Monday 25 June 2018

Colourful hair/tattoos in the workplace: discrimination

Companies still discriminate in 2018... 
In 2018 how have companies still not learnt that people have every right to their individuality? That tattoos, piercings and colourful hair are what a lot of us see as our identity, or at the very least, a major part of what makes us "us". The freedom and symbolisation of getting a tattoo, colouring our hair or getting piercings is kind of the whole point.

Discrimination of tattoos and colourful hair is something I've experienced first hand and also via various other people in the workplace. If I'm honest, it's one of those things I feel passionate about, and it makes my blood boil that discrimination over tattoos, colourful hair and piercings is still prevalent in the working world. In 2018 it seems that many companies are still stiff and rigid about their employees having tattoos, piercings or colourful hair. We won't hold it against them (boring bastards). Some say in certain jobs it isn't "deemed appropriate" to have lots of tattoos or brightly coloured hair. But sadly my experience with being ticked off for having pink hair happened at quite a modern, loud, brash office that was very forward-thinking in most ways, yet unfairly dismissive in others. The worst part of all? I was actually complimented on having pink ombre in my hair at my interview for this job, and only later when new management took over did it then become a problem. 

My pink hair was a "problem" at work... 
I've got three small stars tattooed on my shoulder that can easily be covered up with a short sleeved top and in my hair I've only ever experimented with pink and purple ombre at the ends that can be washed out very easily. So far, so good for the corporate clone-head hiring me. When I first started this blog I decided I wanted to colour my hair; I only had pink and purple ombre in the ends. At the time I was working at a doctor's surgery and everyone complimented the colour in my hair, even a few of the doctors, which was lovely. Occasionally I worked on reception downstairs and having pink or purple in my hair was never deemed a problem. I never had any issues with colourful hair in other jobs until ironically, I was working in an office full of banter, modern-day acceptance and general forward thinking when it came down to passions like blogging, chasing your dreams and all that stuff I like. For the first time I was proud and happy to have found a job I really genuinely loved.

Unfortunately everything changed a year or so down the line when new management took over. Suddenly the pink hair I had at the time was a problem. I was encouraged not to do it anymore, as the "new boss might not like it". One girl working on reception was told to cover up a tattoo on her wrist - by putting on a cardigan. It was a scorching day in July. She refused, saying she was too hot. Her tattoo had never been deemed a problem before. Another was told not to wear low-cut tops as it didn't give out a "professional image". It smacked ridiculously of the "button up and behave" expectation that women were surely supposed to serve in the 1950s. All the while, male banter was encouraged - I often heard sexist remarks being thrown around the office for entertainment. There were so many "one rule for one" themes going on it got laughable. Employees that were hard working BUT just so happened to have tattoos, bright hair or piercings were being remonstrated all of a sudden - just to impress new management and make a sweeping statement. 

Companies need to respect our bodies and choices 
It didn't end there. Our boss started telling us to "dress smarter", "do this, do that". We got told off for every little thing and working life became hell. Emails were sent every minute of every day criticising us, pulling us apart. In a meeting with my boss and higher management I was ripped to shreds for my performance, everything I did was wrong and nothing I did was right. I decided enough was enough and quit soon after. I had to, the toxic environment was making me ill. We were spoken to like children, I was even texted on holiday reminding me to "come in on time next week, will you?". But one of the worst parts of the job for me remained having to pretend to be something I was not. My pink hair was a part of me, and washing it out made me miserable. Around the same time a girl working in Lush had complimented the colour in my hair and I'd told her grudgingly: "I have to wash it out for work". We started having a talk about how important it is for companies to acknowledge and respect our identities. It made me realise I didn't want to work in an environment that tried to make me a glossy, corporate clone. No thanks.

At the end of the day, isn't life short enough without having to feel restricted? Getting a tattoo or a piercing is often something personal we want on our body - why shouldn't we be able to do it for fear of missing out on a job opportunity? What right does a company have to disrespect OUR body, OUR choice? It should be our decision to make, not theirs. I remember having a similar discussion about tattoos in the workplace with someone once and they said to me: "I don't care, I'll get whatever tattoo I want. I'm not letting anyone tell me I can't". I lived for this attitude. Unfortunately in the past I've always stopped short of getting more tattoos because of the worry that it could affect work. And I HATE myself for that. In the present moment I don't particularly want any more tattoos until I finish my novel, then I've promised myself a shimmery colourful butterfly tattoo to celebrate. I want it to be a tattoo I can cover up if I like, but that's my choice, not down to a company. Likewise I'd love to dye my hair bright pink, but the time has never felt quite right yet. Again, if and when I do decide to go for full-blown colourful pink hair then it'll be my decision to make, not down to someone in head office. 

