Sunday, 19 February 2012

Unexpected Goth encounters and equal ops for body modders

Following on from the idea of yesterday's post, I was wondering how many of you guys had ever found a fellow Goth, alternative fashion or body mod enthusiast where you really didn't expect one. No, I don't mean in your back garden at three a.m., stop being ridiculous.

For example, you may remember when I worked in the arts office for my local council I was mildly surprised (although not that surprised, it was the ARTS department after all) to find out that I had a closet Goth, an ex-Goth and one full-blooded, clove-smoking, wearing-New-Rocks-under-my-suit Goth as fellow employees.

Frank the Baptist
I was surprised, recently, to discover that my regional support manager in my current job also describes herself as an ex-Goth, albeit a reluctant one - she told me that she only let the fashion and lifestyle slide because she found no one would give her a job. (After work that day I stopped by to speak to my manager and tell her that I appreciated her giving me free rein to wear whatever I choose, even though I'm in a customer-facing role. She said that she didn't think it should matter what a person wears.)

Does your dentist, doctor or bus driver have spooky tendencies? Does your child's primary school teacher have purple hair and tattoos on her arms under her smart blouses? Do you or have you had a punk or Lolita as a boss?

Oh! That reminds me! Whilst we're pointing out that people with unusual fashion choices, strange hair and, yes, even tattoos and piercings can hold down a job as well as the rest of us, I'd like to draw everyone's attention to the following petition (yes, another one). This petition was created by Patrick Hogan and is possibly an issue dear to many of your hearts.

I think by now most of us are resigned to the fact that covering up tattoos, dyeing our hair back to natural colours and taking out piercings is a part of life for many alternative lifestylers when they reach the job market. But unless your body mods or manner of dress pose potential dangers or hazards in your chosen field of work (bustle skirts and agriculture do not, generally, mix), they don't actually affect your ability to do your job. It's not like in school where drawing pictures on your arms could be a 'distraction' to the kid next to you - the tattoos are permanent now and the guy in the next office chair is probably not too freaked out by your half-sleeve to carry on with his own work.

There is a common sense element involved - if you want to work with small children, huge gauges in your ears might not be the brightest idea and if you have offensive tattoos (e.g. sexual imagery) I don't recommend you take up a positon doctoring old ladies unless you're willing to cover your tatts. But astonishingly enough most of the alternative community can understand such issues and would be more than likely to take steps to avoid causing any harm or offense.

Having pink hair, nose rings and a tattoo of Jack Skellington is not hurting anyone and I personally don't feel it should be an issue when employing someone. No, not even in a customer-facing role. Waitrose, for example, do not employ people with facial piercings, which frankly I feel is highly unneccessary and discriminatory as even the clientele of Marks and Spencers are unlikely to require the application of smelling-salts at the sight of an eyebrow ring.

So! Please sign the petition for including body modification in equal opportunity employment, and share your tales of either a) body modification discrimination or b) unexpected encounters of the Goth kind.


SaryWalrus said...

I've recently found that two teachers that have been teaching me for at least a year each are alternatively inclined.

One was telling me about how he used to customise a leather jacket and apparently you could buy studs back then. He had to make them himself.

Another teacher shares my love for Robert smith and you can tell by the fact that he always wears snazzy suits, waistcoats and pointy shoes that he likes alternative things.

I find it kind of funny how alone you feel but then you just wake up and realise that you're surrounded by like minded people. I suppose that's human thing to do. TO surround yourself with like minded people that is, even on a subconscious level.

On the other note a lot of jobs in my town have strict rules saying, no piercing (only one ear piercing each side), natural hair, no painted nails, no make up at all.

Alternatively, I did work at the local paper and spoke to the advertisers and journalists about clothing requirements and they seemed pretty fine. One even had a nose piercing!

Well, that was a long comment. :3

Anonymous said...

