Throughout the years, piercings have received a unique type of discrimination in American society. Those with non-mainstream piercings have earned harsh labels, such as trashy or low class. Such a simple style choice tends to bring about negative feelings in those who don’t understand the culture surrounding piercings.
But, that’s changing.
The Millennial generation tends to be more accepting of diversity and personal choices. The Pew Research Center says, “[Millennials] embrace multiple modes of self expression… Nearly four-in-ten have a tattoo… Nearly one-in-four have a piercing in some place other than an earlobe—about six times the share of older adults who’ve done this.”
It’s clear, then, that piercings are officially entering mainstream acceptance. However, as every new generation takes the stage, there’s bound to be a bit of a generation gap. While Millennials embrace alternative styles, older generations still hold qualms against facial piercings in the workplace.
While we love facial piercings, and we’re celebrating their mainstream acceptance, the reality is that facial piercings can affect your career. Here’s what you need to think about before getting a facial piercing.
The unsatisfying answer to this is, maybe.
Whether or not your piercings will affect your ability to get hired will have to do with the number of piercings that you have, the industry you work in, and the overall office environment.
If you’re applying for a behind-the-scenes office position at a more progressive startup, your piercings might not have any effect on whether or not you get hired. Conversely, if you’re looking for a front-facing sales position at a more conservative company, it’s likely that your piercings will be viewed negatively.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, industries in the creative fields, like art, music, and writing, tend to embrace piercings more than other fields. Creatives are all about individual expression, including body modifications. Often, you’ll find that piercings are not only accepted but embraced and encouraged in these fields.
It’s important to note, however, that if you plan on entering a creative field that requires meetings with clients, customers, or other business owners, your facial piercings could be a turn off for more conservative clientele.
Startups, non-profits, and other smaller businesses are also more likely to accept piercings. Their employee rules will likely be a little more lenient than large corporations, and many times they are run by younger owners who could have a more liberal view when it comes to piercings.
The acceptance of your facial piercings will depend upon the company that you work for. Many larger companies will have specific policies banning facial piercings. If you work for a smaller, younger company, however, they might be a little more lenient.
Customer service roles tend to be the ones with the biggest anti-piercing rules. As a customer service agent, you represent the company, and if facial piercings don’t align with their brand, the company won’t allow them.
If you travel internationally for work, you’ll want to keep in mind that other countries will have different views when it comes to piercings in the workplace. It’s a good idea to research the culture of countries you’ll travel to frequently for business in order to gauge whether a piercing is right for you, even if your employer allows it.
At the end of the day, whether or not you’ll be able to wear your facial piercings at work will depend upon your boss and the company. The fact is that, no matter your industry, your facial piercings could affect your employability.
Piercing discrimination is fairly arbitrary. Why are lobe piercings considered acceptable while a Monroe piercing is unprofessional? It mostly comes down to unwritten social rules, but the fact remains that not all piercings will be treated the same.
Cartilage piercings are almost universally accepted by even more conservative companies. As more and more people opt for multiple piercings throughout the ear, it’s difficult for employers to say no. If you have a cartilage piercing or two, it’s less likely to be frowned upon than other piercing types.
Small nose studs have also become more acceptable in recent years. As one of the most popular alternative piercing styles, it’s no longer strange to see someone with a nostril piercing. Additionally, it can be adorned with teeny gemstone studs, making it less noticeable than other piercing types.
Although a septum piercing isn’t likely to be accepted in the workplace, it’s incredibly easy to hide, even during healing. A circular barbell can be flipped inside the nose, and no one will even know that the piercing is there. Be careful if you choose this route; messing with the jewelry too much during healing can cause complications.
You can also choose body piercings away from the face that can be easily hidden. Belly button piercings, nipple piercings, and dermal piercings on your body (rather than your face) will stay beneath your work clothes during the day, so your boss doesn’t even need to know that they’re there.
Once your piercing is fully healed, it’s not too difficult to hide. You do need to be prepared to hide it every day, so here are some options for letting your piercing go incognito:
Piercing retainers are clear or skin-toned body jewelry pieces that keep the piercing open in a discrete way. In some piercings, like lip and eyebrow piercings, the retainer will still be fairly obvious, so not all employers will accept this option.
Wear small jewelry. If your jewelry isn’t too noticeable, then your employer could be more likely to let you wear it. On the same lines, you should always make sure that your jewelry is professional and reflects the dress code of the company.
Leave the jewelry out. This is a last-ditch solution for more conservative companies. Some won’t allow piercings at all, in which case, you will need to take out your jewelry. Keep in mind that even if your piercing has been healed for years, it could still close in a matter of hours, so choosing this route could mean the end of your piercing.
Embarking on your career journey will be rife with struggles, whether or not you’re pierced. You’ve worked so hard to make yourself employable; is it worth it to make a fashion choice that might risk your dream job?
The short answer is: probably not. But, that doesn’t mean that your piercing dreams are dashed.
If you’re still a few years from landing your dream career, then you have plenty of time to get a piercing that can be hidden. If you choose one on your face, like around the lips or the eyebrow, then make sure that you get a smaller gauge so that the holes aren’t noticeable when you don’t wear jewelry.
If you’re currently looking for your dream job, then it’s best to hold off on the piercing for now. Once you’ve landed your new position, you can explore your company’s policies to see which piercings will be accepted, and then you can get pierced guilt-free!
If you’re already employed somewhere that doesn’t allow piercings, then you have to decide which is more important: your career or your personal expression. Sometimes, working at a company that reflects your personal views is healthier than staying on for the benefits, but you need to think long and hard about whether your fashion choices are worth losing your livelihood.
To match the pierced aesthetic without having to worry about how it will affect your career, you can also wear faux body jewelry in places like your cartilage, nose, or lips. High-quality faux pieces can fool even the biggest piercing aficionados, and you’ll never butt heads with your boss about it.
We love piercings, but there’s still some way to go before they’re universally accepted in the workplace. Unfortunately, no matter what career you pursue, your piercings can affect your employability. Before getting a facial piercing, check out the risks, and make sure that your new bling doesn’t ruin your path to success.
Looking for smaller jewelry pieces that are subtle and still look fantastic? Shop for some luxurious body jewelry pieces that even conservative bosses will be more likely to accept.