A disgusting attitude towards tattoos... 
One of the worst conversations about tattoos I've ever had was with a recruiter who phoned me up a few years ago about an administrative position. She told me the job would be working as a receptionist in a morgue. Wtf? I thought. No bloody way. Before I could jump in and politely tell her I wasn't interested in being a receptionist in a morgue, she made a point of asking if I had any tattoos. Interested in why she was asking, I told her I had three small stars on my shoulder. Can they be covered up easily? Yes, they can. Not like your awful attitude, I thought. She then started to launch into a whole crusade on how "tattoos aren't appropriate for this kind of job, it's a very sensitive environment and we don't want to cause grieving clients upset...." Now I know how upsetting this kind of thing can be from when we sadly lost my Nana and Grandad. But this woman's insinuation that tattoos would be causing more offence and upset to grieving people than them actually grieving? Come on, what the fuck?

I cut off the call as soon as I could and it started a whole raging debate in my head about how having tattoos could still be so frowned upon in this day and age. It made me paranoid about getting more tattoos in the future, would it affect a job opportunity? But what if I wanted to get a tattoo that couldn't be covered up? Why should a job make or break me getting more tattoos if I wanted them? How ridiculous, really, that in this modern day the debate still rages on.... 

Fired from her job for having blue hair 
I was dismayed to see a tweet that had gone viral a while back - it was about a girl with blue hair who had been sacked from her job that day because her hair colour made her "unprofessional". Apparently her employers had never had a problem with it before and then they decided on a whim, to sack her. It was her father who started the tweet, asking if anyone had a job opportunity for a hard working girl looking for a new opportunity. It was uplifting to see just how many people felt the same way as me about the whole thing - it was discrimination and pretty disgusting at that. I can't remember who this tweet was about, but I hope to God this girl found a fabulous new job opportunity out of such a bad experience - let's face it - she was much too good for a narrow minded, clapped-out company like that in the first place. Isn't it about time companies moved into the twenty-first century FGS? YKWIM? 

Come on companies, it's 2018! Be more forward-thinking because.... 
  • Your employees won't be happy if they feel restricted, having to "hide" an important part of who they are. Surely they'll be happier if they can have the freedom to express themselves? 
  • You make yourself look pretty old-fashioned, verging on victorian with a "no tattoos, piercings or colourful hair" rule to rival Henry VI. The majority of people these days have tattoos and want the choice to express themselves through colours in their hair or piercings if they decide. 
  • Pretty obvious, but you know it's 2018 right? You're kind of living in the dark ages. 
  • You might lose out on someone special just because you're not keen on a tattoo on their wrist or their pretty purple hair. And do you know what? It'll be your loss, not theirs. 
  • Never mind turning away a potential employee because of a tattoo, a lot of interested employees might actually be put-off by your old fashioned approach to this modern-day world. Discrimination is not cool, period! Need I say more? 

Has a company ever discriminated against you for having a tattoo? Colourful hair? Piercings? I'd be interested to hear your experiences! Do you ever worry about any of the above affecting a potential job opportunity - even in 2018?! 


  1. This was such an interesting read, I myself have tattoos and piercings and have had to cover them up for work. I also have to keep my hair a neutral colour for some job roles and I do wonder how it actually affects my performance... well it doesn’t at all!

    I believe companies have gotten better about the whole taboo around showing a tattoo, piercing or colouring our hair. When I worked at Primark they made me cover up and take jewellery out but now they have loosened the rules and it’s ok now.

    I hope soon every business will see that being ourselves doesn’t impact how we do our jobs!

    It’s great your speaking about this and everyone should give this a read Beaut!

    You keep being your wonderful self and being as individual as you want to be, you do you!

