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Thursday, 24 February 2011

"You have to learn to fit in with the world."

This morning, I got dressed in a simple pair of dark-coloured jeans and a plain black polo-neck jumper. I only wore blush and mascara, which for me felt like being half-naked. The reason I was toning down my usually-extravagant daywear was because... I was going to the doctor's. Unfortunately, my ruse didn't work. I was hoping to avoid the lecture I tend to receive from my GP regarding my appearance - particularly my piercings.

The first time I received this lecture, I was looking for a job, and the Doc advised me, reasonably gently, that I might not get far with my collection of face furniture. Which was well-intentioned and honest advice, and in some cases might well be true - Waitrose, for example, will not hire people with facial piercings. But, having spent rather a lot of money and gone through a moderate amount of pain, I was not willing to remove so much as a single stud.

Unemployable?
This decision might not be right for everybody - I had savings to keep myself afloat until I found a job I was happy and comfortable with, but had my situation been more desperate I might have had to take out my piercings if it would help me find work faster. As it turns out, a few months later I ended up in a good, solid contract with the county council and worked my ass off at their offices for half a year, not once receiving a negative comment on any aspect of my appearance, despite the fact that since I was an 'arts' administrator, I decided I could dress as 'creatively' as I chose. ;-)

I also have a volunteering job working in retail, so I spend an awful lot of time face-to-face with the general public. Again, not one negative comment - although an elderly lady did ask if my piercings hurt.

However, every time I have gone back to the doctor's since this first lecture, I have received the same again. The first time - and the second - I could take it as it's meant; sensible advice, whether or not I choose to take it. (I still do not choose to take it. There is not a single aspect of my appearance or lifestyle that affects my ability to do a job, work hard, and be good at it. I will tone down as much as I need to if I really want a particular job, but I am not giving up the modifications I love and that I spent good money on. If an employer can't come to terms with this, well, there are other jobs.) By now, this lecture is beginning to feel like haranguing, hence my attempts to avoid it.

Today I found myself becoming frustrated, and remarked, "Well, I can take out the piercings, but the tattoo could be a problem." The Doc was not amused, and responded with, "You have to learn to fit in with the world."

As much as I hate to argue with the good advice of my doctor... no, you don't. You have to learn when it's OK to be extravagant and when you have to exercise moderation. You need to wear correct attire for funerals, weddings, religious services and job interviews. You have to learn how different types of people will respond to you based on your appearance and decide when to adjust your look accordingly.

But it IS possible to get and keep a decent job if you are obviously and visibly Goth or alternative. You can find a relationship; get married; have children; get promoted; buy a house... these things and more are not denied to you if you decide to have body modifications, dye your hair a colour not found in nature or dress in an eccentric and flamboyant manner.

Obviously you need to use a modicum of common sense - you can't turn up to interviews half-naked, for example - but there is no reason why someone who looks visibly different should be denied the same opportunities as anybody else. You don't need to give up Goth once you leave college and have to find work, reach a certain age, or realise you are ready for a serious relationship.

Yes, in some professions, visible body mods and such will hold you back - the military and the police force being obvious examples - but that still doesn't mean that once you hold such a job you have to 'grow up and stop being a Goth'. Is this job important enough to you to be worth taking out your piercings and growing out your undershave? If it is, you might need to remove your eyebrow bars and dye your hair black instead of lime green, but you don't have to 'fit in' and give up the subculture that you love. You just need to learn the art of compromise.

I am not being defiant or rebellious by choosing to keep my appearance this way - I love my mods and my unusual fashion choices, I do not have them to piss people off but because I LIKE them. Furthermore, I have met people online and know people personally who have far more tattoo coverage, more piercings, and more extravagant daywear than me, and they still manage to hold down good jobs which they enjoy. I am setting my standards at that level because I can see no reason why I should not be able to do the same.

Don't change to suit 'the world' - do what you have to do to get where you want to be, but other than that let the damn world take you as you are.

Listening to: East - The Cruxshadows

17 comments:

Julietslace said...

My manager at Tesco was alternative and sneakily told me I could get away with lip piercings if I used clear ones until they healed, most places (including Waitrose) don't actually care if you take them out. Stuiff your Dr ;D

Laurel said...

Maybe you should find a new doctor? I'm learning that different people are bothered by different things--my family has a thing against unusual hair cuts and colors. But strangely, tats and piercings don't seem to scare them (my mother once told a guy with tats and piercings at the local Goodwill, "My daughter will love you!"). I've read a ton of information on how to look, act, and get ahead in the career world--but the more I do, the more out of touch with reality it seems. I think it depends on the person, really. If the majority of the people around you aren't bothered by your appearance, then those that are shouldn't matter. On the other hand, if everyone is up in arms over how you look--either tone it down or find a new situation where you will be respected regardless of your apearance.

