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Facial Piercings Don't Mean Much

An online writer with a degree in journalism, Glassvisage sports piercings in her ears and lip.

Does having a lip ring or other piercing affect your ability to get or keep a job?

Does having a lip ring or other piercing affect your ability to get or keep a job?

Facial Piercings in the Workplace

My first "real" job interview is coming up this week, and, in addition to concerns over my performance face-to-face with my potential future employers, I have put much consideration into my attire for the big day.

Part of this contemplation revolves around my lip ring.

This piece of body jewelry is not just a valued possession of mine; it also feels like it's become a part of me. I love my little rhinestone stud for the way it individualizes my appearance in a simple and, in my opinion, innocuous way.

Dissenting Opinions About Piercings and Tattoos

Unfortunately, many people do not agree with my opinion (including my mother, who would not let me enter my house until I took it out). Employers especially may shrink from piercings and tattoos (which I also have) and refrain from hiring individuals with such accessories.

Why Employers Don't Like Them

According to a 2006 study by Anne E. Laumann, MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery degrees), and Amy J. Derick, Md., that involved men and women 18–50 years of age, 24 percent had tattoos, and 14 percent had body piercings. The study linked tattoos and piercings to a lack of religious affiliation, extended jail time, previous drinking, and recreational drug use. So I guess that explains the uneasiness of employers over tattoos and piercings.

Obviously, not all inked or pierced people are hooligans, but why should a company bother giving someone the benefit of the doubt if there's a clean-cut and unadorned applicant also at the front door?

Why Employers DO Like Them

Well, some companies consider allowing piercings and tattoos beneficial in that it attracts younger and possibly more innovative and exciting workers.

Nearly half of 20-something-year-olds have either a tattoo or piercing other than traditional earrings, according to a study published this year in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. Those who are 25–29 years old have the highest incidence of tattoos (36 percent), and 30–39-year-olds follow with 28 percent. These are the ages of those who are right out of college or grad school, youth loaded with energy and potential, and the percentages show that piercings and tattoos are not uncommon among them.

Basically, it depends on the industry to be entered; it's all about catering to the clientele, and sometimes piercings and tattoos may be ok or even attractive—and sometimes they can be absolute deterrents.

Confusion Over Company Dress Codes

Thus, to seem both professional and yet inviting, many employers opt to leave their dress code vague. And this often leads to confusion.

  • For instance, in 2004 Costco was sued for religious discrimination after it fired an employee for breaking its policy against facial jewelry. The employee, a member of the Church of Body Modification, said wearing her facial piercings was a part of her religion.
  • Also, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Inc., agreed around that same time to pay a former employee $150,000 for a lawsuit of the same nature because the restaurant chain's no-visible-body-art policy clashed with the employee's Kemetic (ancient Egyptian) religion.

I can understand the offense if someone, say, had a swastika tattooed on the arm, but I don't see the need for policies against harmless images, especially if they look good.

A Tattoo or Piercing Isn't a Mark of Bad Judgment

The company for whom I am applying to work for advises conservative dress for the interview. Personally, I wouldn't want to hire someone who makes the attempt to look boring. There's definitely a line between gaudy clothes and, likewise, ostentatious tattoos and piercings, but it shouldn't be so thick as to blur them out completely.

Getting a tattoo or piercing isn't a slip in judgment; it's a sign of personality, daring, maybe even class, and good taste. I think my lip ring looks great, and I'm not even a crack-head felon.

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Blaire on January 23, 2012:

I think people are entitled to their opinions. While people have the right to like or dislike other people's piercings and tattoos, they should not be allowed to discriminate against those who choose it for themselves. I want to get an anti-eyebrow piering in the near future, and am currently employed. My employer already dislikes my ear piercings (Industrial, rook, daith, helix, and 3 on each lobe) and has asked me to remove them, but allows others to keep theirs in without comment. One of my supervisors has a tongue ring, but he has only ever said anything to me. I find it awful that people seem to judge your quality of work by how you look. I work hard everyday, while many others slack off. I don't think your chances of being hired should be lessened by something you choose to do for yourself.

