Today I had an interesting conversation on social media about the correlation between tattoos and piercings and a lack of professionalism in the workplace, specifically in the education field. Let me begin by saying that I have both tattoos and piercings and have been an educator for the past thirteen years. Of those years, I have always been regarded as an exemplary teacher by my supervisors as well as my colleagues. The way that I choose to express myself has never been an issue nor has it impeded me from being a true professional.
Frankly, I take offense to statements that suggest that people with tattoos or piercings are inappropriate or unprofessional. My excellence as a teacher should not depend on how I look or what I’m wearing. As a matter of fact, some of the least qualified or unprepared educators that I have encountered throughout my career had neither tattoos or piercings so what does that say? The way that I choose to express myself or my individuality does not give others the right to judge me or to make assumptions about how qualified I am to educate children.
People get tattoos and piercings for different reasons. Some get piercings due to their religious beliefs or cultural traditions. Others get tattoos also for cultural reasons or in memoriam of their lost loved ones. I personally got my wrist tattoos of my sons’ names to give me strength through a Cancer diagnosis. The point is that nobody has the right to draw conclusions about who we all are as people due to these exterior adornments. They do not define us as people.
Obviously I feel passionate about this topic because I have both tattoos and piercings but this issue is much bigger than how I feel. It is about the misconceptions that contribute to stereotypes or that give others fuel to discriminate against others because of the way that they look. Where will we draw the line? Is it okay to judge a person because of their tattoos but not okay to judge them based on their race, gender, or sexual orientation? In my opinion, we tread upon dangerous waters when we entertain any conversations that marginalize any group of people, even those with tattoos and piercings.
So, to end this post, no my personal preferences about my appearance have no bearing whatsoever on my ability to do my job as an educator. To even imply that is completely offensive to me and to the hundreds of thousands of teachers on the front lines who do a great job daily despite having tattoos, piercings, or any other physical trait that might ruffle the feathers of the status quo. It is those who judge who should be apologizing for their narrow mindedness and not the other way around…
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