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Body Modifications Still Hinder IT Professionals? 1461

thedeletekey writes "The Detroit News recently ran an article about body modifications in the workplace. This got me thinking; do body modifications such as tattoos and piercings still hinder IT professionals in the workplace? Or is this a thing of the past, as these types of personal changes have become more common in recent years. In my experience, I've found both stringent dress codes requiring business casual attire, and no visible body modifications, to no dress code at all. What has the rest of the IT world found to be common?"
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Body Modifications Still Hinder IT Professionals?

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  • No biggie (Score:3, Informative)

    by Kyrka ( 20144 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @08:39PM (#12798456) Homepage
    It's never hindered me - I have pierced ears and visible tats.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 12, 2005 @09:33PM (#12798889)
      The tatoo I got in the Navy never hindered me either. But my penile implant which isn't usually noticable did me in. One day I was sitting kind of funny with one leg underneath me and jiggling the other leg while I was debugging some code. It evidently was compressing the pump inside the scrotum a little at a time when I did that and over the course of an hour my member became completely erect. Not being sexully excited at the time I didn't notice that it had happened because my mind was so fixed on the programming problem I was solving. Well my pants are kind of loose because I recently grew out of my 46 inch waist pants and now I am sitting comfortably in some 48 inchers. So when I finally got up to stretch my legs and get a couple of mountain dews in the lunchroom it must have looked like I had a ferret in my trousers. And I couldn't see it when I stood up because well... when you start wearing 48 inch pants you'll understand. I got some pretty strange looks especially when I passed through the lobby and said hello to the new receptionist. There were also some visitors from japan waiting there and they just laughed nervously and bowed. I stopped and bowed back at them and tried to talk to them but they didn't speak any english. I can only imagine what they were saying to each other. I probably would have gone the rest of the day unaware except that jerk from the shipping dock was in the lunchroom and he made some crude remarks that gave it away. I had to squeeze into corner beside the soda machines and reach down into my pants to reach the pump. (You have to hold the release on the side to make it deflate.) So every since then the guys in the office have been calling me Omar the tent maker. I'm not sure what that is supposed to mean but I figure my chances for promotion are pretty much shot now.
    • Re:No biggie (Score:5, Insightful)

      by shakezula ( 842399 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @09:40PM (#12798942)
      I agree. I live in a small (pop. 50K) town in Idaho; however, I work for a HUGE "business casual" corporation that set up shop here. I have gauged ear lobes and tats on my arm and the back of my calf. I've never had anyone give me flack for either.

      Its all common sense. I don't flaunt either, and know when it is appropriate to remove the CBR's or wear long sleeves. I think its all relative.
  • Body Mod's (Score:5, Funny)

    by WordNA ( 891279 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @08:40PM (#12798464)
    The guy had several high speed fans attached to his body, something about overclocking and caffeine. They proved a real distraction to the other workers...
  • tattoos (Score:3, Interesting)

    by St. Arbirix ( 218306 ) <> on Sunday June 12, 2005 @08:41PM (#12798469) Homepage Journal
    The military has no problem with those. There's your new IT opportunity. Of course, it's the military.
    • Re:tattoos (Score:5, Informative)

      by CamMac ( 140401 ) <> on Sunday June 12, 2005 @09:01PM (#12798626)
      Just to be nitpickin...

      The military does require that its members be capable of presenting a professional apperance. Tats, while the traditional mark of someone about to kick your butt, are not allowed on skin that is visible while wearing a long-sleeved dress uniform. Peircings are limited to women (1 pair, in the ears. Conservative single stud or single pearl. No hoops or danglies), or off duty and far off post.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 12, 2005 @08:41PM (#12798470)
    It's a sign of maturity. Barring religious reasons, one should not wear any form of *visible* modifications outside of those that are generally acceptable (e.g. lobe piercings in women). Anything else shows you're immature and trying to be "different" when really you're just another idiot.
    Stand out of the crowd by what you do, not what you look like. Anything else is just juvenile.
    • by Tri0de ( 182282 ) <> on Sunday June 12, 2005 @08:55PM (#12798572) Journal
      I see your point. And keep my tat covered up at work, but any corporation that ACTUALLY wants the only kind of diversity that really matters (in the survival sense), which is diversity of viewpoint, should expect that people who think in 'different' modes might have a different appearance. If I was hiring coders, designers or marketers I think that piercings and outrageous tats would be s sign of 'out of the box' thinking (well, more of a indicator if the possibility that the modified one was an original thinker, they might just be a following sheep, but at least they are following something besides Bschool clonishness.)

      Just my .02 worth.
      • by applef00 ( 574694 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @11:15PM (#12799592) Homepage
        Ummm... out of the box thinking? Tattoos and piercings are considered trendy now. Is Lindsey Lohan "out of the box" for having "la Bella Vita" tattood on her back? Or is she just another girl that's following a trend? I'd hazard a guess and say that the vast majority of those that have tattoos now are just following one trend or another. And following trends is most definitely not out of the box.
    • Well said! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by aquarian ( 134728 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @09:06PM (#12798665)
      It's a sign of maturity. Barring religious reasons, one should not wear any form of *visible* modifications outside of those that are generally acceptable (e.g. lobe piercings in women). Anything else shows you're immature and trying to be "different" when really you're just another idiot.
      Stand out of the crowd by what you do, not what you look like. Anything else is just juvenile.

      Well said!

      One thing I've noticed -- and it's not just that I'm getting older -- is that young adults are a lot less mature than 20 years ago. In many ways they're more sophisticated, have more general knowledge, and may even be smarter, but what they are not is "adult." College age people are much more like teenagers now than young adults. Professors I talk to bitch about this a lot, having witnessed the decline.