My high school English teacher was a goth but she kept it really subtle. She wore smart suits with a Bettie Page hairstyle and ankh jewellery. It was her that first got me reading Dracula. :D

My local M&S has a number of alternatively-enclined employees, including at least two people with full sleeve tattoos, a girl who wears very dramatic makeup and has several facial piercings and a guy with hair down to his waist.
That and one of my local bus drivers has massively stretched ears and a blue mohawk.
I do believe that alternative style and body mods are becoming more acceptable these days, which is an excellent thing, but there's still quite a long way to go. The sooner that employers realise that a person can have mods and unusually coloured hair and yet still be refined, eloquent and friendly, the better.

kakuidori said...

when i went to apply for my new job (that i really got in the end *squee*) i was a bit shocked because i havent seen a single employee who did NOT have at least one facial piercing, dyed hair or a tattoo sneaking out of their clothes! seriously this must be paradise ^_^

also at one of my old jobs there was a patient (i'm geriatric nurse) who was fully covered with tattoos, he was a sailor his entire life. (ok maybe not very alternative but that guy was awesome and had great stories to tell haha)

actually in the past few months alternative people seem to be everywhere o.O dunno where they have been hiding before?!

Trinidy Patterson said...

I have two older punk friends (in their thirties with kids together), one is going into nursing (the father) and the mother is going into social work. Both have tons of tattoos, and he had his ears stretched to a 7/8, and a mohawk at one point when his kids were born.
I've met a few postal workers here who you can tell are punks when they aren't on the job (since postal service requires a uniform), and i've been absolutely delighted by the number of older woman i've seen wearing big boots, with multi colored hair, and stripy socks.
It's wonderful to get the chance to see people who are "surviving" as alternative people, in our society.
Especially when you see women in their late 30s- early 40s with pink, white, and black hair.

Under_The_Stairs said...

My old dentist was goth back in the 80's.

Alexandriaweb said...

"I was surprised, recently, to discover that my regional support manager in my current job also describes herself as an ex-Goth, albeit a reluctant one - she told me that she only let the fashion and lifestyle slide because she found no one would give her a job."

I'm quite confused as to why she's an ex-goth then?
Most of the Goths I know from the local club night, and from festivals have "proper jobs" some doctors, teachers, IT technitions and even some big bussines people, they just don't wear their Gothic finery whilst at work, take out their peircings and cover their tattoos, once the work day ends they're "back in black" so to speak.

Amy Asphodel said...

Alexandriaweb - Presumably it didn't occur to her as an option. She had that air of 'oh we all grow up and grow out of it don't we'. I've met a few people now that seem to assume that the only option in adulthood is to move on. :-/

Anonymous said...

I used to have an informatic teacher at my secondary school, one day he saw that my friend and I were into gothic music, and asked if we knew Bauhaus, i was at my babybat years back then but knew some of their music, then he gently start talking to us about his gothic age and how he had been a fan of Bauhaus for years, that he never felt wearing black, but described himself as an old goth, by the rest of the year he used to lend us his cd's, it was a totally surprise knowing about him, but it was pretty nice.

Anonymous said...

Weeeeeeeeeell, the problem is just one: people are not free to dress therirself as they want because of some society rules. Most of them (me too..) need to adhere to this rules at least in part. I'm not the kind of person that whant to have a lot of tatoo, piercing, etc. but, yes, I dont like too to go dressed in the standard, normal, boring way requested by a typical office...
Due to this "problem" ("big problem" should I say because at the end of the month we need a salary...) most of us (I would like to call us "people with fantasy and free mind") stay hidden. With "people with fantasy and free mind" I want to group everybody want to show his own fantasy... can be a Goth, Dark, Punk or any other kind of person.

Sorry, long comment too ^_^
Sorry also for my english errors: it's not my mother language.

zePencil Pirate said...

I don't like it when the government interferes with how businesses run themselves, whether it's for good or ill. It seems nothing good ever comes of it in the long term.
I think, as a friend of mine put it, that all the baby-boomers need to die off, first. xD Then more people will be accepting of alternative-looking people. Because no matter how hard you try, you can't regulate common sense. Just my thoughts, but I do get tired of having to keep my hair a boring shade of natural. It means we just have to be that much more awesome and work that much harder to get where we want to be in life, I guess.

akumaxkami said...

Sadly, I don't think I've encountered anyone here in my college town who is or was really all that alternative. People are pretty...normal here.

Anonymous said...

