started getting my tattoos and piercings. i’m lucky that the job i have doesn’t mind my appearance, and i really love it! (the job, i mean). haha. but yeah, haha, i joined that “group” on fb, not cause i feel ‘disciminated’ (which is a poorly choosen word for that whole thing…). i guess, really, is that by now, you’d think people would be more accepting about people with tattoos and what not, which i think there are more people out there who are. but yes, there are still gonna be some old school, conservatives out there that we gotta recognize too… and they have every right not to like our appearance and we’ve gotta accept that too. uuhhh, i dunno what i was gonna say now. i lost my train of thought. why does that happen to me so much? but yeah, all in all, i agree with everything you say here!

    WHEEEEEEEEEE!
    <33.

    • Kristen Ferrell April 24, 2010 at 12:17 pm #

      You’d be surprised by the arguments I’ve gotten into with people about this, and how mad and entitled they get over it.

      You and I are used to seeing tattoos. We have surrounded ourselves with like-minded people, so sometimes we don’t understand what the big deal is. But the next time you go to the mall, or the grocery store, or the post office- sit and count how many people there look like you and me. The number is going to be very very low. Just because we see our appearance as commonplace doesn’t mean that the country as a whole does. And in fact, the country as a whole still isn’t used to people who look like us. We have to keep that in perspective and know that Average Joe American still dictates what society considers ‘the norm’. And Average Joe American isn’t covered head-to-toe with tattoos. Average Joe American looks average… and average is what they’re comfortable with.

  5. Ben Cave April 24, 2010 at 12:06 pm #

    Hi Kristen,
    I just want to thank you for writing this post. It’s a well considered response to the “Tattoo Acceptance in the Workplace” community. I’m glad you called-them-out on their bullshit.

    My arms are heavily tattooed, and I’m a white straight male. I know well-enough that although some people might approach me differently because of my tattoos, it does NOT mean that I am experiencing the same institutionalized discrimination and cultural violence as people who are born female, trans, gay, or black. As a white, straight male, I’ve pretty-much got the wind at my back on a daily basis; tattoos or not.
    (William Upski wrote some pretty good articles on the topic.)

    At work, I’ve never been asked to wear long sleeves, but I do. I cover-up just because I want the focus of my client interactions to be about my design, and not my arms.

    I just want to thank you for being brave enough to stand up and ask people not to trivialize real cultural discrimination and violence.

    • Kristen Ferrell April 24, 2010 at 12:58 pm #

      Thanks Ben!
      And DOUBLE Thank You for acknowledging the fact that since you’re a straight white male, you do have the upper hand (which is something that me and alot of my straight-white-male friends get into arguments about). I so very much appreciate your awareness and enlightenment. 😀
      In my current job, my boss has NEVER asked me to cover up anything, and he doesn’t care about the fact that I look unlike normal society. But when we have banking people or customers that wouldn’t be comfortable with how I look come into work, I make sure to keep my jacket on or I hide in my office so that I’m not seen. This is in NO WAY an expectation my boss puts on me- but something that I do in order to keep our business associates and some clients comfortable. Our jobs exist to make our employers money- not to be a fashion or political statement.
      I just really hate it when huge issues, like discrimination, get trivialized by ridiculous or self-inflicted situations. A few years ago I got into a monster fight with a buddy of mine who couldn’t get a job because he has a big tattoo on his face. It blew my mind that he didn’t see how potential employers didn’t want him to be the face that their customers see when they walk in the door. Just because you think it’s awesome, doesn’t mean the rest of the world will. And yes, he screamed “discrimination” throughout the entire argument. Unbelievable.

  6. Harmony Knowles April 24, 2010 at 1:08 pm #

    You have not pissed off this tattooed friend:) This keeps popping up on my page too. Ignore button is just faster for me to press than to explain the frustrations you just did.Plus you explain things so much clearer than I ever could! Thanks for taking the time to call bullshit on people-for people like me that don’t blog. My husband and I have also taken the “socially unacceptable” walk of life. We took the chance of “business flop” well knowing what may not be good for business. We have colored hair, dreads, hands tattooed, necks tattooed, and piercings. We do not do cover up of the tattoos in our business knowing that people will choose to not use us for services. That is fully our choice and suffer all repercussions gladly:) This choice has benefited us and hurt us. I agree that if you are not willing to cover up and you need to work in a work place that requires you to cover up than shut up. It is a temporary fix to get by in life. Work life is work life! Lots of people have “secrets” they don’t bring to work. We run foster homes for young people with mental illness and disability’s. These people can actually truly speak of discrimination. This whole discrimination thing really hits a sour note with me strictly because of being a discrimination advocate as part of our work! I am happy that we are highly accepted in our community looking the way we do. I’m fortunate to have choices. There are business meetings that I do cover up for even though I probably don’t need to just because I want to keep a comfortable atmosphere or it feels socially appropriate. (Maybe I’m just having fun:) Thank you Kristen for a well said discussion!