OrangeUmbrella on January 10, 2012:

Thank you for posting this hub! I completely agree with you! I will be working in a professional environment soon when I finish university and I am quite nervous for the interviewing processes and if I will be judged on my monroe stud. It is one of the smallest piercings you could ever get. I keep it in more for avoidance of the scar it leaves behind, but nonetheless it is here to stay. I understand that to some employers professional image is everything but people need to get with the times. Piercings and tattoos are everywhere now and who are people to discriminate that they "are immature and unprofessional"? They are so common now I don't think employers should be allowed to discriminate hiring a completely able person because they have a single stud in their face. And like a previous user stated, if a company doesn't hire me because of a little stud in my lip, I don't think I would want to work for them anyway.

glassvisage (author) from Northern California on October 13, 2011:

I agree Tom. I'm still getting used to see people with bright dyed hair at the office, but it's definitely more commonplace.

Tom on October 11, 2011:

Times are definitely changing where facial piercings in the workplace are concerned. I recruit for a bank and have offered roles to a number of women with nose studs. It is completely acceptable now so long as the jewellery is subtle. My wife had a nose ring herself until she took in out when she started work in a corporate environment. Ten years on she decided to get it repierced and now wears a small diamond stud. Nobody minded at all and it hasn't stopped her getting promoted. Be yourself but do it don't go overboard, as my wife has done - she wears a nose stud without any fuss but might not so easily get away with a ring.

glassvisage (author) from Northern California on September 13, 2011:

Thank you all for your comments! Cadence, that's great! It's interesting to me where I work to see people who have brightly dyed hair and other personalizations to their appearance - these are generally accepted in my workplace, and I'm impressed!

Cadence on September 13, 2011:

I work in an office and have quite a few piercings (facial and otherwise) and several tattoos. I'll admit it crossed my mind that this might affect my chances during the interview, but I had always stood by my belief that "If someone isn't going to hire me because I have piercing or tattoo, then I don't want to work for them anyways".

In the end, I did get hired. And late found out my employer actually has a few tattoos of her own! Body modification is so mainstream these days that its silly to make snap judgements about anyone who has them.

Mikal Smith from Vancouver, B.C. on July 20, 2010:


I just want to point out that tattoos and piercings are not the result of a fad. While certain types of tattos (i.e. tribal on non-tribal people, lower back work and coyfish) and piercings (surface piercings mostly) are fads that will come and go both tattoos and piercings have been around forever and are likely to stand the test of time.

Most cultures on our planet have a history of body modification as a means of telling a story, identification, cosmetic purposes or for rites of passage.

Deciding whether or not to adorn your body in that way is your choice entirely, but insulting people who have made those choices, or claiming to know much about why they've done is rude and misinformed.

There are certainly many people who have made poor decisions in their lives, and sometimes there mods are one of them. But that is not always the case.

Great hub glassvisage. Here'e hoping that one day body adornment will not be an issue when it comes to the interview. Fortunately there are many industries where that hurtle is already passed.

Cassandra Mantis from UK and Nerujenia on May 10, 2010:

The stud is nice and it doesn't make you look like any kind of interviewers worst nightmare, You are fine, glassvisage. It's your piercing, your tat, your life! Cheers!

glassvisage (author) from Northern California on January 24, 2010:

Thank you, Mortgage. Not gonna lie... I got my tattoo when I was 20, but sometimes I wish I hadn't gotten it :P

MOrtgagestar1 on January 21, 2010:

Walk into a bank or other service industry with facial piercings. " We call you sometime ". Foolishness is wasted on the youth!

When most people finally mature and realize they are physically scarred for life, it is to late. The modern day freakshow fad will pass and the one's incapable of cosmetic surgeries will bear the pshycological pain of bearing facial scars. Medically, the portion of the brain( parietal lobe ) that governs our ethics, and decision making does NOT fully develop until we are in out twenties. This explains why lack of life's experiences coupled with physiological developemnts are at root for poor decision skills.

Jumping off bridges may be brave but its dangerous also. Grea Hub!

glassvisage (author) from Northern California on September 07, 2009:

Thanks Trish for pointing out that piercings can mean a lot more than something like rebellion: it can symbolize bravery, individuality, beauty, etc. :)

Trish on September 06, 2009:

This was enjoyable to read.

I just got my lower left labret pierced the other day. I hold pride in it as it's something that displays a sense of bravery for me.

I don't know if that's proper wording or not.