      Where am I going with this? These days adolescence seems to last until about 35, with all the juvenile behavior that goes with it.
      • One thing I've noticed -- and it's not just that I'm getting older -- is that young adults are a lot less mature than 20 years ago

        Sorry to break it to you pal, but it's just that you're getting older.
      • by Paradise Pete ( 33184 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @09:31PM (#12798860) Journal
        young adults are a lot less mature than 20 years ago

        I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words... When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise [disrespectful] and impatient of restraint.

        That was said by Hesiod, 2700 years ago. And Socrates (may have) said:

        The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.

        So it may be simply that your perspective has changed :-)

        • Re:Well said! (Score:4, Insightful)

          by bgog ( 564818 ) * on Sunday June 12, 2005 @11:35PM (#12799740) Journal
          I agree there are issues in the areas you mentioned. However I take issue with the concept of respecting elders. In my opinion (amoung adults) age means very little. Experience, yes! Capability, yes! Wisdome, Yes! These are all good reasons to show respect. But age it's self means nothing.

          Respect is something that has to be earned and I know 25 year olds that are twice as capable, wise and worthy of respect than some 50 year olds.

          The concept made some sense in ancient tribal society where it was a pretty good bet that the old people killed more buffalo so probably were better at it.

          How about I respect the 30 year old, hard working, responsible father of two instead of the 40 year old dead-beat-dad guy who doesn't pay his bills and often mises work because he's two hung over.

          In general this doesn't exactly apply to children but still it is more a "respect adults" thing than respect the older people more thing.
      • Re:Well said! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by overshoot ( 39700 )
        One thing I've noticed -- and it's not just that I'm getting older -- is that young adults are a lot less mature than 20 years ago.

        Those professors are getting older, too.

        I have three kids in college and compare the "you won't believe this!" stories with the stuff that went on in the 60s and 70s, and I'm putting my bet on the ability to edit memory over time.

        For that matter, reading between the lines of the stories that my parents' generation told, the 60s weren't any different from the 40s. Read

    • I agree. I have percings ears and below the neck, and a tatoo on my back. I did them for myself and not to make some political statement about how 'different' I am.

      A 15 year old can dye their hair, and 'revolt' against their parents. There's not reason for a 24 year old post-college professional to dress like a teenager and expect respect. If they choose to look like a slob in a professional workplace, they are choosing to passed up by management for promotion into more significant (and higher paying)
    • by aussersterne ( 212916 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @09:14PM (#12798737) Homepage
      And "professional" and "mature" would be what? Indifferentiability. It's not about personal expression or the lack thereof, it's about whether labor is personal or commoditized. I refuse to make myself a commodity. Years ago I went out and got a prominent tattoo on the outer side of my wrist precisely because as I was entering my twenties I began to feel as though the very notion of "profssionalism" was really code for "you must sublimate your identity to the company, and credit to it any personal triumphs you would otherwise have had."

      Any company that I want to work for needs to want me just as badly. Not "some random worker who looks generally professional," not someone who's ph 7 and completely neutral, but me. I kick asses and make waves. If a process is wrong or a product sucks, I'm going to do my damndest to fix it, to talk to the board about it, put together a team to fix it, or even pull it if necessary, because any project that passes over my desk is a reflection on me and I'm not going to hide behind the company name. I take it personally, and my identity will never be second to that of the "team," who I also hope to be made of unique and powerful minds, not just a bunch of ants or yes-men.

      If I'm not valuable enough to a company to cause them to keep me regardless of inoffensive (doesn't smell bad, doesn't hurt others) variations in my appearance, chances are that I'll eventually be treated very badly by them anyway, since they'll want me as nothing more than an interchangeable part in the machine and I'm not one. For some companies, the employee who owns his work is a definite asset, and I think you're more likely to get that in people who have a more personalized appearance.

      As a part of my job (editor for a major nonfiction publisher), I now review piles and piles of resumes for various kinds of posts. Maybe this only happens in the creative community, but I find that there are at least as many times when a person's "unique" attributes excite me as there are when they turn me off.

      Usually it has to do with competence: those that come across as smart and competent while having things like tattoos and piercings I tend to see as even better candidates because of their ability to pull of an unorthodox look while kicking ass. Those that come across as less than ideal skills wise tend to look even more foolish with tattoos and piercings.

      So maybe the truth is that green hair or giant earlobe plugs aren't so much indicators as they are exaggerators: they make the worse look worse, and the better look better.
  • Definitely (Score:5, Funny)

    by t_allardyce ( 48447 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @08:43PM (#12798487) Journal
    My secretary had a problem with my Prince Albert, I fired her.
  • I would say... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by suitepotato ( 863945 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @08:43PM (#12798489)
    ...lots of metallic parts sticking out of you on a job that requires working near live electrical appliances of which some are equipped with high speed moving parts is a bad idea.

    Not to mention turning yourself into two minute spot on That's Incredible by way of using your body as a canvas doesn't exactly scream "able to deal with standards and normality" which are good things to be able to convince interviewers of.

    I don't even want to get into genital piercings and tattoos inside of lips.

    Accepted in IT? More often adopted by geeks who are hoping to convince someone they're tough. I see very few genuine stereotypical tough body modders with any nerd cred. And a snake fighting an eagle taking up your whole chest is a lot more normal on a biker than let's say a penguin bending over and mooning Bill Gates on a support tech wearing coke bottle glasses, but either one doesn't exactly say "mentally stable and totally dependent" to me.

