Be careful how you express yourself

Jake Tapley

We live in a nation where freedom of expression is everything.

As Americans, we feel that being granted certain liberties (such as freedom of expression) is an integral part of upholding our constitution. We acknowledge there are certain exceptions that can be made to these generalities, but we also dismiss those exceptions as extremities to be dealt with using a separate standard.

It is no secret that people like to indulge in diversity. All you have to do is walk around a college campus to notice the differences in the way people choose to express themselves. Clothing, hair, fitness, body art – these are just a few of the superficial elements that we use to express ourselves. After all, we are a society that worships “the exterior.”

I feel that the latter of these elements, body art, should be taken into much consideration.

Unfortunately, not everyone is going to see eye to eye with you on the ways you choose to express yourself. Tattoos and body piercings, in particular, face an abundance of opposition. For the most part, this opposition is due to a generational gap. It is for our own benefit to acknowledge and come to terms with this gap.

I am most certainly not trying to imply that body art is a bad idea. I don’t want to give you the impression that “getting inked” is a “one-way ticket to Nowheresville.” I personally feel that nothing you put on your body is going to necessarily dictate your life – nor should it. I would just urge you to consider beforehand what you’re wanting done, where you’re wanting it done, who will be seeing it, and what they might think of it. 

Job interviews can be crucial, so a skull tattoo might not be the best thing for your boss to see when he first meets you (unless you’re interviewing for a position at a morgue or crematorium). So be smart about it. Plan it out. You can get a tattoo that is easily concealed, or you can apply for a job in which your daily attire will conceal it. Either way, everybody wins.

In the case of facial piercings, make sure that it isn’t so extravagant that it is going to diminish your chances of getting the job. The other option is to get a facial piercing that is easily removable, so as to meet the requirements of both you and your employer. Either way, everybody wins.

The bottom line is: body art used to be much more taboo than it is now. So when you’re out in the world making first impressions with your predecessors, just keep that in mind. These people could be your employers, co-workers, professors, friend’s parents or even fellow colleagues. The potential for aversive influence is across the board. So feel free to express yourself. Just be aware of the contingencies that accompany body art and conscious enough to know how to handle them in the most efficient way.