Views changing on body modifications

Timmy Wolfe, senior in ceramics, works in the basement of Willard Hall on Jan. 27, 2015. (Mason Swenson | The Collegian)

Views on body modifications in the workplace have become an issue for many students as they decide whether or not changes like tattoos, piercings and colored hair could possibly become a hinderance in future job opportunities.

“I think at the end of the day, it’s how (students) authenticate themselves,” Kerri Keller, executive director of Career and Employment Services, said.

Keller said the culture of the company is something that job seekers should consider when they are planning their body modifications.

“I think it’s not as much of an issue as viewed earlier in a different generational time, though there’s certainly some controversy still,” Keller said.

Tucker Claxton, senior in art education and ceramics, said tattoos were previously only associated with sailors and convicts, but that attitude is changing.

“The idea of professionalism is changing,” Claxton said. “I don’t want those jobs that are that closed minded.”

Ryan Moos, junior in music education, said the career a person wants to go into should be factored in when someone is considering bodily modifications.

“Students will see a (teacher’s) nose ring or a tattoo and ask if it hurt,” Moos said. “It would be an everyday occurrence. It would be a distraction in the classroom.”

Even though Moos has a tattoo, she said she chose to get it in a place that is easy to cover up. According to Moos, many of her peers do the same.

Keller said some students might wait until they are established in their career before getting more visible bodily modifications.

“Making a first impression is not just with their first job,” Keller said.

Keller said many students’ first jobs will not be their last. She said she recommends looking at the company’s website or talking with someone within the company, as each businesses’ culture could be different.

An accounting firm might have more restrictive dress and appearance standards than the director of a youth center, where tattoos might actually help someone connect with the youth more, Keller said.

“Society is changing and becoming more accepting (of body modifications),” Timmy Wolfe, junior in ceramics, said.

Wolfe said he would like to one day teach at the college level. He said he does not believe his tattoos would be an issue because he has many graduate teaching assistants and professors with piercings and tattoos.

“The main thing is you don’t want to rule yourself out,” Keller said. “If you have (body modifications), you just have to figure out how to help people get over it.”

Kelsey Kendall
Hi everyone! I'm a senior in journalism and cultural anthropology. My favorite things are storytelling, coffee and meeting new people. In that order.