    Grouse about superficial judgements all you like. The world doesn't work according to idealism.
    • Re:I would say... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by minkie ( 814488 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @08:54PM (#12798567)
      I don't even want to get into genital piercings and tattoos inside of lips.
      If genital piercings are keeping you from getting a job, you're showing up for interviews WAY underdressed.

      I'm not really into facial hardware, but I figure it's your face, you can do what you want with it. On the other hand, keep in mind that I'm the one who's got to look at it. "Be liberal in what you accept and conservative in what you produce" has been a good concept for a long time. It's probably applicable here too.

  • by yagu ( 721525 ) * <<moc.liamg> <ta> <ugayay>> on Sunday June 12, 2005 @08:43PM (#12798492) Journal

    Do whatever you will to or for your body, your appearance, but do so at your own risk. Since tattoos are essentially permanent, think about long term goals, ramifications, etc., and what some "permanent" might mean for those goals.

    The OP talks about some places being "cool" with tattoos, piercings, etc. That may be true, but that is only a snapshot of today's standards. During the dotcom heyday, with IT "specialists" (most really weren't, n'est-ce pas?) the standard for acceptable appearance was "anything goes". We need you, and we still love you even though your hair is filthy and goes to your waist, and you have tattoos.

    But, I worked for a large corporation for 21 years... when I started, the dress code was un-stated, but tacitly enforced... you had to wear dress pants (absolutely no jeans), dress shirt, and at least a sports coat (yes, the tie was optional). Over time, as IT became the place to work and demand for workers was high I saw this dress code disappear and the office soon looked like the stretch pants, khaki cutoff shorts, flip-flops and sandals capital of the United States!

    Fast forward to the dotcom crash... new management, and new dress codes, this time actually formally enforced. Yeah, things change.

    So, think about it... tattoos go a long way... and regardless of right or wrong, some people react negatively to them, and regardless of whether you like that or not, it's there! (I know of a very close friend who lost out to a med-school... she found out later it was influenced by her tattoos.) (Also, I think this has even passed muster in court of law -- I think Starbucks actually has a dress code and appearance code that was challenged by someone who had a pierced something, and Starbucks prevailed.)

    For those who need further prodding and convincing, read John Malloy's Dress for Success []. Whether personally you like or don't like people's reactions to how you look at least Malloy will give you some empirical perspective to work with...

  • What? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Emetophobe ( 878584 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @08:44PM (#12798500)
    There's nothing wrong with looking like this guy [] or even this guy []
  • Decorate your mind (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ewg ( 158266 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @08:51PM (#12798546)
    Decorate your mind, not your body.
  • by skazatmebaby ( 110364 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @08:52PM (#12798549) Homepage
    Hey, it's helped me in the past!

    One Friday, I had gotten my tongue pierced, by Monday, my tongue had swelled up so much, I could barely talk.

    We were in a meeting that day, I received my assignments for the day with a slight mumble grumble - I guess my boss thought I was overtly stressed or just not happy with what I had to do.

    He called me into the conference room and gave me a 150% raise, telling me how good he thought I was to the company and that he was so glad I was with them. I don't think he knew about the tongue ring for weeks...

    The next month, I dyed my hair green...
  • prudes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cooley ( 261024 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @08:53PM (#12798557) Homepage
    I can't believe the number of posts on this site talking about how "unprofessional" even an earring on a male looks. Are we really still that wrapped up in gender identity that even a gold stud on a guy is a threat?

    The arguement could be made that clients or managers could have the sort of archaic, narrow-minded ideas which would necessitate very conservative attire at the workplace; however, I don't expect so much of that attitude itself on a site where the majority of the posters are geeks. I thought we were a more open-minded lot than that.

    This is the same attitude which used to force men to wear ties and women to wear dresses. It's the same attitude which made people be angry with the "long" bowl-cuts the Beatles sported when they came to the USA.

    I'm not saying the attitude doesn't exist, or that you can currently do what you want and get away with it. All I'm saying is that there's no reason smart people like all of us should help it persist.
    • Re:prudes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SomeOtherGuy ( 179082 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @09:13PM (#12798728) Journal
      I like what the guy a few posts up said....Would you be OK with it if you had to go to court and your lawyer showed up with all sorts of visible tats and strange body piercings?

    • Re:prudes (Score:5, Interesting)

      by darkewolf ( 24563 ) <> on Sunday June 12, 2005 @09:22PM (#12798797) Homepage Journal

      I agree with you whole heartedly. Reading over the posts related to this story is a mixture of amusing and sad.

      The amount of posters that are trying their hardest to insist (mostly anonymously) that if someone has a piercing or a tattoo they are a freak and a loser.

      I have quite a few tattoos, all in heavy blacks. I have piercings (tongue, ear cartlidge, and had some chest ones) as well as scarification and some branding. Admittedly, assides from my ears and my tongue, all of it sits neatly under my shirt and suit at work. But, both my CEO and CTO have seen them and not been concerned one bit. Heck, I have had them for the last 4 jobs and none of my superiors have blinked an eyelid. Only time I was asked explicitly to cover them up was when I was doing some contracting work for a private Catholic funded hospital. And even then, due to doing a cable inspection for them, I had to crawl around under desks and in a data room, so ended up rolling my sleaves up. No one there minded.

      Mind you, that said, my body art is for me. I don't do it to impress anyone (hence why 99% of sits under my clothes).

      And frankly I think people need to chill and (especially the people on slashdot) realise that by demanding others are freaks for having body art they risk being the same as the people that call them freaks for using linux / bsd / beos etc.