    • Kristen Ferrell April 24, 2010 at 5:38 pm #

      Thanks Harmony!!! And everything you wrote was exactly what I’m talking about. REAL discrimination is a very serious matter, is horribly destructive, and can have violent results. Tattooed people DO NOT fall in this category. It wasn’t until the late ’80’s and early ’90’s that the tattoo culture started to grow outside of the military, bikers, and inmates. So do people really expect that in a mere 30 years it will be fully embraced by everyone? It’s ridiculous. Not to mention infantile.
      And honestly, it never really has been THAT hard for me to find a job- and I look much tamer now than I did when I was younger. I knew what establishments would accept me and which ones wouldn’t- and I just went after the ones that would. And really, if I was able to find a job looking how I did in 1998 (back when tattoos hadn’t become as commonplace as they are now), these whiners need to shut the fuck up. My bank teller the other day had visable tattoos on her arm- so work can’t be THAT hard to find for tattooed people!!

      • Harmony Knowles April 24, 2010 at 9:01 pm #

        30 years from now is nothing! I think of all my 40’s fully tattooed women books and how non excepted that was. It is still really a thing for “outcasts” and it is 60 years later. I agree it will still be that way in 30 more to some in society. All this talk has made me think more about the job I do and not so much about the workplace group all this started with. I never really think about why I am so excepted. Chris had a theory that I get everything I want because people are intimidated:)Yes…that’s funny! My dad (who is now a women…really) thinks it’s a whole law of attraction thing for me.Yes…that’s funny too! I’m thinking now that the people we care for and their family’s like us so much because they know true discrimination. They have none towards us because they see through it,seeing they have endured true discrimination all their lives:( Maybe the young guys like us because we are, in their eyes, somewhat an equal.(just a thought) I have always accepted and been proud of them even when others gawk and laugh. We are here to build their well deserved confidence and to protect them from the freaky evils out there. Our business card reads,”Holding independence by the hand.” One of our guys was a star football player in high school and signs of schizophrenia started to show at age18. He got the hell beat out of him by a bunch of classmates for being different and now has traumatic brain damage. This is the real destructive and violent results you were talking about. That is just one story and one more reason for the workplace discrimination group to really shove it up there ass- it is not real discrimination!!! Boy you sure did get my mind rolling on this one. It looks like a lot of others minds are thinking too:) You are great Kristen!

        • Harmony Knowles April 24, 2010 at 9:16 pm #

          One more add on that made me smile…are people looking and laughing at us or our foster care? Hope it’s us. That would make me even feel better about my wonderful job!!!

  7. Sunny April 24, 2010 at 1:56 pm #

    So I’m on the run at the moment and will have to come back to read your full blog (only got though about half). I don’t have any tattoos, and I joined that group because I think tatoos aren’t and shouldn’t be a big deal. That said, no it doesn’t rise to the level of ‘discrimination.’ Put it this way: I agree that with them in principle, but if they were to form a nonprofit, I wouldn’t donate money.

    It’s similar to the way I think of being a vegetarian. It’s nice if people consider me when making meals, and with certain people (my husband, my best friend) I do expect it. But by and large I understand that being a vegetarian my choice, and that if anyone is going to be inconvenienced by it, it *should* be me.

    • Kristen Ferrell April 24, 2010 at 5:40 pm #

      I love your vegetarian reference. It’s dead on. Expecting the world to bend to our personal rules just because we want them to is for babies. Society doesn’t work that way. Some people just need to grow up and be realistic about life, and stop being so offended because the world doesn’t welcome everything they do with open arms.