Duvessa said...

My sister works in a library (in Finland) and she has black&green hair, tattoo on her neck, lip, nose and tongue piercings and wears bondage trousers or some other alternative clothing. She's gotten weird looks from customers but no comments from her superiors. But it really depends on a work place. I work in a bank and don't think it would be too good to have face full of piercings or huge tattoos (I know people with one piercing or small showing tattoo so it's not too strict). And I had flaming red hair when in customer service :D

I've had probably snapped at the doctor if I was you :P It's not any of his business if you get a job or not - especially not after warning about it the first time.

Stephanie said...

I'd find a new doctor. You shouldn't have to argue with him over stupid stuff like that. He is not your parents, and he shouldn't be sticking his nose into your personal life. He should just make sure that you're not sick and get on with it.

You would love the place I live. We all have tattoos and piercins. It's almost IMPOSSIBLE to run into someone who doesn't have a body mod. Hell, we have 6 tattoo shops right in town! If you tried to hire someone without tattoos, you'd probably be looking for a long time. =]

Emily Lynn G. said...

Can I be you when I grow up? :) <3

Angel of Darkness said...

Ah, doctors. . . my doctor isn't bad, but others I have been too when asked if I do drugs (and I say no looking in their eyes, not lying) look me up and down and give me a look of "ya right".

ReGreta said...

You should find another doctor. You don't want to be giving him your money since he's clearly a judgmental bigot.

The Green Fairy said...

I work with green hair and my piercings and they don't care :P They are always asking me to come in with my mohawk up :P But then again, I don't have to deal with the public at all :P And I work hard.

I refuse to change the way I look for a job, it's the only thing in my life right now that I do like so they can go jumo if they expect me to change.

In fact, I'm in the middle of posting a blog post on what I wore to work yesterday :P

C said...

Hey, I found you from Stephanie @ The Odd Duck.

I love what you've expressed in this post. Good on ya! With body mods, in particular, becoming ever more popular, the "general populace" is going to have to learn to accept them at some point or another.

KatSlaughter said...

I've been told I look like a smoker/druggie while I actually don't even drink. That just proves that one cannot be judged by appearances.. It is good to compromise and dress appropriately for certain situations, but you have to still like the way you look.

Laurel said...

My doctor is great- shame he's always booked so I had to swap to the university one. Although they seem more paranoid about me being pregnant than being a goth :P I think if that was to happen in Australia I would put it down to the kind of people that seem to get into the course in my city. Read: "Mummykins is a doctor, daddy is a doctor and my brother just graduated" sort of thing. Like everyone in my family is atheist so I get a little surprise whenever I realise that someone around me is.

So far all of the other Law students are pretty boringly dressed. It seems like the interesting people are in philosophy or film- I'm jelly. I saw a girl with a green asymetrical undercut and felt under-dressed. Could it be time for a relapse? :)

I handed in my resignation from work and they wouldn't take it so I dyed my hair purple/black. They said nothing. As it turns out they are more scared of me leaving than being unprofessional. I recogn that qualification and trouble finding other people to fill your position can lead to a lot of leeway.

ultimategothguide said...

My doctor is usually great, it's just this one thing that niggles me. Don't get me started on the 'you look like a druggie' thing, I have a post coming soon about experiences with ANOTHER doctor (what is it with me and doctors).

@ Emily Lynn - aw ^^ *hugs*

Russell said...

I think your doctor is just pissed/jealous because he's in an extremly conservative profession and would never be allowed to do it. He was taught the belief my family espouses: "conform or die!"

Adam said...

Thanks for posting this. I am a goth who is having trouble getting hired at the moment and I found this very inspiring and it is comforting to know I am not alone, thanks again :)

Marilyn Jay Freak said...

I know this is an old post... but I was browsing and I saw this one.
Wow, the doctor sounds like a bigot.
And I get crap for wearing black. Just black.
Sorry for ya!

FrozenFreak said...

I really don't know very much about his yet, but I do get a lot of shit if I even try to wear a corset or something to school. Let alone at a job interview, for something as small as a waitressing job. Oh well, it's nice to know that I'm not alone.

Cherry Divine said...

I've been chronically unemployable now for years and years. Even when I am tonning down my image. Nothing seems to work anymore. I've given up on the prospect of ever finding a job. I am what you and others may call EXCOMMUNICATED. Anton La Vey once quoted 'Love shouldn't be wasted on ingrates'. The world itself is an ingrate. Why trust people, if you are going to constantly meet bad luck all the time?

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