    • Re:prudes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Angst Badger ( 8636 ) on Monday June 13, 2005 @01:47AM (#12800318)
      It's not gender identity or any such twaddle. The point is that people who go to great lengths to draw attention to themselves are, in the professional world, not much of an asset. (I am deliberately excluding marketing sorts for whom that is their job, though even there, they are supposed to draw attention to themselves in a way that helps promote the product.)

      I'm personally pretty damn liberal about appearance; I don't really give a shit what anyone wears. But when I see someone stroll in for a job interview with tattoos and piercings and unnatural hair colors, I dread the possibility of their being hired. Why? Because ninety-nine percent of them will end up spending an inordinate amount of work time talking about their body modification hobby, or bitching about the reactions they get, or otherwise trying to make themselves the center of attention rather than get any work done.

      There's a reason companies have dress codes, and aside from "front counter" positions, it has nothing to do with relating to the public. It's basically a test of maturity and self-discipline. In other words, can you put your ego aside long enough to get a good eight hours a day of work done?

      Another poster made some adolescent remark about not wanting to be treated like a commodity. Guess what? Unless you are in some really specialized field, you are a commodity. Get over it. But then, that takes us back to the question of whether you can put your ego aside enough to work as part of a team.
    • Re:prudes (Score:4, Insightful)

      by thesandtiger ( 819476 ) on Monday June 13, 2005 @07:15AM (#12801198)
      Anything that blurs gender lines is taken by many to be an incredibly Bad Thing. Perhaps it's because, for the most part, our monkey brains still percieve someone who's cross-gendered as being a genetic fluke (think intersexed, hermaphrodite, etc) and non-viable.

      I'm transgendered and currently in the process of changing my gender presentation. In my personal experience, people are at best curious and at worst outright violent/hostile.

      I don't think this kind of thing - the earrings and tats at work - is a gender-prude thing, though. I think it's more of a "this cog is not like the other cogs" thing. Unless you're in a "creative" position or working for a firm that values self-expression on the job, looking different from everyone else makes the powers that be think you might behave different from everyone else. They don't want individuals - they want meat machines that fill a certain role in a predictable way.

  • by MrLogic17 ( 233498 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @08:55PM (#12798577) Journal
    Dress code at a company I worked at was "business casual", with no reference to ink at all.

    Then one day one of our desk-side techs (who really was a nice guy, by the way), got a complaint reported by a user. It was a little old lady who litterally was scared of the tech because of the ink on his arms. (a guitar, if memory serves) Instantly a new dress code went into place stating no visible tatoos. He was banished to long sleeves for the rest of his time at the company.

    The moral: In a consulting company it ain't the boss who sets dress code. The client does.

  • by argoff ( 142580 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @09:00PM (#12798616)
    A wise person once told me that the difference between a good choice and a bad choice is that a good choice gives you more choices.

    Considering how many types of (strech) pierchings and tatoos are difficult to reverse, why would someone want to get one? What kind of long term plan/goal does it promote?
  • by Sponge Bath ( 413667 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @09:01PM (#12798630)

    Just observe any film of late 60's NASA engineers and you have all the style tips you need for success. Buzz cut, white shirt, pocket protector.

    Learn it. Know it. Live it.

  • by melted ( 227442 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @09:01PM (#12798631) Homepage
    I've seen some people in weird clothing, with piercings and blue hair and stuff. For as long as you do a good job, no one cares or even notices.

    There still is some rudimentary dress code, though. You can't come to work wearing nothing but underwear for example. There's a legend, and I don't know if it's true or not, that once upon a time there was a guy at MSFT who was too cheap to rent an appartment. So he lived in his office. One Sunday someone caught him in his underwear watching TV in a conference room. The guy got fired. So there you go. Start the party, bash Microsoft for its oppression of nudity in the workplace. :0)
  • by zoomba ( 227393 ) <mfc131&gmail,com> on Sunday June 12, 2005 @09:05PM (#12798656) Homepage
    If you want to be taken seriously and treated professionally where you work, unless it's a small company run by other geeks, you need to dress and look clean and professional. It's still a fact that people judge you based on how you look, and if you're in an office environment surrounded by people in slacks and shirts and other professional attire, you'll look very out of place with a bunch of piercings or tatoos. What it says to coworkers is that you don't care enough about the job to even APPEAR professional.

    Now, I know some people here are going "Oh for the love of God! What century are we in that we still have to conform to such out-dated societal norms!? We must break free... blah blah blah" To those people I say "Grow up!" Your days as a rebellious member of some imagined counter-culture pretty much end when you're out on your own making your way in the world.

    Yes, there are places still where there is no dress code... but they're the exception as opposed to the rule. If you want a professional job, you have to play by the professional rules set out by employers. Body mods, strange haircuts/colors etc. are a risk you may choose to take, but like all risks you have to realize there are consequences. You can't just run around and do whatever you want and expect everyone to be cool with it. When you work for someone else, you play by their rules.

    Don't like it? Then I offer a modified stock Slashdot response for anyone who ever complains about a piece of software:

    "If you don't like it, start your own company and set the rules how you like them! Otherwise, sit down"
    • by NEW22 ( 137070 ) on Monday June 13, 2005 @01:01AM (#12800140)
      I have no tattoos or piercings, though I am a guy with long hair, which is still considered a little bit outside of professional norms. Anyways, I am disturbed by the many people saying things like "Grow up!" and basically insulting people who would like to be free to have differently colored hair, or tattoos, piercings, or whatnot, yet still make a living as a professional.

