“Lawyers don’t have tattoos.” Who decided that, and in what time period?
At some point in my life, I unwillingly evolved into a “people-pleaser.” I’m not sure that is the best term, but for as long as I can remember, I tried to hide certain aspects about myself to “fit in” or to “impress” the right group of people, especially because I was different from 99% of the people around me (refer to my Outsider blog post). It seems we all do this to some degree, depending on the occasion, but how far is too far?
It is 2018. Yet here we still are, engulfed in this random, but strong, stigma surrounding tattoos, and not even just in the workplace. I constantly hear attorneys, other professionals, or just adultier adults characterize tattoos (or better yet) “people who have tattoos” as “inappropriate,” “unprofessional,” or “ugly.”
That may be your (sanctimonious) opinion; but HOW and WHY does your subjective judgment on a physical level translate into an objective statement about a person’s qualifications, personality traits, intelligence, or any other characteristics about that human being? Sounds absurd, if you ask me.
After I applied to law school and got accepted, before orientation week, I changed my nose hoop to a tiny stud, then before my last year of law school, as I was seriously applying to law firms, I took that tiny stud out. It may seem trivial, but I felt that it was part of my identity, and the 18-year-old in me cried.
I shouldn’t need to preface this, but I will… Trust me, I understand the value in professionalism and that appearances are important. What I do not understand is feeling pressure to wear long sleeves in 98 degree weather, because strangers or coworkers will pass judgment, solely based on my tattoos.
I’m not looking to work at a “big law firm” or to go into court baring all my tattoos – I probably wouldn’t do that even if it were “conventionally accepted,” but what about nights and weekends? In the summertime? ON VACATION?
Yes, we made a decision to get tattoos on our own bodies. And since it is our own bodies, and those tattoos hurt no one (other than ourselves, during the process), it has literally zero effect on you. Furthermore, some of those decisions happened long before we ever met you or started working in the same workplace as you. And since they are permanent, they are part of who we are now, and they always will be – literally, a part of who we are.
So, when do we stop playing their game? When do we have enough power to not care what they think? When will we have earned enough respect to bare our true selves to all?