Tattoos and piercings: expression or unprofessional?

Tattoos and piercings have become a popular way for the younger generation to express themselves better. Photo by Stone Ray | The Signal

On March 13th, I cried for more than 45 minutes before getting my first tattoo. Getting the tattoo itself only took 13. 

I now have three tattoos, a tiny tyrannosaurus rex, a crystal, and a small solar system. Each one has a different meaning but is equally important to my heart. If you were to tell a younger me that I would have three tattoos, four piercings and multiple different hair colors by my sophomore year of college, I would not have believed you. 

As kids, our parents put in our heads that tattoos and piercings were unprofessional, that you could only have a natural hair color to get a job, that our bodies were temples and needed to stay pure always. Of course, for some of us, that ended earlier than they expected. 

For generations, American culture has limited one’s self-expression. Everyone wants you to be yourself, but it has to be within acceptable standards. The culture of modern, corporate America has heightened these standards. 

Many companies prohibit their employees from expressing themselves through hair color, piercings or visible tattoos. Companies limit workers to “natural hair colors,” at most, one facial piercing and small tattoos that the employee can cover easily. 

Employees are given a limited ability to express themselves. Companies want to make cookie-cutter employees when no one is the same. We all work differently, act differently and dress differently. It begs the question, why do so many employees obsess over conforming to these standards? 

There is a website called, which has an article giving “10 Reasons Why Tattoos and Piercings Should Not be Allowed in the Workplace ”. While some may think these reasons are valid, many may beg to differ. 

As stated in the article, piercing and tattoos “ will scare away customers.” This sentiment is simply untrue. 

Given my personal experiences working at Starbucks, my tattoos are a crowd favorite and a great conversation starter. Another reason stated on the site, says that tattoos and piercings are “not beautiful.” 

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and ask yourself if the hiring process should be a beauty contest or based on talent and qualifications.”  While I agree that the hiring process should not be a beauty contest, having confident and more self-assured employees is more valuable, overall, to a company. 

Times are changing, and social graces are shifting in America. Some things might take a little longer. Accepting that self-expression through body art is normal can eliminate the social stance that people like me are unprofessional. 

Our art has meaning. What might seem dumb to you might mean the world to me.