      Can having body modifications hinder someone in their career? Yes, clearly they can.

      Should body modification hinder someone in their career? No, I can not imagine any rational moral argument that would conclude so.

      The most rational business/economic argument against having employees with body modifications is that the business deals with prejudiced clients, and it may lose money by losing the business of those prejudiced clients. That prejudice is rife in these comments, by people saying things like "it tells people you don't care about the job", or "you need to grow up and leave your imagined counterculture", or "how would you feel if your lawyer/doctor/babysitter showed up with tattoos?" and so on. You get the same kind of projections on lesbians as hating men, or men/women who perform certain jobs, and the various racial prejudices and thoughts people have. While someone with body modifications made a choice to have them, and people do not get to choose their sex, sexual orientation, or ethnicity, the prejudice is morally equivelant and arises from the same error in reasoning. Mistaking aesthetic factors as indicators of merit and character.

      So, I think that a lot of people could read what I said and disagree with me in two ways.

      One set of people would be the prejudiced and conservative people who would say "Look, that's just the way it is. Deal with it. Why do all of these people have to raise a stink over thier childish, rebellious little fads they want to engage in? You aren't special, you aren't some revolutionary rebel, you are just a regular dude who has to earn a living like the rest of us. You are an adult now, and none of that crap is important." Another set of people may agree with me in the abstract, but then go on to say, "Well, that's the way it might be in a perfect world, but the reality is that, unfortunately, people are going to judge you on these factors, and you can't change that, so you are going to have to play the game by the rules."

      I agree that, in comparision to many things, the right to have body modifications without forfieting your place in society is relatively minor. Still, I find it an unneccessary little oppression that makes the world a greyer, less fun and interesting place. People get hostile about it. Why can't the president have a mohawk? Just goofy playing around with appearance. Why does adulthood require we give these things up? Does the requirement make society a better place?

      Anyway, it is just one of those little things that I think sucks a bit about life, and I will complain about it whenever I damn well please. People like to tell other people "you can't change this", or "if you don't like it, you can either do this (X) or shut up". Setting arbitrary limits on the discussion, narrowing the range of possibilities.... Nope. You are wrong.
  • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @09:05PM (#12798657)
    Sure, if someone has every skill you need, lots of experience in the real world, can communicate clearly and professionally... that's a great start. But let's not pretend that the huge tatoos and copious, highly visible piercings are just a simple "style." They are very potent messages, which don't jive too well with the other messages we're talking about, here.

    For example (if we translate all of the messages involved into the spoken word): "Hi, I'm a talented, certified Cisco jockey - just what you need. You can trust me with your crucial data, and trust that I will protect you from Starbucks-fueled anarchist semi-punks trying to break through your firewall to deface The Man's web site. Also, whenever I'm in a meeting with management, you'll see that I specifically (and permanently) have chosen to slightly shock and unsettle the average person, and send a not-very-subtle disturbing message of dark counter-culture and pseudo-tribal pop cultism that will completely go against the grain of your company's typical customers, vendors, employees, and management. But despite my doing everything I can to make you stare at me, I insist that you do not, and only consider me just another applicant. All of this stuff I've done to myself means nothing in the context of what I do at work, because who I really am doesn't matter at work, even though I want the salary of a dedicated IT professional for whom the career actually is important. So, let's talk money! And, are you staring at my eyebrow piercings, my mohawk, or my reptile-eye contact lenses? I can't see very well with them in, and I want to be sure that I'm coming across well in this interview."
  • From an IT Manager (Score:3, Interesting)

    by toxic666 ( 529648 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @09:06PM (#12798669)
    It depends on your job. If you want to be stuck in a back room answering telephones for a living, go ahead and get some highly visible body mods. If you want to work with the straight-laced business world, keep it private.

    I manage a group of IT professionals, and every one of them has tats and piercings. But it is all done in a way to keep it out of sight during work. Even the large ear piercings are covered with plugs (or whatever the body-mod crowd cares to call them) while at work.

    At Happy Hour, the sleeves and pants get short and the fishing lures go in the ears. Nice work, but NOT something that should be shared with professionals and client reps.

    But I NEVER would have considered them if they had interviewed with facial mods. I simply could not allow that kind of presentation to clients.

    Oh, and my ear piercing scars were removed when I had those "moles" removed by the doctor.
  • Short answer.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @09:16PM (#12798755) Homepage Journal
    Anything about you that sets you apart works against. We like to talk about looking past surface appearances, but in practice nobody does. If you're going to be creative about your appearance, you have to do so a way that seems to enhance your appearance of competance -- or just accept that your self-expression is making you less employable.

    I have an appearance issue that I'm sure makes me less employable: I walk funny. Not a big deal, just a minor neurological problem. I'm sure people look at me and ask themselves "Is that guy on drugs or what?" I've thought of carrying a cane, even though I don't even know how to use one, just to emphasize that it's a minor medical disability, not an effect of a debauched lifestyle. But I'm sure it'd come off as a pose. So I just live with it. Life is often unfair, and it's not productive to get self-righteous about it.

  • My thoughts (Score:4, Insightful)

    by @madeus ( 24818 ) <> on Sunday June 12, 2005 @09:22PM (#12798802)
    I'm quite liberal [1] on most issues, including what I regard as trival things such as hair style, color and dress code, and I wouldn't want to work at a company that got uptight about engineers/developers/sysadmins wearing trainers or comfortable casual footware to the office, or that similarly imposed a needlessly strict dress code.

