Near the end of the summer last year, I had finally decided to get my left ear pierced. I struggle with OCD, so I’ve never been super keen on wearing jewelry, or even watches, so getting my ear pierced was going to be a new experience. I got a double helix piercing and loved it.
But after starting a new job, I was told I couldn’t wear either of them, not because they weren’t allowed, but because I was a boy.
The rules clearly stated workers were allowed at least one piercing per ear as long as they didn’t dangle much, but because I was a boy, I couldn’t wear any. I was infuriated, even more so because it had cost me nearly $50 and would certainly heal over, which it has.
Months later, I am now planning on getting the first in a series of tattoos I’ve been wanting for years. I’ve now been told I would almost certainly have to cover them all up with a long-sleeved shirt, even though I work in the back of the house.
The longer I persue a degree in law, the more formal events I find myself attending. And formal attire is, more than anything, supposed to be clean cut. No boys wearing earrings or tattoos showed with pride. Work appropriate attire consumes my closet and my life.
Growing up wearing uniforms, the transition into middle school was new but certainly welcome. As an adult, I find myself wearing uniforms more and more, even as I struggle to learn about and express myself more. I grew up with a mom who had tattoos and certainly never found anything wrong with them, but even she warns against getting them anywhere they can’t be hidden for fear of “losing out on job opportunities.”
These uniforms and work attire seem counter intuitive to everything I’ve learned is healthy to do, from expressing yourself to being comfortable. I understand wanting to put out an image, especially for businesses, but that doesn’t make it any less uncomfortable or degrading. I certainly work better when I’m comfortable and feel better when I can be myself.
After years of debate and forensics, which practically mandated suits, I hate that I’m told I can’t wear what I want or show myself as I am. Nothing about hiding yourself to appear clean cut and work appropriate sounds appealing to me and is certainly nothing I can see myself living with in any career capacity.
My grandpa used to be a banker but is now a driver for an oil company. When I ask him about why he switched, he often tells me he’d rather die than ever have to wear a tie again, and only now can I appreciate that