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My Body is not my Resume

Have you or someone you are closer to ever experienced discrimination based on your looks, your hair, or maybe your tattoos? Have you heard people say: Tattoos are unprofessional or maybe a bright hair color makes you look less professional? Probably.

Even in 2022, people often determine one's professionalism based on their looks or what they wear. While things are getting better, there is still a lot of fuzz about what “professional” actually is. There are still jobs that prohibit people from having tattoos at all and hiring managers who won’t hire people with tattoos still exist. Even today, some people think of tattooed people as some sort of shady criminals.

I have multiple tattoos and two years ago I shaved my hair off. While I love my tattoos and plan on getting more, I do have them in places where I can cover them up with pants or a jacket in case I need to, which is sad, but in many industries still necessary, even in 2022. When I shaved my head, I had many people tell me to not update my LinkedIn photo as I looked less hirable (whatever that means). I did nonetheless and I did get hired, but even my hiring manager asked pretty much the first question why I had such short hair as if that would impact my capabilities to do the job he hired me to do.

BUT tattoos, your hair cut and color or any other form of body art is a form of self-expression. Especially tattoos can carry a lot of meaning and tell someone’s story. My tattoos definitely do. Sometimes, they even help people heal from specific traumas by covering scars or building up someone’s confidence. Maybe they are just a way of remembering someone special. Even if they don't have a specific meaning, they are a form of art and people can use their bodies as a canvas to whatever extent they please. People are often too quick to judge people with tattoos for no reason whatsoever. It's ok if you don't want them on your body, but let other people do with their bodies what they want without creating more prejudice against them and making it more difficult for them in the workplace.

Having tattoos in no way affects my way of working, my dedication, and my professionalism. On the contrary. If I can sit still for 5 hours while someone pokes a needle into my skin, doesn’t that show how capable I am of sitting through long meetings ;) But, jokes aside: Personally, I feel better in my skin with my tattoos, they make me more confident and, thus, better at what I do. They bring me joy and let me express what I want to show the world. By helping me to be more myself, I get better and better at what I do.

So, if you have any form of body art or you plan on getting it, don’t be afraid to be yourself. If your boss or company does not want you because of your tattoos or your hair color, do you really want to work for them? Prejudice comes in many forms and if they think tattoos reduce your capabilities, what other prejudices might they have?

It’s important to be your authentic self to do your best work and be your best. Don’t forget that.

For Femme Lead,

Beccy Willems

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