    However, on the subject of tatoo's and piercings I find I'm quite conservative. If I'm being honest I'd find it hard not to feel suspicous of the judgement of anyone in the field who thought it would a good idea to place bits of metal through their face (other than perhaps for non medial purposes), especially if they are over the age of about 25.

    I honestly would not feel comfortable with someone who thought it was a smart decision to do this [] to himself helping design software or network infrastucture and I wouldn't want him in the team I was in. Based on the avalible evidence, I would not trust his capacity for rational judgement (an absolute core requirement for sort of work I do).

    With regard to tattoo's I'm of a similar opinion. Having the name of your wife/kids/football team (or something of similar significance) tattooed on your arm, I'd consider quite reasonable and not count that as a sign of poor judgement. The same would be true for things are 'tastefully' decorative (while realisting that term is subjective, I would include things such as celtic crosses, marui tattoo's [2]).

    However, this would not be the case for anyone who I observed who had something overtly tasteless like 'Love/Hate' tatoos across their knuckles, or large tatoos of cartoon characters, like Daffy Duck or Tom & Jerry (also equally negative indicators when worn on ties IMO - with some exceptions).[3]

    I'd try not to let someone having facial percings or tasteless tattoo's on it's own as something that stand in the way of someone being hired in a job interview, but I conceed that it could count against them in a tie breaker situation. If there was a position for someone in an overly creative area (such as graphic design, or perhaps marketing) I don't think I would consider percings or tattoo's necessarily negative indicators at all.

    [1] NB: With a small 'l'.
    [2] Not an exhaustive list
    [3] I have a deadbeat realtive who incidentally has all of these, and then some.
    • Re:My thoughts (Score:4, Interesting)

      by east coast ( 590680 ) on Monday June 13, 2005 @01:09AM (#12800176)
      While I do not have a problem with most of your outlook...

      Having the name of your wife/kids/football team (or something of similar significance) tattooed on your arm, I'd consider quite reasonable and not count that as a sign of poor judgement.

      followed later by...

      However, this would not be the case for anyone who I observed who had something overtly tasteless like ... large tatoos of cartoon characters, like Daffy Duck or Tom & Jerry (also equally negative indicators when worn on ties IMO - with some exceptions).

      So, a sporting team is fine and a cartoon is not for what reason? Don't get me wrong, yeah, I agree that a football team could have a special significance if you're on the fucking team but don't be one of these dolts who hands me this shit that because they were born in Buttfuck Egypt they need to worship the Buttfuck Egypt football club and anyone else from Buttfuck Egypt who don't kiss the ass of someone on the Buttfuck Egypt team is nothing but a sack of shit.

      Being the fan of a bunch of men running a leather ball over a pasture is no more advanced than watching cartoons with a similure fandom.

      I'll never understand that about sports fans, they watch some jackasses on a field playing a game and think it's a fine persuit to remember stats and discuss gameplay like they're coaches but if someone goes out and does something like playing video games or treating fixing the lawn mower like an engineering project then suddenly you're a geek? WTF is wrong with people?

      If it sounds like a heavy handed rant, I'm sorry. It just seems something is mighty wrong with this "logic" and surprising that it came up on someplace like slashdot. But than again, a lot of illogic goes on around here.
  • Old folks (Score:3, Funny)

    by Johnboi Waltune ( 462501 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @09:26PM (#12798830)
    I'm an engineer in my 20's. On a whim one weekend, my girlfriend and I used her hair dye to make my hair the same natural shade of red as hers. Not long after that, one of the senior engineers (a guy who was probably 50 or 55) introduced me to another guy and tried to set me up on a dinner date with him.

    It would have been quite embarrassing even if I were gay, and I don't think the other guy was gay either.

    It's hard to say which, but the older guy was either terribly clueless or a complete fucking asshole.

    In any case, older people others who live sheltered, conservative lives often don't have a clue about things. People who are set in their ways like that can react with extreme hostility when they're confronted with ideas outside their narrow range of experience.

    A more enlightened attitude is that it's your body and you should be able to modify it as you see fit. Just be aware that you can and will suffer consequences in the workplace for having a nonstandard appearance.
  • at least not in (Score:3, Insightful)

    by e**(i pi)-1 ( 462311 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @09:26PM (#12798837) Homepage Journal
    Soviet Russia ... []
  • by Draconix ( 653959 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @09:35PM (#12798903)
    Call me crazy, but I feel a far more comfortable dealing with people dressed as they want to be dressed, with whatever visible body modifications they have. In fact, I feel far more comfortable dealing with people who have piercings and/or visible tattoos, despite having none myself. Why? Because far more often than not, that type of work environment makes the employees comfortable and happy with their job, which is the best way to ensure they do their job well. Most of the employees at the best pizza place in this county (actually rated best by the newspapers, not just IMO) have tattoos, piercings, and non-standard haircuts, and they do their jobs well.

    When I worked in customer service myself, I got very relieved whenever I got to deal with people who were visibly off-beat, because contrary to popular belief, they tend to be nice people. They go by their own standards instead of forcing themselves to conform to someone else's standards, which means less stress for them, and get this: most people would rather deal with someone who's actually friendly than someone being forced to fake it. Less stress = more relaxed = generally easier to deal with.

    I'm also rather saddened that some would call body modification immature. Though I'm sure some immature people modify themselves, it is by no means an indicator; as implied above, I've found a greater degree of maturity in those who are into it than those against it. It's not usually whoring for attention any more than wearing a shirt because you find it aesthetic. It is an aspect of individuality, and individuality is what drives humanity, like it or not. Entrepeneurs and inventors aren't conformists, and I don't think anyone else needs to be either. We're humans, not robots. Frankly, I'd rather my potential jobs be replaced by machines than have to make myself as machinelike as possible to obtain and keep those jobs.
  • by frovingslosh ( 582462 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @09:37PM (#12798920)
    Do Body Modifications Still Hinder IT Professionals?