  8. Kelly N. April 24, 2010 at 1:59 pm #

    Thanks for articulating this in a way that I haven’t even had time to formulate. I have tattoos and recognize that it is A PRIVILEGE to have access to jobs without having my skills be subconsciously doubted by a subconsciously racist or ableist interviewing committee. To choose to alter your privilege, then align yourself with people who never had the privilege, screams WHITE ENTITLEMENT to me. It’s one thing to deny yourself easy access to office employment with body art. It’s another thing to align yourself with other oppressed groups who never had the privilege in the first place. Maybe what pisses me off the most about this is that, because white people are the ones championing tattoo tolerance, they are more likely to get heard and taken seriously…the same way “indentured servants” were able to integrate into middle and upper classes before black folks. Tattoo acceptance will happen LONG BEFORE racial discrimination is over, and those are issues that people have been struggling to end for HUNDREDS OF YEARS. To my knowledge, no one has been lynched for having tattoos either. Do you really want to push yourself ahead of those issues because you don’t want to cover up the dolphin flower on your arm to work for IBM?

    Thanks for letting me rant in your comments section. 🙂

    • Kristen Ferrell April 24, 2010 at 5:52 pm #

      EXACTLY!!! Tattooed people aren’t oppressed!!! The notion is so retarded it’s embarrassing!!!
      This indignant attitude truly does stem from white entitlement. Because these white folks have never really been discriminated against, they now have their cause. But if they ever did experience TRUE discrimination, they would shut their mouths immediately.
      Feel free to rant in my comments anytime, and as much as you want!
      😀

  9. bob April 24, 2010 at 2:35 pm #

    i looked at the pics on that “workplace tattoo discrimation ” page… and I am pretty certain people aren’t against the fact that they have tattoos, i think it is that people are discriminating the people with shitty tattoos, i base this on the fact that almost every tattoo on that group is hideous.

  10. christine April 24, 2010 at 2:52 pm #

    Even though I did hit the ‘like’ button on this group, you are right. There is no way anyone can make a real case out of being discriminated against for having tattoos. There is no way I can do my job and expect people to take me seriously if I had my tattoos exposed. It’s hard enough that I’m so young and most older people think I have no clue what I’m doing, but if old school old people came in, it would totally affect the business. This is why I wear either suits, long sleeves, super thick/opaque stockings, I haven’t gotten tattooed in places that are impossible to hide (like hands and face) and most people I work with have NO CLUE I have any tattoos unless I show them. The normal reaction when they do see them is “WOW! I had no idea you had any tattoos!!” And I plan to stay that way. I can’t bitch and complain about not being able to show ink, because I CHOSE to get into a professional job.

    and Bob is so right. THE TATTOOS PEOPLE WANT TO SHOW OFF ARE TERRIBLE!!!!!!!!

    • Kristen Ferrell April 24, 2010 at 5:59 pm #

      You, of all people, know this best. When you’re dealing with the general public (and older generations)- especially in a serious work atmosphere- you are going to have a harder time being taken seriously. Whenever I go in to meet with my bank, I ALWAYS cover up as much of myself as I can because I want to appear as professional as I can.
      If someone’s only complaint is that they are judged because they have tattoos, they should consider themselves very very lucky. Because there are millions of other people who are judged far more harshly for things that they cant cover up with a long sleeve shirt.

  11. Kat April 24, 2010 at 9:19 pm #

    I agree that discrimination is too strong of a word. However, I think that in any non-customer service oriented job, visible tats or piercings shouldn’t be an issue. The person was not hired to be the “face of the company.” To me, it like requiring women to wear makeup and shave her legs. IF I was hired in a position where I was expected to impress John Q. Public, fine. I’ll slap on make up and revoke my wookie card. But in a cubicle farm where you only interact with other employees, or in manufacturing jobs, or call centers, or tech support… who cares who you are in your off time, so long as you do the job you were hired to do? I can understand a dress code- studies have shown that wearing “work clothes” helps keep folks in a productive mindset. A visible tattoo does not have an effect on productivity.
    Ultimately, I’m bothered by the intrusiveness of corporations into the private lives of employees. Mandating no tattoos and no piercings for folks who do not represent the company visually falls into that intrusiveness. HR people I’ve met socially say that folks with tattoos are considered to take more sick days, cost the company more in health care, come to work drugged up, and generally drag down productivity. This is bullshit, say my HR pals. But it’s still policy.
    That is why I joined the group. You and I don’t actually disagree on the terminology. It’s heavy handed. Neither do we disagree on the effect of employee appearance on clients. It’s when that effect doesn’t matter that the no-tattoo policy becomes idiotic and intrusive. That is what I’m protesting.