    Gem |

    1. Thank you a million my beautiful Gems! I can't tell you how much all your support and kindness always boosts me up, and this week I can't begin to tell you how much you brought so much sunshine and positivity my way that truly cheered me up doll 💖🌞

      I'm so sorry to hear you've had to cover up tattoos and piercings for work before. It really sucks 😔 I'm just as equally sorry to hear about your hair too as your gorgeous purple hair and all the other gorgeous colours you rock are truly stunning and deserve to be on display to the world 🦄🔮💕 You are SO right, your hair/piercings/tattoos doesn't affect your performance whatsoever! It's so bad that companies still have such old fashioned attitudes 👎

      That's so lovely to hear about Primark now being more relaxed and loosening the rules, that's just what we need! I totally agree beautiful babe, hopefully as you say all business will one day soon see that being ourselves doesn't impact our jobs. So much truth 🙌💖🦄

      I'm so happy you enjoyed the post sweetest babe and I can't thank you enough for all your kindness! Such a diamond babe and the world needs more gorgeous unicorns like you 💜💜💜

      So much love your way gorgeous goddess! 🦄🦄🦄

  2. omg does that ever annoy me. Its sad to say that you think in this day and age things have changed but it's still a very male dominated work force where most of the decision makers are male and create a sexist work environment without even thinking twice..

    1. Exactly! You're so right lovely 💖💪 It really is so frustrating and such a shame 😔 I just hope one day in the near future we see the major breakthroughs we so need 😘

  3. I loved reading this, I too have a large tattoo on my shoulder. I ALWAYS keep it covered at work, in fear that someone dislikes it and asks me why I got it. I honestly hate it when people ask me that question.. maybe its because I don't feel great about it myself. I want to get a cover up or work around to fix it.. so I guess it's a bit easier for me to want to keep it covered right now. But regardless, i work in a tech savvy office and women there dress up pretty nicely. I pretty much wear long sleeves or long sleeve t shirts and it's not so bad.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words beautiful! 💗 I'm so sorry to hear you feel you have to keep your tattoo covered, I bet it's gorgeous ✨ I know what you mean, sometimes it feels as though people can be a bit too inquisitive about tattoos and sometimes it starts to feel a bit judgemental which sucks 😔 I know whatever you decide be it a cover up or work around it will look lovely and be the right decision for you 🙌

  4. I am sorry to hear about your experience! I had the same experience with hair pink bright pink when I worked in one the company before. I had to dye it back to my natural hair ): they thought I am not good enough just because I have strands of pink hair . Since then I have never dyed my hair pink again.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comment lovely ❤️ I'm so sorry to hear about your bad experience with bright pink hair - I bet it looked stunning! 💖 It makes me so sad your company had that disgusting attitude towards you. You deserve so much better than that 💕 I really hope you get to dye it in the future again ☺️💖

  5. it's sad if the companies they don't let us to be ourselves- I am sorry to hear that you had a problems with your pink hair. I have tattoos and thanks God my company respect me as I am xx

    1. You're so right lovely - it definitely is such a shame when companies don't let us be ourselves 😔 I'm so happy to hear your company respects you as you are, more companies definitely need to take note! 💖 Thank you so much for your lovely comment ☺️

  6. Instead of companies focusing a person's talent and abilities, they would rather complain about things that doesn't matter. Smh!! That is the world we live in now I guess. Sorry you had to go through this Sophie. Nobody should have to endure something like that. We can only hope for changes beautiful. Have a lovely weekend. :-)

    1. Exactly! You're so right Missy! I wish companies would move out of the olden days and into this new modern world - seems that so many are still stuck on stale 😭 Thank you so much for all your kind words beautiful babe, you're always so sweet to me and I can't tell you how much it means to me 💖 I so hope you're having the loveliest weekend gorgeous! 💗 xxxx

  7. Dear Sophie!
    I am sorry to hear this, I think that is so unfair to treat people like that. Back in the time like 10 years ago when I was modeling a lot, I got some press article in the news paper and I also got fired a few weeks later because they did not like employees who get so much attention. Anyways I am happy myself not have to work there.
    Have a beautiful sunday! x Eva

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words beautiful! 💖🙌 I'm so sorry to hear about you having such a horrible experience - they should be ashamed of themselves for treating you like that, you deserved so much better than that and are worth a million times more 💕 I'm glad you don't have to work there anymore - they didn't deserve you ✨😘 xxxx

  8. This is a cool topic that I had never thought about, maybe because I've never experience this type of discrimination- although I have been discriminated against for my race, and skin color. :/ It all sucks!! I actually don't have any tattoos because I feel that I would get tired of looking at the same thing on my body and would want to change it up, so it would not work for me. I do love your stars and appreciate the art of it all! I think the corporate environment can be rough depending on where you work. My sister works in the video game industry and they are cool with tattoos and choice of hair color, but I understand not all companies are that cool. I hope you are in a much better place now Sophie! Thanks for shedding a light on this subject babe.