    I prefer to think of it as body modifications providing important hiring visual queues for IT managers.

  • by blunte ( 183182 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @10:02PM (#12799095)
    Top Story: Normal People Don't Like Freaks

    I fear not the modders.

    Small business, the type of business that supposedly makes the US operate, does not willingly accept freaks. They tolerate IT types (people with poor social skills, and perhaps less than ideal grooming habits), but they aren't going to willingly choose to employ people who look like freaks (to them).

    It's JobHunting101: All else being equal, the applicant who makes the best impression gets the job. Now if the place you're applying to is full of people with "tats" and noserings, then you're set. But since that hasn't exactly caught on with normal people, your chances of appearing as though you would "fit in" are slim.

    If you're a freak, hide it until you get the job (and ideally until you prove that you're invaluable).
  • by Netmonger ( 3253 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @10:26PM (#12799256) Homepage
    'quite frankly.. body 'modifications' as the article refered to them, are looked at by many others as 'body mutilations'. While I am all for people having the freedom to do whatever they want, this actually means 'being able to do whatever they want so long as they dont infringe on the freedoms of everyone else'. Subjecting others to the display of such mutilation crosses the line. A similar example is if I started refusing to take a shower every day I went to work - my 'right to stink' is overridden by other's 'right to breath fresh air'. Besides if you really analyze it, puncturing your body is fundamentally disturbing - in fact I think that the people that do this, do it just to get this shock value' from this disturbance they give others. They're basically insecure and think it makes them 'cool' - when in fact they've just de-sensitized themselves so much they think they like it. Whatever. There's limits to what you can do in society and be treated respectfully. When you are enourmously fat, you smell bad, or you insist on puncturing your body with little hooks, you're going to get treated differently and that's just the way it is - the majority of people dont want to be subjected to that type of nonsense.
  • by multiplexo ( 27356 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @10:53PM (#12799454) Journal
    Go for extreme body modification. Have something amputated. For what it's worth the people at my company don't seem to have a problem with me wearing shorts, which show off the lovely piece of titanium and carbon fiber that replaced my left leg below the knee after a motorcycle accident two years ago. In fact many of them were surprised by it, which I chalk up to the good work of my physical therapists in teaching me how to walk again and my prosthetist in building really good legs.

  • by Archeopteryx ( 4648 ) <benburch.pobox@com> on Sunday June 12, 2005 @11:51PM (#12799837) Homepage
    I worked at a startup company where we had a stunningly beautiful intern who wore tight knit tops, no bra and no need for one though she was quite well endowed, and had a variety of nipple piercing jewelry (changed daily.)

    It really lowered the productivity of some of my coworkers and most of them could not look her in the eye when they talked to her.

    It was no problem for me; I've been hanging around with pierced S&M folks since the early 80s! Been there. Done that.
  • by Prien715 ( 251944 ) <agnosticpope@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Monday June 13, 2005 @12:12AM (#12799940) Journal
    I thought we'd be over it by now. I think diversity ought to be something to be encouraged rather than discouraged so I'm dismayed when a corperation talks diversity but means race.

    Shaving your facial hair isn't a matter of maturity it's a matter of culture. Many cultures (Amish, Sikhs, and more) have rules dictating this. I fail to see how the body mod scene fails to qualify as a distinct culture, yet people enjoy discriminating against them and calling them names despite having met maybe 2 of said people and making a judgement call in the first 5 minutes of having met them. Personally, I have no tattoos or piercings but I don't have any disrespect for those who do.

    Business is about making money, not wearing long pants and a tie.
  • by dghcasp ( 459766 ) on Monday June 13, 2005 @12:25AM (#12799985)
    1. My company, my rules. You don't want to play along, find somewhere else to work.
    2. If you're unwilling to follow something as simple as the dress codes, what does that tell me about what to expect when I ask you to do something important that you don't want to do?
    3. Yes, piercings, tatoos, beachwear as office wear, etc, has become more prevelent. But it's still not mainstream, and it's definately not corporate. Some people are still offended or uncomfortable with it. If you don't care about other people's sensitivities, even if you think they're stupid, why should they care about you?
    4. And c'mon, "modifications" like piercings and tatoos are prevelent enough that they're no longer individualistic; people are just following the crowd. I hire leaders, not sheep. You want to express your individuality, dump a litre of gas on your face and light it - Trust me, you'll be at the head of the trend, and I'll at least respect your individuality and courage, if not your intelligence.
    • by east coast ( 590680 ) on Monday June 13, 2005 @12:41AM (#12800044)
      I agree that yeah, it's your company and your rules, but at one point you say it's not mainstream but then you claim that it's something only "sheep" do... Which is it?

      As for the dumping gas on your head and lighting it to show that you're a leader... have you tried this yourself? If not you must be like the rest of the sheep. Can't realize how ridiculous you just made yourself look? This is the kind of stuff teenaged kids hear from irrational parents, not from a businessman that they can respect.

      All in all, it's a misconception on your part that makes you think that people getting ink done are doing it to express their individuality. I'm sure some do but I can tell you right now that 90% of the people I know have no idea that I have had a fair amount of tattoo work done. I did it for myself.
  • by EvilStein ( 414640 ) <`ten.pbp' `ta' `maps'> on Monday June 13, 2005 @12:48AM (#12800085)
    I have NO piercings and NO tats. But I'm a long haired white guy.

