Piercings and tattoos are works of art

Body modifications are meant to be seen and not hidden

Antonio Nevarez, Staff Writer

A butterfly tattoo.

When I was younger, I believed I would never modify my body in any way. My natural body was perfect. It is the way I was made, and I thought it was the way I was meant to be. I believed that if you modified your body in any way, you were ruining it and would later live to regret it. 

Once I entered middle school, I started to see my peers change their appearance in ways I didn’t expect for people so young and in school. My classmates were dying their hair, getting nose piercings and would often say, “once I turn 18, I am getting a tattoo.” 

My journey with self-expression through physical appearances started in eighth grade. I began to regularly dye my hair different colors throughout the year. If you knew me at the time, you would have seen me in my green hair era or my blue hair era or even my ‘‘it was supposed to be pink, but it turned orange and now I hate it” hair era. Hair was easy to experiment with because it helped me express my colorful personality. 

But at that point in time, I was strictly against the idea of ever getting tattoos, piercing my nose or getting a septum piercing. Why would I ever want to look like a bull? By the time I reached 12th grade, I had both a nose piercing and a septum piercing, with plans to cover my arms with tattoos. 

I am not sure what led me to this point in my life, but by the time I turned 17 I had learned the true purpose of body modification. Piercings and tattoos are not meant to be rebellious. They are art, an appreciation of art. 

To others, my septum ring may lead them to believe I am some sort of punk. Not because of what I say or how I behave but because of a metal ring in my nose, a metal ring that does not represent who I am as a person but instead compliments my character. But this idea is not shared with certain people whose opinions may determine whether or not I am employed.

I currently work at SeaTac Airport as a counter server, where employees are required to hide their tattoos and facial piercings. This requirement is not only disappointing but damaging. I am sure people that have considered modifying their body with a tattoo or a piercing have heard something like, “good luck finding a job with that on your body.” It is something I heard a lot growing up. But now that I have a tattoo of my own, I ask myself, why does it matter? It does not matter, but that is something not every employer would agree with. 

On my right arm, I have a tattoo that depicts a butterfly resting on top of a pinecone. I love this tattoo with all my heart because it is in tribute to my sister. But my workplace sees it as unprofessional. My favorite piercing is my septum piercing, but it is seen as inappropriate. My employers believe that if customers see my body modifications, it will make the company look bad. However, these modifications have become part of me. By hiding my beloved piercings and tattoo it feels as though I am being forced to conceal who I really am. 

As a business, I understand why it is important to want customers to see their employees as clean and professional. But as an employee that interacts with nearly 300 customers a day, I have noticed something that I have in common with many of them. Customers have tattoos too. They have septum rings. They have piercings that you may not see every day. They have body modifications just like me. So if customers have the same modifications as me, why do I need to hide mine for the sake of looking professional?

If you don’t have piercings or tattoos of your own, then you may not understand what it is like for people that do. When I’m without my septum ring, it feels like a part of me is missing. When I need to cover my tattoo, it feels like hiding a work of art from the world. 

People looking for a job should not have to worry about whether or not they should remove their studs, rings and cover their tattoos before an interview. By refusing to hire someone because of their body modifications, employers are proving that they are truly out of touch with their own workers and potential workers. The taboo nature of tattoos and piercings in the workforce is an old mindset that needs to end, and nobody should be rejected for the work of art that is their body.