Old-Fashioned Stigmas: Finally Outdated?

What kind of reactions can you expect when you get 3.3mm holes punched into your ear lobes? Surprising ones, actually. Well, I was certainly surprised, based on what I’ve been told about being presentable to “society” and the reactions I received for a single ear piercing a few years back. But let me explain.

Recently I got my ears gauged. Gauging is the act of stretching out piercings to increase the size of the hole. But I skipped the whole piercing part and jumped right up to the first major gauge size. Of course, I went to a professional to have it done. So I now have two rather large rings through my ear lobes while my ears heal over.

When I got my first piercing years ago, I got one reaction that, by today’s standards, would be considered “old-fashioned” by most people. My earring, just a silver speck on my left lobe, raised the question of “How does he plan on getting hired with that?!” for this particular person. The idea had never struck me that any physical modification (be it piercing, hair or tattoo) differs from the norm could prevent me from getting a job.

Now, in a job that involves constant interaction with customers, you’d think even slightly gauged ears would be unacceptable. But it seems that while that old-fashioned ideas of presentability and normalcy may have once been dominant in the workplace, they no longer hold in many industries. I have co-workers with visible tattoos, others with coloured hair, and then there is me and my newly gauged ears.

Now, I’m not saying it’s OK to go out and get a tattoo of an obscene or graphic nature and then expect it not to be a problem, but as long as you put some thought into it and look into the proper channels, you may find that an ink job is a lot more acceptable than in times past.

Anyway: reactions. When you get holes punched into your ears, you get a wide variety, ranging from “You’re stupid” to “Wicked, dude.” Toss in a few “Oh my god I could never do that”s when you tell them that the needle was about the size of an adult pinky finger, and even more “Ew, ew, ew, ew”s when you tell them about the blood, and you have a few weeks’ worth of amusing conversation material. The one reaction I’m glad not to have gotten was “You’re fired.” Not that I was expecting it.

My favourite responses to my ears so far, though, have got to be from my parents. “Why couldn’t you have gotten a tattoo like your brother?” was my mom’s. My dad lectured me on the cost effectiveness of the process: “That’s one shift’s worth of work there.” I mean, where is the fun in rebelling when you get responses like these?

Anyway, moral of the story is less a moral than it is a new understanding: that society is getting over its old-fashioned social stigmas in the workplace and are beginning to accept a wider variety of personal choices and characteristics. While the stigma is still in place in certain work environments, it’s comforting to know that my generation still has hope in the “world of work” even with holes in our heads.

Follow me here to find out about what I’m getting tattooed on my face this week: http://www.twitter.com/Phraserify (Just kidding, Mom.)

(Or am I?)

(No, I really am.)

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