Do You Hide Who You are for Work?

On tv all these makeup artists and nail techs and estheticians are usually alt(alternative) looking…(or from the east)

You would think working in this field bright hair, piercings and tattoos would be ok right? think again

photo by Day Vid Z 2014
Me at freelance work where I feel I can look like myself

But in the real world, there are lots of different kinds of people in this field of work. And especially in a smaller city like Thunder Bay, tattoos and bright hair is still looked at funny.

yes this is a xposted article from my old blog but it has been updated.

I will say this is more for the esthetics part of my job, it is a more serious and high end job. That comes with expectations, mostly clean cut looking.  Staying stylish is another big one. Now that I own my own business I have loosened up a bit, I work in a hair salon so my hair is no longer a big issue, but the tattoos still seem to be a bit. I wear my scrubs and nice shoes.

When I worked at the last spa, I had to ask my boss what colours I could dye my hair, and how bright. This was also my idea to compromise, I have respect for where I work, and the reputation of where I do.
When I worked for the College, by the end of my contract they were instituting a new rule saying only “natural hair colours”. I had already broken the dress code rule a bit; that you could sometimes see my tattoos, but I tried my hardest. I wore lots of scarves to cover up my chest piece that goes close to my neck. I also wore long sleeves under my short sleeved scrub top in our esthetics lab so you couldn’t see my half sleeve. I still do in the winter at work both for the fact I’m super cold but still trying to hide a big piece.

I also do admit that to some job interviewers, if I can tell they won’t even look at my resume because of my hair: I wear one of my natural colour wigs.

I don’t mind wearing a wig to work, I love changing it up but it is lying and I feel silly that because of the job market being so low I have to pull this shenanigans to just get my foot in the door(when I was job hunting)

I’m not saying that you have to give up who you are, or even put up with this. I always tell the truth once I get my foot into the door, I admit and ask about tattoos, bright hair and piercings.

Are they acceptable, can I show them off/try not to/or hide all of them? Are you ok with this hair colour? 

As makeup artists want to go full out everyday with their artistic style of makeup, but a situation to a fellow MUA who works in a cosmetics store blew me away a week ago:

My friend who can be called “goth” always has really beautiful, and unique makeup. She spends a good deal of time making it look perfect. If I walked into her store and was looking for a eyeliner: I’d immediately go ask her. She had a customer who didn’t care for her makeup, instead of asking her anything about it or just ignoring it like I am sure many people do. The customer had her husband make a gigantic scene to her boss. The boss did apologize to the customer but did not defend her staff member.

I do compromise my standards, which is unfair but I need to put food on the table for my family and help keep a roof over our heads.  I totally don’t agree with the standards that are out there still, the way I look shouldn’t affect the fact that I am well educated, polite and good at my job.

This is my favourite picture that proves my point

This is how I dress for business meetings, different networking events or other more serious things:

Business Fashion
I hope soon in the future it will be 100% unjust to deny someone a opportunity based on how they look.
You can look at me and think that I spend all my time getting drunk and listening to punk music and doing nothing but drugs.
You wouldn’t think that I have a diploma in esthetics, nail technician,  funeral services and liberal arts(focusing on sociology and psychology). I have a university level understanding of chemistry, biology, anatomy and infectious materials from taking the mortuary sciences course added into the diploma in funeral services.  Or that I am a step mom to 2 beautiful kids and a loving wife.
I like to think I am a pretty smart cookie, and that listening to punk and metal and loving tattoos shouldn’t have anything to do with it.
Once my clients and business associates get to talk to me for more than 2 minutes they totally get me.

If you are alternative looking, what do you think? Do you hide your tattoos or have been forced to change your makeup, style or hair colour to keep your job?


2 thoughts on “Do You Hide Who You are for Work?

  1. great post, I am a nurse and I just made the move into the corporate setting doing some telephonic disease management stuff, I love my new job and never thought I would be in a position so conservative. That being said, last year just before I turned 30 I got dreads, I’d waited all my life and decided there never really would be a “right time”, and I kept them when I got this job. Much to my surprise my adorable boss asks me lots of questions and seems genuinely interested and even tried to help me find someone in our area to maintain them for me. I have to dress business casual which is a change because I’ve worn scrubs for the last 10 years, so I have had to find a way to meet their standards yet still feel like myself. As for my tattoos, I have small ones on the inside of my wrists I don’t even think about anymore, but I have a lower leg sleeve I keep under tights if I wear a dress. The part that covers the top of my foot is out for all to see, and they all seem to like it, but I have’t tried introducing the rest of it yet, and I may never push that one. I knew going into nursing I would have to keep a part of myself put away, but I feel like my reputation speaks for its self and that’s one reason (just like you) that I am able to “get away” with being a little more edgy than most. Unfortunately people are going to judge, but I think it’s getting better. 🙂


  2. I enjoyed reading your piece and I have to agree it really does not matter what you look like. What matters is what you know and you can do the job properly and treat clients or anyone at that matter with respect. I have tats myself but to be honest do I hide them from clients….no will I ever … I do my job well and I treat my clients well. So yes its unfair for people to judge but usually its people who find faults with themselves. As for people with tats, pearcings colored hair they are usually the nicest ones.
    Cheers great article and never change for anyone if you feel you had to they are not worth what you can offer.


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