    I've had job issues based on my hair alone. The most recent was when the little cocksucker (sorry, I don't have enough middle fingers for my former employer.) that became my boss who started calling me "Jesus" and having one of his lackeys follow suit. Yes, because I wasn't showing up to work with polo shirts & boat shoes, I became the one to poke fun at. (These people were all hired well after I was.)

    So if you're worried about piercings causing you problems, the answer is "yes, they'll cause problems. So will the tattoos."
  • by dvk ( 118711 ) on Monday June 13, 2005 @01:31AM (#12800242) Homepage
    Last week, we had a very interesting lecture by one of the heads of company's Client Service Group on client meetings/presentations.

    At one point, she said something quite wise about appearances, that is a perfect answer to the article's question:

    "When a client leaves a meeting with you, the client should remember WHAT YOU SAID, and NOT how you looked".

    As a background, I work for a software development company that sells to large financial companies; many of us "geeks" get to meet clients so the lecture was very popular.

    To add to that, my own view is "If you need to distinguish yourself from other people by what you look like, there's a big chance you have no other beneficial qualities to dinstinguish yourself with". There are exceptions to this, but not many in my experience.


    "Can't act. Can't sing. Balding. Can dance a little."
    - Human Resources Department judgment on Fred Astaire's Hollywood screen test in the early 1930s.
  • by binary paladin ( 684759 ) <binarypaladin&gmail,com> on Monday June 13, 2005 @02:54AM (#12800509)
    I'm late to this discussion, but I'll make my statement.

    Businesses should be allowed to set whatever dress code they want. Don't like it? Don't work there. Given that I believe that businesses in general shouldn't have to hire anyone they don't want for any reason, I suppose I'm in a minority.

    Seriously, be prepared to accept the consequences of your actions. It's that simple. I don't think anyone out there that gets a piercing or a tatoo or whatever doesn't know that a lot of people, right or wrong, have issues with that.

    I have my ear pierced and while it's really no big deal nowadays, there are some places that it's an issue. You know what? I have no desire to deal with or work with a company that's that hung up on an earring. They're tight ass pricks. That's their right. It's my right not to want to deal with them and work elsewhere.

    The biggest problem I have with the "different" or "extreme" crowd is that some of them think it's *their* right to do whatever they want and that everyone around them should just deal with it. Yeah? Fuck you guys. Do what you want. I'm all for it. However, quit telling *other* people who they should feel and think. Do what you but be willing to accept the fucking consequences.

    Businesses exist, for the most part, to make money. If your cute little lip ring or tatoo impedes that, why should they hire you? Even if you're skilled, it's likely there's someone else who is just as skilled who isn't outside that business's comfort zone. And again, if someone is going to get that caught up over a lip ring, do you really *want* to work there? I wouldn't.

    If your response is, "Well I *need* X job." Take your piercings out. If you've got tats it's likely you know the possible consequnces when you got them. If you didn't, you're probably not bright enough to be qualified for any place with a dress code. Beggars can't be choosers. Come on people, this is real life. I'm not telling anyone to give up their "individuality" or personal "expression." I'm not telling anyone to "grow up" because I personally have almost no issues with tats or piercings. (Although there is a point of excess that even bothers me. Deal with it.) Hell, I'm the kind of person who would lose clients before firing or not hiring someone based on appearance. However, that's *my* choice and it's not my place to other people hiring how they need to run *their* business.
  • by mattr ( 78516 ) <mattr@t e l e b> on Monday June 13, 2005 @09:06AM (#12801757) Homepage Journal
    I can only give one data point, a friend of mine from England living in Japan runs an English language preschool for young children. She has a tatoo.

    Basically nothing good comes from it and she got it so long ago it isn't important to her anymore. The problems or fears it causes include:

    • Fear of customers (moms) finding out and either dropping the school or telling other moms.
    • Has been kicked out of public bathhouses, due to a blanket rule aimed at the tatoo-wearing mafia (she has covered it with a towel which looks suspicious but works sometimes)
    • They had a fire recently so presumably any problem the tatoo could cause would be a more dire problem now.
    • The point is not that tattoos are bad, they're fine. Maybe attention getting, sexy, self-affirming, fit in with a crowd, etc. But people change as time goes on, and with a more globally connected world you may end up travelling to more conservative countries or places where physical intimacy (saunas in Finland, bathhouses in Japan, etc.) is more taken for granted. When you travel outside your own culture, people won't know what your tattoo means and half the time may think worse of you for it. They may even think it's a mark of weakness or irrationality (not that these are bad things either necessarily). So unless you really need one for some important reason I'd say don't.
    • Finally you probably will change roles during your life, for example what if you start your own business or move into a sales or more responsible position where you meet customers? It could be positive in some cultural niches but my guess is generally, it will very often work against you. As Shakespeare said, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio." Or take a page from Doctor Who. Who seems to say with his Police Box tardis craf, if you really want to screw with people's minds and/or travel widely in a lubricated manner, go for protective coloration.

    Well this is just my take, I have nothing personal against tattoos or piercings (well on girls tattoos are sexy to me but I feel less professionally interested in pierced people.. and my eyes are always going to the piercing instead of their eyes so it hinders my communication with them I think). If you think you might work in a conservative national or corporate culture one day it probably is better to go with a small tattoo than a piercing is my guess, but if you can make it without either until you are out of school you'll probably be happier later on I'd guess. Whatever!

When you are working hard, get up and retch every so often.