She Said/She Said: Are Facial Piercings At Work Ever OK?

We’ve covered tattoos in the workplace, but what about facial piercings? Is there a difference between a subtle stud in the nose and an eyebrow ring? Or are they all the same?

Despite having visible tattoos, The Grindstone‘s Associate Editor, Amanda Chatel is anti-piercings in the office, while newspaper Copy Editor, Bea Meredith thinks they’re fine. The two debate the topic. And talk smack about dolphin tattoos in the process.

Amanda:  Despite having tattoos I’m totally against facial piercings in the office. Granted, I feel like a hypocrite, but they just seem so inappropriate and distracting. What are your thoughts, Bess?

Bea:  A delicate stud in the nose or clip to the brow would hardly hinder one from productivity in the workplace. I realize that employers would probably consider an “all or nothing” policy when it comes to piercings, as some are more tasteful, perhaps, than others (I personally shirk at the studs-through-the-neck-skin look). But as someone who has a facial piercing of nearly 13 years, it hasn’t been an issue in any professional setting, nor has it interfered with my work. And c’mon… distracting and inappropriate? A pierced lip is no more grotesque than a poorly-inked Grateful Dead bear on one’s upper chest. I’d be more apt to suggest outlawing low-cut tops!

Amanda:  So you mean to tell me that some wonky-ass pierced lip is an OK look for an office? What if the employee in question is at the front desk? Or god forbid, in the food industry? Just think about loose skin and scabbing that could fall in food or on a desk or on a client! It’s just wrong. And creepy… I won’t even get into the passe factor of a lip or eyebrow ring…

Bea:  Scabs? That’s an entirely different office issue. I can’t remember the last pierced individual I saw that had flaking skin hanging and/or falling from a pierced area, let alone open scabbing. My thought for employers is that if scabbing is the concern, perhaps it’s best to evaluate said employee’s overall hygiene – focus less on the brow ring, more on the skin-care habits? Or might I suggest a dermatologist in the company’s healthcare plan?

Look, I get it. Some piercings should have stayed in 1995 with their trendy friends, miniature backpacks and the Counting Crows. But there is no way an office can accept tattoos and not accept piercings. I think professionals have to ask themselves: Does this dolphin tatt around my ankle dedicated to “Shawn” go well with my white, walk-to-work hightops? If so, then oversized ear gauges, large enough to serve as an office desk caddy, should also be tolerated.

Amanda: No. And I fear we’re going to have agree to disagree at some point. Gauged ears – and I had them when I was 21 or so (granted they were small and girlie) – are absolutely inappropriate. That’s the type of shit you see on bike messengers or the faux homeless kids on St. Mark’s Street. They’re clearly statements of “not wanting to belong,” and “oh, look I’m an individual!” It’s cute when you’re 13, but at some point, you need to get over it. Because you know what? You’re not being original – you’re just displaying a different form of “bucking the system” that has been around since the dawn of time. Every generation had their answer to being an outcast… grow up and get over it.

Yikes, I totally just betrayed the 13 year old in me, that I swore I never would. And obvs dolphin tattoos should not be tolerated either… along with high tops or white socks – unless you’re a nurse.

Are you taking this stance because of your nose ring, or would you feel the same way sans your piercing?

Bess:  ”You’re not being original?”

Although I appreciate those who attempt to curate the trends and tell me when my decisions are “in” or “out,” I’ve never chosen a fashion statement or accessory because of its originality. It’s pretty much impossible for me anyway, mainly because my closet is full of previously-worn 1960s frocks and wearing vintage is the opposite of originality – it’s recycling in its most perfect polyester form. To be unique is to do or wear something one time and one time only, for the first time, like no other, and this is nearly impossible. My guess is that, like myself, others with piercings came to their decision not out of a want or need for originality. Just as you didn’t choose your tattoos out of a want for originality, but rather out of a general desire or appreciation of how it appears on oneself, how it makes you feel. Or maybe just out of general boredom…

Vocabulary aside, ultimately I would never accept a job with a company or office that would attempt to tell me when it was time for me to “get over it.” I can wear a piercing until I’m 85, just as you will wear whatever ink you have chosen for life. Or not. That is my choice to make, not that of my employer. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m at work and have to get back to looking original at my desk while on deadline.

Amanda:  Well then. I guess I should get back to picking out my next tattoo of a dolphin.

You can reach this post's author, Amanda Chatel, on twitter.
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    • Emily

      To be honest I think tattoos in the office are way more inappropriate then a small piercing. That being said I feel for both tattoos and piercings it often depends on the size and area of the piercing. If you have a tattoo on your ankle, wrist or somewhere in a hidden place, I think that’s cook. However if you have a half-sleeve I feel that’s incredibly inappropriate for an office settings.

      As for piercing, huge spacers I would definitely deem inappropriate for the workplace, I cringe when I see people in the street with them. And more then one piercing and the placing of the facial piercing definitely have to do with the class of whether it is inappropriate.

      I however have a munroe piercing, it’s small and some people even consider it classy. I definitely have never had it “scabby and crusting” onto the floor. That’s beyond disgusting. However I have had one retail job and am now on my third office job and none of my employers have had a problem with it.

    • Moses

      You are not a hypocrite for voicing your concern over facial piercings and skin inking. It is a fact and bluntly saying is inappropriate. At best to say, it is worse than a distraction, it is downright pitiful and ugly. Facial piercings and tattoos may be a thing that has come mainstream or not yet, but when everyone thinks about it, it comes down to an individual who decides he/she wants more out of looking different from everyone else and its about attitude. There are no benefits for probing metal and embedding color on skin rather than it is both unclean and dangerous, and it is a bad influence to our children and youth. It is not okay to change your looks in this manner. Everyone can see these people. I have known people who and some who are good friends and they are professionals, they can be well mannered, and tend to co-exist with those of us who do not wear metal and ink on our faces and body. But I am outraged when women are not more than ever inking themselves and piercing their faces. I blame man for corrupting woman. God gave us free will, but with that free will, there is too much of it now and it has been abused and continues to be abused. These two materials make for a material man, in his/her way of thinking, his beliefs, and notariety. Yes. Notoriety. Peope have become notorious for their ways and they have succumbed to this way of lifestyle because they choose to explore and live out this fantasy of looking different. I love them all anyway because they are our fellow citizens, but gosh darnit! I’m sick of it! It’s not okay! I don’t care to read what someone’s dam tattoo says but they wear for all to read and see. Why people get piercings and tattoos instead of being true to yourself by living by values and work earned by deeds. I was reared this way and I thank God everyday. Tattooes and piercings is a bad influence on society. Everyone with a tattoo and body piercing has an attitutude problem. Leviticus 19:28 Thou shall not bear any markings on thy flesh for I am the Lord. And earrings are for women and not MEN! Men look horrible! Stop piercing, stop tattooes. Close every tattoo store.

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