    BTW, I’m not pissed off at all. You stated your point intelligently. That never pisses me off!

    • Kristen Ferrell April 24, 2010 at 10:47 pm #

      I TOTALLY get what you’re saying. My first year out of high school I worked for Disney at the catalog order call in center. And even though I had green hair, a face full of metal, and my clothes were scruffy as hell- I got hired because I could type fast and was super friendly over the phone. Noone there ever dealt with a customer face-to-face, and the majority of the employees there looked like I did. It’s where all the punkers and goth kids worked because a Disney customer never saw us- we were just voices on the other end of the phone. And I agree- if customers never see your face, then what’s the big deal?! I’d adore it if this wasn’t an issue in any work situation. But the reality is that until the massive conservative stronghold eases up in our country- a lot of companies will judge a book by it’s cover. And as rational adults we have to realize that and decide how much we’re going to play the game. AND if we decide to not play the game, we had better have a solid back up plan on how to make a living… because even if we decide to not play the game, we can’t bitch about the fact that it’s going to continue without us.
      In turn, TONS of companies are using us tattooed folks to their advantage. I have a friend who used to work at Nordstroms at the makeup counter of some ‘edgy’ make up company, and she’s COVERED in tattoos (even on her face)- and that’s the look Nordstroms wanted for that brand. You go into H&M, Forever 21, Sephoras, Guess, Diesel, Urban Outfitters, The Apple stores, Best Buy, etc- and you’re going to see tons and tons of tattooed employees. Out here, you go into Home Depot or Starbucks and the majority of the employees have sleeves. There IS work out there in jobs that deal with the public for tattooed people… so I’m not quite sure why people feel so discriminated.
      The policies may be intrusive and are completely idiotic- but it’s one of the downsides of living in a conservative culture. We are all fully aware of just how uptight the USA is, and that isn’t going to change anytime soon. So we make the choice to play the game, totally buck the system and make our own game with our own company, or cheat at the game by doing what we want with our bodies and hiding it from the uptight morons. All 3 choices are fully acceptable alternatives. But getting angry isn’t going to make anything better any faster. And protesting it as an actual cause just takes attention away from sincere and traumatic causes that we should be paying attention to.

      I’m glad you’re not pissed off. Cuz you’re awesome! 😀
      xoxooxoxxo

  12. haley April 24, 2010 at 10:40 pm #

    I agree, and I joined the group due to the name (which doesn’t have “discrimination in it, I agree thats a totally different thing) because I’ve worked in a corporate business and it blows. I worked at jamba juice for a few months, and the people running that place are total assholes. I dyed my hair back to it’s natural color. The two little tattoos that I have are in places customers couldn’t see, and I flipped up my septum ring before every shift. I also have a nose stud that I would take out when i first started working there. I use a bone stud because i can’t ever get the screw ones in my nose and the bendable ones are a pain because i always somehow rip them out while i’m sleeping. So after a few shifts if taking it out and putting it back in, my piecing got REALLY irritated and I started getting an infection. So, I stopped taking it out. Mind you, it’s nothing crazy, just a plain white rhinestone teeny stud. A couple of my supervisors didn’t care, but then I got chewed out for it, which was kind of irritating since a few of my co workers had tongue piercings. They told me that it was a liability because it could fall into one of the drinks, and kill someone or whatever. Later I heard that is acceptable to have a clear retainer. So, a stud can fall out of my nose, but a retainer can’t, apparently.
    I understand that some businesses don’t want their employees looking like they just got outta prison, but it’s pretty stupid to hide that behind some fake legal bullshit. In addition to that, I doubt my benign, barely visible nose stud was making people think “oh god, never gonna go to jamba juice again!”
    There are also a lot of businesses that fully accept tattoos/piercings. I’ve seen many employees with piercings, especially at book stores, record stores, and even at drug stores, believe it or not.
    I totally agree with what you’re saying, but I do think that some body mods are more noticeable, or offensive for lack of a better word, than others. Sure, if someone has sleeves or a few obvious piercings on their face, maybe tone it down, but there are some that are pretty common that i don’t think people would be too bothered about.

    • Kristen Ferrell April 24, 2010 at 11:11 pm #

      The group didn’t have “discrimination” in the name, but if you scroll down through the posts it reads as if they’re starting a new civil rights movement. It’s their out of control outrage that gets under my skin- because this certainly doesn’t warrant outrage. Mild irritation… maybe. Outrage?…Definitely not.

