Body Modification in the Workplace
I frequently hear of people being harassed by their employers over their body
modification choices. Sometimes even outright abuse. More frequently, limitations are put upon what can be visible at the workplace. For many this is a very personal attack, as body modification is a way of life. Those who are mentally and verbally abused should consider legal action, simply because abuse in the workplace should not be tolerated, especially at such a personal level. Company policies are another matter.
I have read
two news reports recently about company policies regarding body modification. It seems to be becoming a more popular topic, and I do not see it going away anytime soon. Many companies say that they are trying to provide a "nice environment" for their customers. This brings up the question what would qualify as a "nice environment." Their definition obviously excludes most visible body modifications. This seems to be a result from their primary patronage. Let us investigate that. I spoke to a variety of people about their opinion on body modification in the workplace. I discovered that most younger generations (less than 30-years-old) tend to be apathetic and do not find such things offensive. The consensus was essentially the same between people who participate in body modification and those who do not. I spoke to the older generations (30-years-old on up) and found that many more of them had a problem with body modification, in any form. Although many would accept ear lobe piercing on either sex, others within the same group had a problem with any visible modifications. The extreme opposition is more common between people above 40 and people of more conservative mind. With this in mind, you have to realize that a lot of company's policies will be based upon the customers' interests. For example, if you were to work at an indie (independent) record store or an indie coffee shop, you would probably be allowed to dress how you prefer and have any modifications you so desire without any problems with your employers. If you work at a corporate record store or a corporate coffee shop, you are likely to have problems from your employers. This is because the patronage of the former is younger and more liberal-minded, whereas the latter is more conservative and frequently older. You also have the IT (Information Technology) industry, which is a fairly young industry itself and therefore is comprised of a substantial number of people under 30. This industry as a whole is incredibly tolerant of body modification. Even corporations that are not IT based are quite frequently tolerant of visible body modifications in their offices if it does not involve representation of the company. Nevertheless, the latter is more likely to have a problem with visible modifications than the former. A lot of service industries aim towards people of all ages and types. Therefore, they are more likely to have a problem with visible body modifications. Some are more lenient, as it is often dependent upon the company. Specialty shops can also have a similar nature to the aforementioned "indie" establishments. Nevertheless, there is usually at least some limitation upon the employees. As time progresses many people will start to accept body modification, simply because it is becoming so commonplace. Due to this, eventually some form of acceptance will be common among the general populous. As generations die off, less and less people will have a problem with it. Society frequently dictates the establishments within. Although modification will become more accepted, there are still employment situations where employees will be restricted on the job. If they have a job where their modification could endanger them or perhaps make the job more difficult, there would be limitations. I imagine there could also still be specific occupations, although less common, where modifications would be limited simply due to a social stigma. However, most social prejudice will dissipate over time. Meanwhile, modified people are going to have to deal with the limitations set upon them. The limitations could be fought when justified and may be won. There is no reason to let your personal existence be compromised unless you choose to let it be. You are probably going to have a problem working at an expensive restaurant. Nevertheless, you will have less of a problem at a fast food restaurant; but there still may be compromises, such as working in the kitchen instead of serving food or hosting. How much you are willing to compromise is up to you. It is up to you to find your place in life and the industry that suits your interests and abilities and allows you the freedom that you desire. It is only a matter of time... ©2001 by White Vampire. Publishing rights granted to BME.
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 26 June 2001