2021+is+the+year+of+body+mods+in+the+workplace

Sofia Gratton

2021 is the year of body mods in the workplace

September 7, 2021

Getting yelled at by a stranger is the definition of a bad way to start your day.

I was at work during my sophomore year of high school when an older man came in and decided to comment on my hair color. And then kept commenting.

“You have your whole life ahead of you, why do you feel the need to do that to your hair? It’s really a shame,” he said.  

He insisted young people ruin their chances of getting jobs and having careers with crazy hair colors, piercings and tattoos.

I was in my first retail job and my hair was very teal. When I had the job interview for it, my hair was bright pink. 

Clearly, I did something right to get that job and my hair was the last thing my employers were worried about. 

As our generation goes into the workforce, body modifications are becoming more and more common. As of 2018, 47% of millennials have at least one tattoo, according to an Aug. 31 2018 Wall Street Journal article.

It is well past time for the stigma around body modifications in the workplace to be over.

Transforming and dying your hair can cost between $150-$400, not including the cost of monthly upkeep, according to a June 14, 2021 Living Gorgeous article.

Of all the body modifications I person can get, tattoos are the most expensive of the bunch. At Onyx Ink, a popular tattoo parlor in Burlington, they price their work at an $80 minimum plus $150 per hour after that, according to their website’s pricing guide. 

My least expensive tattoo, which I got in Winooski, cost me $375. 

It took a long time to save up for, required lots of research, as well as sitting for three hours to get the tattoo.

The cost and effort required for these modifications should allow body modifications to be seen as an art form instead of a sign of bad judgement or low status.

People tend to forget that a person’s physical appearance is no reflection of their abilities or skills.

About one-third of companies no longer have problems with visible tattoos or non-traditional hair colors in response to a changing world with more acceptance of body modifications, according to a Dec. 18, 2019 Accountemps survey.

As millennials and Gen Z enter the workforce and find themselves in higher professional positions, the stigma surrounding body modifications has lessened. However, this stigma is still something felt by everyone with body modifications who has interviewed or started a new job.

I began a new job this summer, and I am still nervous to show my tattoos. Yes, I have been working there for two months, but I feel I have to prove myself as a hard worker so my tattoos don’t make me seem unprofessional. 

This is especially challenging for college students who are just figuring out who they are and who they want to be. The ease of finding body modification spots in a college town does not make this restraint any easier.

In Burlington alone, there are at least 13 tattoo shops within walking distance of campus, as well as a number of spots to get piercings and 20 hair salons, according to Google Maps as of Sept. 2.

I now have four piercings, three tattoos and have had about 12 hair colors, with no comments from my employers and lots of luck with getting hired. 

Clearly, that stranger didn’t know what he was talking about. As I continue pursuing my passions and careers, I can’t wait to earn some money for more tattoos.

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