      And yeah- most big corporations are going to have the “no visable piercings or tattoos” rules in the books. But that’s because they are major chains that have stores in the heart of NYC as well as in Oklahoma City… so they have to have those rules stated in there because even though the New Yorkers aren’t going to care about the body art, the Okies will. They have to cover all their bases.

      Yes… it’s totally stupid. But that’s America. And it’s one of those crappy things that we have to deal with, and decide how much we’re going to cater to it. My attitude has always been “fuck you” to the whole mess of it… which is why after high school I always worked at record stores or locally owned businesses that didn’t care about my appearance, or at places where I wouldn’t be seen by the customers. But the bottom line is that it really is our choice. And if you look at it from the corporations point of view, they aren’t there to be the open arms of acceptance- they’re there to make money. And in their eyes, if it’s possible that some customers might be uncomfortable by a tattooed or pierced employee- better safe than sorry. You know i’m in NO way ‘pro-corporate’- but if you look at the logic behind it, (and because I’m a business owner) I can see where they are coming from. Hence my analogy of who I would and would not hire to assist me at trade shows.

      But if you’re in Lawrence, Kansas and are heavily tattooed- go apply at any of the Juice Stops there. My ex-husband runs them, and he ALWAYS hires all the punkers and tattooed kids, and he’s sleeved out as well. It’s all about trying to get into the smaller companies or locally owned businesses. They usually don’t care as much (and are more fun to work for).
      😀

      • haley April 25, 2010 at 8:41 am #

        I guess I’m being irresponsible and not checking groups out before I join them. Oops!

        I live in a really small town, so almost all of the places here are locally owned. However, that also means that the same people have worked in the same places for 100 years or more and there are no job openings unless someone keels over. I’ve applied to a few places, and I got an interview with this fancy restaurant for a runner position. They didn’t seem to care about my piercing! I think I feel more likely that a business will choose not to hire me due to my height than due to my piercings actually.

        I would never normally work at a place like that, but I needed money and the job was damn near handed to my by the general manager, who was my neighbor.

        Like other people have said, I really wish it was just against the rules to display BAD tattoos and piercings. I swear, I never see anything but butterflies, Japanese scripture, and eyebrow piercings.

        • Kristen Ferrell April 25, 2010 at 2:22 pm #

          I totally know how you feel about finding a job that’s not corporate. Where I lived in Kansas was a small town too, and you practically had to inherit jobs from previous employees at the locally owned businesses or be super good friends with the owners. I’ve had to work the corporate gigs- but it was always in situations where I didn’t interact with the customers because I wouldn’t be able to get a corporate job any other way.
          But most places are getting really good about things like tiny little nose rings or super small tattoos. So that does make things a little easier. 🙂

  13. Amy Beukelman April 24, 2010 at 11:26 pm #

    Kristen –

    I love your perspective. You are highly enlightened. It’s not much different then back in the 60’s when people grew long “hippie” hair and were all about free love and tattoos. You have chosen a life for yourself and you are living proof that you can have ink, piercings, dyed hair and STILL be accepted in the everyday. It’s not about your appearance, but who you are as a person/employee etc. Elwood has a Burlesque Dancer who is one of his Graphic Designers. She normally has Pink & Black Hair, along w/ her multiple “rose” tats and crazy 4″ Pumps (at work). Does he care??? NOOOOO!!! It just bring more to the diversity of his company. It’s all in the perspective. I think you are AMAZING! Keep up the good work, tats & all. Luv you girly

    • Kristen Ferrell April 27, 2010 at 9:58 pm #

      Amy… you’re so rad. And yes- it is the EXACT same thing as long-haired hippies from the ’60’s. That’s a great point! Noone thinks twice about guys with long hair, but back then they couldn’t get jobs either.
      luv you too, girly!!!! (and tell Elwood he gets a thumbs up from me!!)
      😀

  14. Jancy Morgan April 25, 2010 at 2:26 am #

    Even though I have a thousand other things I should be doing, I am so glad I took the time to read through this entire blog, the responses and your subsequent replies.

    Kristen, you are one of those rare people with common sense and an uncanny ability to see through the bull – but the icing on the cake is that you are not afraid to speak your mind.