But I enjoyed the concept of it being something so different and spontaneous for me, and unexpected by others. I think it's a bit sad the association they place with piercings and tatoos to some point. As I myself am like you two above, I drink very rarely and only in good company ( of age as well), I don't smoke or have any drug intake. I am very considerate and friendly, my manners are my priority. So I would hate to feel branded as something bad for having a little stud in my lip.

Ps; I think your stud looks very pretty by the way. : )

glassvisage (author) from Northern California on December 27, 2008:

Katie, sounds like me! (Only I have one tattoo...)

Katie on December 27, 2008:

Just to throw it out there - I have 9 body piercings and 3 tattoos. People look at me and assume I'm as wild as they come but I'm not. The only "bad" thing about me is my lack of religion. Otherwise, I'm courteous, kind and non-judgemental. I don't even drink, smoke or do drugs. Fancy that!

glassvisage (author) from Northern California on September 15, 2008:

Thanks everyone! The interview went okay, but it turns out I got another job I like more instead! :)

Moon Daisy from London on September 15, 2008:

This is a very well thought-out hub, and I like the way that you've considered both sides of the discussion, despite being an ardent fan of body art yourself.  Personally, I don't have any piercings other than in my ears, but if I was an employer I would like to think that I wouldn't let a lip or eyebrow piercing or a tatoo influence me as to whether or not I'd hire the person. It's the person, and their knowledge and skills that are important (in an ideal world anyway!)

Some of my friends have tatoos and I've had friends with piercings, and none of them have been in jail or been drug users! It annoys me when people judge a book by its cover, although it's sadly part of life.

I understand that some companies are quite conservative, and they have to maybe think about how their clients would react to pierced staff members.  I suppose that if the company you want to work for are really against this look, then you'll probably have to take it out if you really want to work for them; even though it might seem really unfair.  I imagine that if a company is quite conservative in its image, then there's always the possibility that its employees may need to tone down their personalities altogether.  Some industries are just like this unfortunately, and if you want to enter them then you have to play by the rules.  (At least until you get hired!)

Good luck with your interview.

funnebone from Philadelphia Pa on April 26, 2008:

If you have the right to wear something, someone has the right not to like it. I am of the opinion character makes people individuals and not decoration. You are obviously intelligent and lovely, that is what people will see. Anytime you open yourself to be appreciated for something, you subject yourself to ridicule at the same time. You have read my hubs and know I am a laid back person and I love people, but I am not a fan of body mutilation and I can understand someones objections to it.

I still love you though!

fishskinfreak2008 from Fremont CA on March 31, 2008:

Facial piercings are just fashion statements

LiamBean from Los Angeles, Calilfornia on March 31, 2008:


People as a group tend to let prejudice and ignorance inform their decisions. In other words lose the lip ring for the interview. Once you get the job (knock on iron) you can wear it with impunity.

Roland on March 31, 2008:

Having read your hubs I know you to be a very intelligent individule. But it looks like you'er to close to this one to call it.

If you have time it would be nice to go over there unannounced and on the down low and see what everyone else looks like. Dig up as much information as possible about the company.

Then to you may want to wait until you are hired to reveal your strong sense of independence; that's if you realy want the job.

The other thing is most people that start a buisness like to promote there own image, and may even conform, their personal image so they can make money, and be accepted in the market place.

Ask yourself how would you feel if you had a good business and someone with a radical appearance wanted to be hired, and your position was totally opposite.

Then you could go the the iinterview naked of your chosen appearance, and ask the interviewer how the company feels about tatoos and pearcings.

I guess it's what you think and how you feel about yourself tht realy counts, but acceptance is a big part of life too. If you can take it out to go to mom's you can take it out to get paid.

What if there where only hooligans left on the planet and they required every one to be tatooed and pierced what then?

Lots of luck on the interview.


ms kim from IL on March 31, 2008:

Not all companies don't allow body piercings for just the way they may look. Some have a 'No piercing Policy' due to insurance. I worked at a preschool and everyday had to take out my eyebrow and nose piercings because of the potental injuries. We also could not wear dangle earrings or hoop earrings larger then a pencil. You should call befoe you go and ask about the companies policy and why they have it.

pjdscott from Durham, UK on March 31, 2008:

Very interesting hub - I suppose it depends on the firm interviewing, and on the personal tastes of the personnel. In a conventional western sense, I believe employers view prospective employees with piercings as something unusual and - possible - to be avoided.

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