Friday, 11 January 2013

Of me, but not all that I am.

There have been a few things which are new to me now that I've joined the corporate world for the first time in my working life.

Apart from jobs in retail and catering, my "grown-up" working life has basically been the Third Sector and it's all I've ever known. This was followed shortly by my horrid job, which although private sector, was the crappy end of the private sector where wages are low and staff turnover is high.

This job is Corporate with a big C and it means a whole new world. Rather than working on a housing estate in Hull with people who are well-meaning but not necessarily well turned out and everyone was one big family, I'm now in a world where high heels clack along slate-tiled corridors, and, the best thing ever, a canteen with nice food and more importantly cheap food.

Living in Corporate World has meant that image is now forefront of my mind all the time. There is a dress-code and there is probably more to say on that another time but it has meant that I have had to change a couple of things about myself.

Noticeably my much loved tongue-piercing was removed on New Year's Eve as it its a no-no. And pop socks have been purchased to cover up Herbert who has the unfortunate luck of being my only visible tattoo.

I have got into some "debates" regarding the removal of my piercing and the covering of my tattoos for a job. On the whole I do think it's silly, neither of those things affect my ability to work - there merely (possibly) affect people's perceptions of me and I do think that's wrong.


That's the way it is in Corporate World. Tattoos are unfortunately still seen as unprofessional and that's just that.

Am I going to give up a job for a bit of titanium I had shoved through my tongue in Affleck's Palace when I was 18 at uni?

Yes my tattoos and are of me, but they are not all that I am. When I took my piercing out, was I still "me", did my personality change? No of course it didn't, I was exactly the same person funnily enough.

Maybe this comes with the confidence of age or maybe it is just the way I personally am. But my tattoos do not define me. I didn't get them for other people to see and think how cool I was and that is why it's not really any big deal to me to have them covered up. I've had them done for me, and at the end of the day when I go home, if I want to, I can look down at my feet then and say hello to Herbert (or indeed to any of my others - although the one on my back is a little hard to talk to at times).

And actually, as much as the Corporate World may judge me for having my tattoos, my bet is it's no more likely to happen than when so-called hipsters and cool dudes say to me " have tattoos?", because I don't necessarily appear at first glance to be hip or trendy.

How very sad that those people recalibrate how they think of me once they find out I have a bit of ink on me. And I actually don't know what would offend me more - have someone think I was unprofessional because I have a tattoo or someone who decided they liked me because I do.

I don't want to be thought of us as unprofessional as much as I don't want to be put in a 'cool' box.

I'm just happy being me. And I am me. Whether you dress me up in a fancy dress or put me in a bin bag, whether you cover up my tattoos or let everyone see them - what you can't hide is me. 

Bad luck.


  1. Fab post. I saw a couple of sniffy comments on your twitter or FB around the time of you taking out your tongue piercing, but you'd have been cutting off your nose to spite your face if you hadn't done it. Stay in that AWFUL job so you could keep a little piercing? You'd have been mad!

    I can't wait to hear more about this corporate dress code though - mine is very loosely business dress (ie anything goes except jeans ans trainers) so I don't know how I'd cope having to be well turned out every day!

  2. Ah so true. I have one, teeny, tiny tattoo and recently a colleague saw it and was very surprised, he told how the'd always thought of me as being 'quiet'. Erm, I am. I certainly am at work (I'm working - hello!).
    I find it funny that tattoos seem to make you a 'type' in the eyes of the world.
    I would have removed the piercing too, as you say, it's just a thing.
    I had a nose stud for many years only removing it when it didn't seem right for me anymore. I could have kept it, being in a creative line of work it's almost expected that you're a little kooky (another box in which to be put).
    Are you enjoying your new Corporate World?

  3. Heh, yes I do find it odd that dress codes still always ban visible tattoos and piercings (other than one in each ear). My company's also goes into detail about summer attire. No bare shoulders or flip flops and shorts must be "tailored". I do sometimes wonder if HR has forgotten that publishing is a creative industry.

    Ah well. The corporate world isn't so bad. Job benefits in addition to getting paid! My favourite benefit is free zoo membership :-)

  4. I'm glad I'm not the only one who associates the Corporate World with clicky clacky heels. Since joining the teaching world, I've barely worn mine - they're hiding on the bottom of the shoe rack gathering dust.

    I'm sure your sunny personality adds some colour to your office whether you show your tattoos or not! x

  5. I'd have thought you could have got away with the tongue is fairly discreet...and loads of people in the corporate world have tattoos hidden away - trust me. xxx

  6. Can't you just put your piercing back in when you get home? No need to let it heal up :).

  7. As someone who has a number of 'faces' dependant on situation, this was a freakin joy to read. I'm 'me' in every face I put on, it's just a different version, that's appropriate to different factions of my life. I don't have tattoos or piercings, but in a similar fashion, I'd be highly unlikely to wear my favourite leather trousers to work, as I don't want to be defined by them when I enjoy them outside.

  8. Well I understand totally. I am inundated with ink. But the most notable are my arms. My left is a total sleeve and my right is a tree that starts at my wrist and goes up. I am 'kind of' in the corporate world but stuck in a place where I do my job, don't see a lot of people, and go home at the end of the day. We don't get customers here at the office so it's mostly a casual dress code. But if we get visitors from other offices I mostly stay to myself as is normal for me and no one is the wiser. And if someone is brought in I usually stay at my desk behind my cube and I can look over and converse just fine. I'm 55 years old. Yes it wasn't wise to go with sleeves but like you said, the ink does not define me. Which I have upon occasion pointed out in discussions of this nature. If I had it to do over I would go just down to the elbows....easier to cover up but oh well. What's done is done. :o)


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