    I agree wholeheartedly with everything you have said here.
    I do not have any tattoos myself, although I have drawn plenty of them for others.
    I have the utmost respect for tattoo artists – as they are working on a ‘canvas’ that sweats, wiggles, bleeds, stretches, moves and complains!
    Yet I have seen some tattoos that were breathtaking.
    That does not, however, mean that an employer should give the nicely tattooed person a job.

    We met some awesome individuals as part of the OzzFest tour (a true gallery of tattoos, piercings and sheer individualism), one of which was an Emergency Room physician. He was one of our regular customers who sought us out each year and his belief on appearance was so parallel to what you have expressed. He explained that if his patients (many of whom are already in shock) were greeted by tattoo sleeves, nose and eyebrow piercings, etc. that many would never recover.
    So by day, he wears the appropriate clothing and leaves all the jewelry at home (with a face that he keeps in a jar by the door), but every year he would go to as many locations as he could to live in his private world of heavy metal and one per-centers.
    As you have so eloquently stated, we all make choices throughout our lives and we have to live with those choices as best we can.
    We cannot expect others to cater to our whims and we certainly cannot squeal ‘discrimination’ just because our individualization is not welcome in mainstream arenas.
    So many people these days want to express themselves by way of outward appearances – ranging from tattoos to skull implants, or by whatever means they can conceive that will be contrary to the general populace.
    When John Q. Public fails to welcome their altered state with open arms, they squeal like a stuck pig like they are aghast at this response.
    That makes no sense at all, when many of these trends are contrived specifically to defy mainstream America.
    I am too chicken to make any of my statements as permanent as a tattoo, but I applaud the unique personalities define originality.
    But originality and discrimination are in different zip codes.

    Previously, I have only read your comments and status updates as I stumbled across them, usually on News Feed, but I am now a true fan and I am going to make sure I follow your blog.
    Who knows, I might learn something new – and bust that myth “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”…

    • Kristen Ferrell April 27, 2010 at 9:56 pm #

      Thank you so much for your sweet words!!
      If I decided to wear nothing but trash bags for clothing, shaved my head and glued feathers all over my scalp- I could say that I was making an artistic statement fighting the ‘beauty norms’ of our society. If I walked into Borders looking like this and asking for a job, I don’t think they’d even hand me an application to humor me. Even if I thought I was making the most eloquent, powerful, and important statement ever, and I was just ‘expressing myself through my appearance’, that doesn’t mean that the general public has to accept it as something they want to be around.
      Work and play are 2 different things. And if your play hurts the ability for your work to make money, then you will be shut out of jobs. It’s the grown-up world, and that’s just how it has to be right now.

  15. myshinyhell April 25, 2010 at 6:04 am #

    I got my tattoos in places they could be easily hidden because I grew up in the conservative Midwest and knew they would keep me from getting hired at jobs otherwise. I completely agree with you on this issue and couldn’t have stated it any better.

    In short: I think your brain is a very brilliant place and I love your writing. xoxo.

    • Kristen Ferrell April 27, 2010 at 9:49 pm #

      Your brain is an even better place, and I want you to write more!!! (I follow your blog now, so I’m waiting!!)
      xoxo

  16. Addycat April 25, 2010 at 9:21 am #

    Here in San Francisco, it seems that some public serving establishments ONLY hire people with tattoos. When I’ve thought about working at some of them, I realized I didn’t have ENOUGH visible tattoos to be considered. Of course, I didn’t REALLY want to work there and I’m sure if I qualified, they’d hire me. It’s really interesting that certain establishments are filled with workers that are ALL heavily tattooed (forearms, hands, necks, etc) and pierced (lots of facial piercings, stretched earlobes, etc)

    • Kristen Ferrell April 27, 2010 at 9:47 pm #

      I think that’s how it’s getting to be alot of places- or at least in major cities. Which just makes these claims even more ridiculous. Yes, it might take a small town in Idaho to catch up to what’s accepted in San Francisco or Boston… but it will happen. Everyone just settle down.

  17. J April 25, 2010 at 11:19 am #

    yeah, in San Francisco you hardly ever see people without tattoos. and my Russian friends (even those who are far from any kind of “counterculture”) are getting tattooed left and right. i’m considering having a tattoo, because I think that tattoos are beautiful and sexy. but the “nonconformist” part of me hisses that the desire to have a tattoo is partly motivated by the unconscious desire to “fit in” in San Francisco where tattoos are the norm. so i’m still thinking.

