Monday, 24 March 2014

My Cheek Piercings and I: We Won't Work for You

There is one thing that you're most likely going to notice about me when first meeting me. Yes, I have two silver balls sticking out from both sides of my face. Some people question why I would ruin my dimples (which were never there before the piercings, btw) with piercings and others admire how "classy" I make them look. Either way, my piercings are very personal and the journey I've been on over the past two years since getting them has been just as personal and significant.

During the course of my time with these piercings I've received many curious questions: Did you have dimples before? How do you eat? Can you take them out and squirt liquid out of them? Is it one bar? How much did it hurt? What did your parents say?
Jup, those are all questions I'm familiar with and despite how original you might think your questions are, things can become pretty redundant over the course of two years. There is, however, one question I get asked often and that I feel is worth answering. I'm not answering this question because I have anything to prove to anyone or want to put anything to rest. I'm answering it because it allows me the time and space to think about what I'm being asked, the importance of it and it's relevance to my life.

Many times I'll answer some of the sillier questions I get with the same amount of bullshit I measure from the question. "Is it one bar that goes from one side of your mouth to the other?" Yes Sherlock, because it would make plenty of sense to do something like that. The entire purpose of these piercings is to limit how easily I can speak, eat or suck a dick.......because I'd intentionally like to make all three of those things significantly difficult for myself (Sorry, I'm aware that was a little crude).
....but unlike these, the question of what I'm going to do about my piercings once I need to get a job is a very valid one and definitely worth thinking about.

When I got my cheeks pierced I was a teenager dealing with teenager stuff and quite frankly, I did not think I was going to live past 20,  so employment wasn't at the top of my list of "Things to consider before getting a facial piercing". However, now that I am well-aware of my (hopefully) lengthy lifespan, I realize that there are a lot of reasonable things to consider and think about before getting a facial piercings, and employment is definitely at the top of that list.

I know for a fact that I probably won't keep these piercings in till I'm 30. Heck, I'll probably have them out by the time I'm 23 or even sooner. However, that has nothing to do with the fact that I hope to get a job someday. If anyone asks me whether I recommend cheek piercings I tell them that I can, quite honestly, not make a recommendation. This is not to say that I hate my piercings or that I regret getting them. If that were the case, I'd have them out and closing up by now. But it is important to realize that we are different people going on different journeys so I could not make a genuine recommendation with your best intentions at heart. Yes, cheek piercings are a fun conversation starter, I find them aesthetically appealing and despite being an iffy and stressful kind of piercing, they are still fun to have. However, I also know that I have no intent on working some job in which I'm required to wear a dress suit everyday like I'm Jessica Pearson (this is a Suits reference, just by the way). I am not opposed to piercings and tattoos in the work place, but I also know that every career path has somewhat of a uniform and cheek piercings do not fit in well with most of them. However, as an individual and someone who knows that she's going to be the captain of her own ship someday, be it at a self-made, independent magazine or wherever else I might find myself, I know that I would not want to work for or with anyone that is bothered by my cheek piercings.

Quite frankly put, if I were to get an interview with my favorite print press I would NOT take out my piercings. Apart from them being a large part of who I am, I would also not want to work in a place that strictly dictates how I'm supposed to look or that overlooks my abilities and capabilities because of something temporary. Don't get me wrong, I think it's important to make a good first impression when interviewing anywhere for an internship or job you really want and if you prepare yourself well enough and come to find out that the kind of piercing you have would not sit well with your potential boss and that is the kind of environment you want to work in, then by all means remove your symbols of rebellion and be an adult about it. But I am comfortable and prepared enough in what I want to do to know that I would not even apply for a job in a place that would force me to conform to a standard of appearance. I, for one, know that my piercings do not look outrageous and in my experience, I seem to wear them well. No cockiness intended there, but "whatchagonnadoaboutit"? Right?
I've worked with and around people that do not see any less significance in the things I do, make or say simply because they have a preconception of what people with piercings are like. I have worked in spaces where I am treated as any other person would be treated, where my intelligence has not been questioned and my aesthetic has not been ridiculed. I know places like this exist and that is an ideal working environment for me, which is why I am to pursue a career in something that would be just as accepting.

When push comes to shove, how you present yourself is an important part of being hired. However, when choosing a place of employment keep that in mind too. If at this stage in your life you feel like you want the entirety of your torso and face to be covered in ink, go for it, but also be aware that you're not likely to become a lawyer or a doctor. I mean, you could try. I am most definitely not going to stop you and hey, you might just make revolutionary advances in the field when it comes to dress code and individuality. But be aware of the constraints of the society we live in. Regardless of how much you want to break down the confines that it places us in, also be aware that you might not have the opportunity to do that.

My point is this, I know what these two unusual little things mean to me and at this stage of my life I am not willing to compromise that for a paycheck. This line of thinking is likely to change in the next few years as I evolve as a person and that is completely fine... But for now, I know myself well enough to say that I'd only want to work in an environment that is understanding and accepting enough for my face to not be weird. If that can't happen, I probably can't and do not want to work for you.