My cousin was Goth back in the 80s, I think. Also a friend of mine, his mum was Goth as well.

The HouseCat said...

I had a social worker with neon pink hair once... I was staying at a boarding school far from home and my elderly aunt (well, she's not an actual aunt, but it's a lot easier to refer to her as "aunt"!) was supervising me as she was local to the school and my aunt freaked out that this woman was a bad example to vulnerable youths, but I thought she was fabulous, and I think she was a good influence, but maybe I'm biased.

Nightwind said...

People with tattoos are not hard to find around here, but just because they sport body art doesn't make them Goth. I have worked with some of these folks but mostly they were involved with the biker scene.

Several years ago I was very surprised to learn that our local natural food cooperative had mandated that its staff get rid of all their body piercings; or at least the jewelry. This coop had long been known as a bastion of free thought but they were actively trying to attract more mainstream customers; hence the mandate, which sparked a lot of protest.

When I go out I generally wear a dragon/pentagram necklace, although I do have others. To this day, I'm careful where I wear it out of fear that I might run into the wrong person who could get me thrown out of my living situation. Religious fundamentalism is very strong here and a person has to be careful.

Also, I used to drive a bus for the local school system, but again, I toned it down on the job somewhat--not completely, but somewhat, because there are those who would get me fired if my style of dress offended their religious sensibilities.

The Cemetery Dreamer said...

My personal tutor during my undergrad degree was affectionately known to most of the geology department as 'Mr Black' because of his Black hair, beard, clothes and especially his black Hard Hat.

Whilst sulking about the yellow one I was expected to buy and wear (the previous year had got red ones and it seemed very unfair!)I asked him where he got it.

He replied, 'I've had it about 20 years, they don't make them anymore. I checked because I wanted a spare. I was goth the first time round don't you know! As for the yellow I recommend spray paint.'

He was a simply fantastic tutor. He took us out for dinner on field trips, paid for pizza and beer once a year for all his students, and lived up to all my expectations about excentric academics; like using the type specimen for a species of ammonite he discovered as a door stop, simply so he could tell the museum he 'still needed it'!

Hopefully when I'm a crazy professor, my students will think I'm half as cool.

CatacombKitten said...

My Dutch teacher in high school once started talking about goth during class. My initial "Oh no, here we go again" thoughts quickly changed when he started enthusing about Goethes Erben and how he had seen them at Gothic Festival. I was very pleasantly surprised. He also started singing 'Bela Lugosi's Dead' to me once. He wasn't really a goth, he just knew quite a lot about the subculture. Pretty much my favourite teacher ever.

OddGhoulOut said...

An English teacher in High School had quite extensive knowledge of goth music. I remember eating lunch in his classroom so we could talk about concerts and bands. He wanted to make me a mix CD, but I graduated before he had the chance. :/ I also had a teacher that had recently developed an interest in steampunk, so I showed him Abney Park. You never know who you might meet with similar or other alternative interests. :)

Anonymous said...

You know, I was just showing off my fresh ink around the office this morning. My boss and I were comparing how much our tatts hurt. The trucking industry is pretty friendly to modified types.

Katherine :) said...

My Spanish teacher was a goth :P Lol so fun talking about bands and all that :P

InfiltratorN7 said...

Tattoos do seem to slowly be becoming more accepted in the mainstream. It’s no longer the preserve or sailors, bikers, ex-cons, goths and metalheads. Sometimes it feels like everyone has them. I can sit on a bus and half the people getting on who otherwise look MOR have tattoos. My sister tells me that there is a debate about them going on in nursing as loads of nurses (herself included) have tattoos and don’t see why they should have to cover them up (if they’re not offensive) when they’re so much more common now and half their patients have them (and don’t have to cover them up). Having body mods does not make you less of a professional. Professionalism to me isn’t about wearing a suit and tie it’s about how well you do your job.

Tash said...

Ah I'm an art student who works on the checkout at tesco on saturday afternoons, and just last week I was told by my manager that my new lip ring is "highly against the rules" - not one to be walked all over, i questioned someone else being allowed a nose ring - oh but apparently that's all right, because "some people have them for religion reasons" ... enough said.

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