    • Kristen Ferrell April 27, 2010 at 9:45 pm #

      My husband makes it a point to mainly wear long sleeves to cover his tattoos all the time now because SO MANY douchebags have tattoos out here, and he doesn’t want to be lumped in with them. Ha! But we live in douchebag central, so his reaction is common with good-minded folks.
      😀

  18. LRA April 25, 2010 at 2:21 pm #

    Girl, you are such a cool person. I wish I knew you in real life (let me know if you’re ever in Austin!). Anyhoo, my boyfriend has the most beautiful tatoo down his back, which he keeps covered up for some of the reasons you have mentioned. He doesn’t want any “visible” tatoos (aka what can’t be covered with tee-shirt and jeans). Now, on to discrimination… my boyfriend is also blind. He has a seeing-eye dog and there are plenty of people who don’t want to let him into their business establishments because of his dog. Now, *that* is discrimination! You should see me go into bitch-smack mode when it happens. I am a former sp. ed. teacher and can quote the law off the top of my head. No one has told us “no” since we’ve been dating!!! LOL!!!

    • Kristen Ferrell April 27, 2010 at 9:43 pm #

      Thanks lady!!
      I have a hard time stomaching petty claims of injustice when there is SO MUCH REAL discrimination going on out there!
      And for people to latch onto such a ridiculous cause with everything that is broken in the world makes me slap a whole lot of faces.

      • LRA June 3, 2010 at 11:31 pm #

        I donno why I thought of this recent post, but I felt I should let my blind boyfriend shine:

        I think he is soooooooooooooo hawt!!!!!!! LOL!!!!!!!!

        • LRA June 3, 2010 at 11:37 pm #

          ps. the dog is his guide dog, Rasha (which means little female gazelle the way the English word philly means little female horse). 😀

        • Kristen Ferrell June 4, 2010 at 12:38 am #

          That is sincerely amazing!!!! Tell your fella he has totally blown my mind!!!!!

  19. Deirdre April 25, 2010 at 7:26 pm #

    You are right on Kristen. I am totally flabbergasted by people who CHOOSE a lifestyle and then can’t handle the repercussions. Get a grip people. I checked out that group, and now I REALLY want a badly done wolf tattoo. 🙂

    • Kristen Ferrell April 27, 2010 at 9:44 pm #

      I kindof want a really bad wolf tattoo, too. Ya wanna go get matching ones? On our necks?

  20. Lissa April 27, 2010 at 9:28 pm #

    I think the attitude of business owners is catching up with the attitude of the general public which, in New Zealand at least, tends towards “so it’s a tattoo, what’s the big deal?”. The ones with the power are always the last to cotton on! Boo!

    I read in some newspaper that these days in NZ, around 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men have at least one tattoo. Possibly a bullshit statistic, but there are definitely people with tatts everywhere you go here, town or city.

    Acceptance, it is happening 🙂

  21. jamie April 30, 2010 at 5:35 am #

    where i work, we can look however we want, since no one sees or hears us. they don’t have to have that policy, but they really like a diverse workforce of people and the wide range of hours availability it brings. [the one in madison is 24/7, we are 20/7] also, i think they realize how much harder it would be to find enough employees if there was a strict dress code, considering we are unseen and unheard. a friend of mine works in a call center, but doing totally different work, however, she has a dress code because other departments and vendors have access to their call floor.

    a friend of mine who is heavily tattooed and pierced lucked out with a job in the city public works here. in her particular office, she has to dress professional, but they are not concerned with the rest, as long as she does her work.

    also, i went to the disney training, but i didn’t take the job. i did work at the pizza hut ordering center thing, though. and, i remember you in your wig, it actually worked really well with the theme of the restaurant and i always thought it an ingenious solution on your end.

  22. Gretchen May 20, 2010 at 3:06 pm #

    Maybe someone else has already said this, but I have a tattoo on my wrist, that’s about three inches high and the width of my wrist, and I have worked everywhere from elementary schools, to colleges, to the New York Times so I think tattoos might be generally more accepted nowadays for better or worse. Also I have loads of friends who was public school teachers with sleeves and tattoos on their forearms, maybe the school system in NYC is just fucked and desperate but it seems to be A-OK.

  23. mike(stix) July 26, 2010 at 2:50 pm #

    cudos to all that have posted.. kristen you rock .. and i guess brad does too 🙂 tattoos are a choice period so dont get them if your gona be a cry baby about it later .. simple

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