Archive for December, 2009


{I originally posted this on my HR blog, but thought it would be appropriate  to post on this one as well.}

This picture is of my left forearm. As you can see, I have a tattoo. This is not my only one, but it’s by far the largest one. For now anyway. I love tattoos. I think they’re beautiful (most of them) and am always intrigued when I see someone with a full sleeve or other extraordinary body art.  I do; however, always find myself wondering what type of job the person has.

As the name of this blog denotes, I work in HR – your typical buttoned-down, PC, office type job.  I consider myself to be fairly conservative (not in the political sense) however, I have a healthy anti-authority streak and I’m far from PC.  This is a running joke between myself and one of my colleagues.  I’m something of a rebel with a cause.

I’ve had two recent experiences that have gotten me thinking about image in the workplace, especially as it relates to tattoos.  An intern that worked in our main office asked me about my tattoo. He said that he wanted to get one in the same location but was fearful of how it may affect his job prospects and asked me if it had affected mine.  I had to be real with him – it had never been a concern of mine. My feeling is that a job is just what I do during the day; I have to be ME 24/7. I wanted this tattoo so I got it. Quite frankly, any employer or client who chooses not to work with me because of it is not someone I want to work with anyway. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. It has no effect on how I do my job.

A few weeks ago, I co-presented an HR 101 seminar and one of the attendees asked about the risk of setting policies surrounding appearance, to include ‘no (visible) tattoos or piercings.’  My question to that person was “how is this job related?” The response: “Well, people with tattoos and piercings can be perceived negatively by customers.” Wow. Really? Of course, at the time I was wearing a suit, so the person did not realize that I have a tattoo.

Now, I’m no dummy – I realize that a lot of people associate body art with a (sub) counter-culture, but should people have to live their lives repressing their true nature because of that? Should someone be deemed unemployable because they want to express whatever it is they’re expressing on their bodies? I say a resounding “NO, NO, NO!”  There are so many much bigger things in the world to deal with; and when it comes to the business world, people should always and only be judged for their ability to perform.

I’m sure some people reading this will believe that I am biased on this issue because I have tattoos (and maybe also because I have bright red hair) but that is not the case at all. I just believe in a person’s right to exercise a freedom of personal appearance and not have it hinder his/her ability to make a living as he/she so desires.

Now, hygiene, that’s a different story- poor hygiene is just plain unacceptable!

Update: December 14, 2009- Last week the Washington Post ran an article about the acceptance, or lack thereof, of tattoos in the workplace in DC. A co-worker emailed it to all staff and a few of them (including the Pres/CEO) made comments basically agreeing with the mindset that people should cover up their tattoos at work.  I honestly took their response as a slap in the face b/c I DO NOT cover my tattoo at work, so everyone knows about it. I will continue to not hide it. I will wear it proudly and I will get more. It annoys me that people can be so small-minded on some issues.

Be who you want to be today.

…TMR…

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For the past few weeks, casual phrases such as “Hello” and “Goodbye” have been replaced by “Happy Holidays.” Friends, co-workers, cashiers at the grocery store…everyone feels compelled to say “Happy Holidays” and of course, I respond with the obligatory “Happy Holidays” or “Same to you.”  I tell you, I can’t wait for the “holiday season” to be over. Dead.  Done with.

Outside of getting time off from work (which, believe me, is TRULY needed and appreciated) this time of year isn’t all that happy for me; and I know I’m not the only person who feels this way.  I can barely muster up the requisite “joy” for the sake of the children, which everyone is quick to inform me I must do.  Whatever. I stayed in my pajamas on Christmas day.

Don’t get me wrong – I know that I am blessed to have a home, food, clothing, a job, my physical health, etc. and I do not take any of that for granted at all. I am grateful everyday, even when it may not seem like it.  Still, the holidays serve as a huge reminder to me of what I no longer have – parents and a romantic relationship.  When I’m thinking of gift-giving, I can no longer wonder what to get my Dad, or if my Mom will like what I chose for her.  I have no significant other (not even any prospects) to gift with a sweater/watch/cologne/Kama Sutra kit.  I love my children; but they are no replacement/consolation for either.

I know I’m not the only one who doesn’t jump for joy around this time of year.  Some people have Seasonal Affective Disorder and thus for them, the issue is biological. For others, the holidays bring up a sense of loss and/or loneliness. For me, it’s probably a combination of the two. Some people feel financial pressure to gift more than they can afford. Whatever the reason, everybody’s holidays aren’t gonna be happy.

That ever present “Happy Holidays!” refrain can be almost as grating to my ears as the Salvation Army bell. (No disrespect, but that bell is annoying.) People say it on auto-pilot, just as they say “How are you?” knowing they don’t really care. I know people mean well; I’d just rather not hear it. I hate to sound like Scrooge or the Grinch – just keeping it real.

Be who you want to be today.

…TMR…

book: posing beauty

I’ve been on a serious “African-American images” kick lately.  I’m super intrigued by the work of such seminal artists as Carl Van Vechten, Gordon Parks and James Vanderzee. To that end, I recently ordered the book “Posing Beauty: African-American Images from 1890 to the Present” by Deborah Willis.  This book contains gorgeous images of both famous and everyday African-Americans. Anyone with an interest in photography and/or African-American history should check out this book.

Be who you want to be today.

…TMR…

..Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’ and I have something in common. We both spend a lot of time thinking. Every few months I tell myself that I will get better with my blogging. So I put up a post, maybe two, with the full intention of making it a regular habit. Then I’ll think about it. On a regular basis I’ll say to myself “you should do a blog post today.” Days go by, then weeks, then months…and nothing. But I’m still thinking about it. Do you see a pattern developing? Between work and Twitter(I’m a serious Twitter addict) I’m on the computer all the time, but..nothing. Still thinking. It finally occurred to me today why this happens. I’m over thinking the art of blogging!

Years ago I bought a book called “Women Who Think Too Much” recognizing myself in the title. It occurred to me today that this habit of over thinking has inhibited my blogging. I keep thinking that I have to post these fascinating pearls of wisdom, these brilliant manifestos…when really,all I have to do is post whatever I feel like posting. I had this idea that I had to make my blog super interesting, super eloquent – SUPER everything, or else what’s the point? I finally had the light bulb moment today that I was completely missing the point. I can post a sentence, a paragraph, a photo – whatever. This blog is about me and my interests and whatever comes to mind. Now that I’ve broken through this mental block, you can expect to see many more posts. I’m so excited. I hope you are too.

Be who you want to be today.

…TMR…