The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.


                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.






Ashley's Avenue

Social Stigma
When Will Employers See Past It?

by Ashley Murphy

There's something I've been thinking about a lot lately. It has its contradictory moments, but for the most part, rather straight forward. What exactly are the boundaries for discrimination? Sure, they're laid out as race, sex, age, religion, color, national origin, or disability. But what about tattoos and piercings?

Like I said, in my opinion, there are several contradictory moments. I believe people with tattoos and body piercings should be able to gain employment anywhere they wish. BUT, I do not believe ALL people with tattoos and body piercings should be able to gain employment just anywhere.

Some of you don't agree and say that I don't make sense. I can't really explain it. It's difficult and no matter how you spin it, it would be discrimination of some type if you pick and choose who to hire based on their tattoo/piercing placement and tastefullness of each. Still, I think something to that nature should be set in place.

When I was applying for jobs at "in-the-public-eye" companies, like realty companies, insurance companies and banks, several did phone interviews first, to weed out the bad seeds, I guess. And I also guess that I've been one of those "bad seeds," because I never get a call back after answering one of the first questions to be asked, "Do you have any tattoos or body piercings?"

Ashley Murphy
People News Assitant Editor

Do you have questions or comments? If so, e-mail Ashley at:

I had to answer yes. I have a tiny stud in my pierced nose and now have 7 tattoos. Those tattoos are small and tasteful. In a pair of pants, short sleeve shirt and slip on flats, only 2 of those tattoos are visible. If my hair is up off of my neck, then 3 would be visible. Those that are visible are a lady bug, celtic clover and a japanese symbol meaning 'beautiful.' Then, of course, my nose ring is visible...if you look closely. I, personally, don't understand why it's such a big deal. Plus, they could be covered if need be. It may have to be with a bandage, but it would be covered if it's such a problem.

Even full sleeve tattoos shouldn't be an issue. Sure, there are doctors and lawyers and bankers that it may receive backlash for it, but don't they usually wear those long sleeve button down shirts anyway? Why hold it against them?

A simple small nose ring, tongue ring or other small facial peircing shouldn't be held against a potential employee. Don't get me wrong, there are some out there (tats and piercings) that are pretty extreme and I don't see as working out somewhere like a bank, realtors office, law office, etc.

I know, I already said it's quite contradictory. I can't have it half and half, but I also don't believe that people like myself should be punished by potential employers because I have a couple of small, harmless body modificastions. If the question wasn't asked and I came in for an interview with my tattoos covered in clothing and jewelry and my nose stud changed to a clear retainer, these employers wouldn't even know! How about giving us a chance?!

I got lucky when I applied for this job, my tattoos weren't visible, I had them covered with clothes or jewelry. I did have the nose ring, but put in a clear stud that made it pretty much invisible. I kept it like that for quite some time until it was clear I wasn't made for the sales world.

Like I said....too extreme.

From then on, I stayed in the office everyday. The only other people I see at my job are delivery drivers and my co-workers. Once I started wearing my diamond stud again, it took my boss a couple of months to finally notice it. (That's how small it is!) He did tell me that it wasn't very professional, but didn't fire me for having it.

Also, since taking this job, I've gotten 4 additional tattoos than what I had when I started. All of them are visible. My boss and his wife treated me more like grandparents scolding their grandkid, than an angry employer. Their reactions were the same as my grandmother, "Why would you want to do that?"

I guess the main fact that kept me from getting fired was that no one ever saw me. They only heard my voice over the phone. But I would also like to think that they respected me as an employee and knew that a few spots of color on my skin didn't affect the work I did for them or my ability to complete tasks. They have now since retired, so I have started working for their son when he took over the family business. He is the same way. And I'm glad for that.

More employers - specifically those whose employees would be in the public eye - need to take on this kind of tolerance. I hate using that word. I really wanted to find another, but that's the way many people view it. They tolerate something out of their social norm. It's time to move on from that.

Like I said, my body art doesn't interfer with my work ethic. How about getting to know someone and giving them a chance before passing judgement?