But do you think they'll REALLY fire me for an eyebrow ring?
March 4, 2007 8:10 AM   Subscribe

As has been pointed out, although I am a lawyer working in finance I don't look/act/talk/fit the part and my entire personality and sense of self strains and suffocates under the pressures of trying to fit in and the sacrifices it requires on various levels as such. Perhaps as a result of acting out under such strains and their increasing demands for me to pretend to be someone I'm not, I just got a facial piercing.

It's not a bigdeal, just an eyebrow ring but I love it. While I understand the hive may feel that keeping it is arguably not a big deal in the "scheme of things," keeping this piercing is symbolic to me or somehow very important. I've read the previous questions on whether a lip piercing is acceptable for a legal internship, but my question differs. You see, I know that my eyebrow piercing won't be acceptable because after about a year of employment with this firm I was politely requested to remove the nose piercing I had during my interview and hiring process. For 5 years it has irked me, bothered me and depressed me that little parts of myself (including, but not limited to piercings and tats) are being hidden, sublimated and desiccated by The Man. Law/finance/etc. was just not the right career path for me, because I think it's just as ridiculous now to judge people based on whether their hair is fuschia or their nose is pierced than I did in college, and 7 years in this environment has only made me chafe more.

Notwithstanding that I work for The Man in finance/law/insurance, I'm in NYC where things are generally a little less conservative, and my employer is really a good guy (doesn't mind when I listen to Lamb of God or Gwar at work, allows my funky weird dyed-black haircut and knows I am not a run of the mill standard conventional normal type personality). Having said that, I do occassionally see clients (call it 1x per month), and just got a call for a client meeting on Monday afternoon. I'm a pretty critical employee, but I do more in-house, compliance, contract negotiation work with less face to face marketing and meetings.

So, my questions are firstly whether anyone has an opinion on whether the trick suggested in other threads (and used by me for a time after the removal of the formal nose ring) with fishing wire could ever fucntion on a -day-old piercing (most comments were prefaced by "if it's not a really new piercing...) or whether there are other tricks available for newer piercings. I'm also curious as to whether anyone has some ideas that could bolster my attempt to use my bangs and perhaps distracting lip make up to hide/draw attention away from the piercing at least until a substitute can be used. Another idea I've had would be to acknowlege the eyebrow piercing is not doable but maybe just get my tongue done instead, or a few more tattoos, so I was wondering if people really thought most people don't notice a tongue piercing. Maybe I can just a bandaid over my eyebrow for the meeting?
posted by bunnycup to Work & Money (37 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Wearing a band-aid over your piercing will make you look like Les Nessman from WKRP in Cincinnati, not a legal expert.

Of course it's ridiculous to judge someone based on some hair dye. I'd disagree that simply because you aren't a law firm drone, that "Law/Finance/ect. was just not the right career path" for you. And yet you are willingly subjecting yourself to a particular narrow career path that frowns upon individuality. Why?

Perhaps you should concentrate on a different branch of law? Your particular branch doesn't seem to be a good fit for you, particularly when you refer to your potential employers as "The Man." I'm sure there are areas you'd fit in well. Just from the perspective of a non-lawyer.
posted by waitingtoderail at 8:29 AM on March 4, 2007

Take a deep breath. Another. Another. Okay. The fishing-line thing might work, but it's a pretty bad idea. What's even more distracting than an eyebrow piercing? The infected hole where an eyebrow piercing used to be. There really aren't any tricks available for new piercings--at least, there aren't any consistently effective ones. A bandaid is neither less distracting nor conducive to healing. If I were you, I'd just take it out (or politely ask the piercer to take it out)--as an NYC finance lawyer, you can easily afford to get it re-done later.

I'll leave the hairstyling and lip-distracting questions to more qualified respondents.

As for the Man cramping your style, well, suck it up or find a new job. It sounds to me like you got this eyebrow piercing knowing full well that it's not acceptable at your current position. What do lawyers call that, malice aforethought? I doubt you'd get fired over something like that, but it certainly doesn't reflect well on you, either. If you're not into the job, or you feel like you can't perform the job duties (one of which, apparently, is not-wearing-facial-piercings-at-work), resign. Not being a run-of-the-mill standard conventional normal type personality is not an excuse for intentionally fucking up at work.
posted by box at 8:43 AM on March 4, 2007

You've got it, wear it with pride. Most people I know, no matter how fuddy-duddy, recognize that someone who's dressed appropriately (in your case, expensively) for their role but has other 'weird' things that don't go -- my funky argyle socks with jeans and a arfully sloppy and stylish buttondown shirt, your hair and eyebrow piercing -- will be a little 'above the crowd' as far as the creativity and thoroughness of their solutions go.

And I work for a state governmental agency in rural Texas, so I don't think you can get more fuddy-duddy than some of the people I know at my job.

BTW: You do realize that by being a finance lawyer in NYC, you ARE "the man"? If you truly hate "the man" and aren't just having a mid-life crisis, you might want to find a way to feel that you don't -need- to fit in at work, or you might want to re-evaluate your career and shift it into an area that makes you happier.
posted by SpecialK at 8:44 AM on March 4, 2007

The way I see it, you have 2 choices here,

1.) Quit. Since you say (and are feeling) that the job isnt a right fit for you, then find something else. Sure, you live in NYC and it'll probably suck going from a very well paying job to a pisshole job... but the satisfaction you get from being somewhere you enjoy and doing something you enjoy is WAY worth it.

2.) (as others have said) suck it up and wear the eybrow piercing with pride. Shatter their cliche allusions by being the best damn finance law intern that you can be, while still at the same time being your own individual style. Nobody becomes famous for looking and acting like everyone else in "the hive".
posted by jmnugent at 8:52 AM on March 4, 2007

As far as substituting the piercing goes, I've found that my tongue piercing is pretty easy to hide. They sell barbells with clear plastic half-balls on the top and bottom which sit pretty close to the tongue. Only once did I have someone notice it when I was wearing one of those, and it was a kid when I opened my mouth to laugh. I've never had an adult comment on it.

That being said, I got my tongue pierced in college because it seemed like the perfect rebellion for a soon-to-be speech therapist. I did it over spring break and I'm so glad because I couldn't talk normally for a week. Even after ten days I still lisped. If you really want to hide it, take some vacation days so nobody notices your new speech impediment.

Good luck!
posted by christinetheslp at 9:02 AM on March 4, 2007

Sounds to me like the job is the problem, not your looks. More to the point, the problem is with the firm. I'd wager good money that there's another law firm in your area who will appreciate your skills and expertise, and not give a damn how many body parts you have pierced.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:08 AM on March 4, 2007

Beyond the feintly trivial cosmetic and personal style concerns, the real dilemma is this one:

You do realize that by being a finance lawyer in NYC, you ARE "the man"? If you truly hate "the man" and aren't just having a mid-life crisis, you might want to find a way to feel that you don't -need- to fit in at work, or you might want to re-evaluate your career and shift it into an area that makes you happier.

This is a great answer.

Personally, I struggled mightily with this very same thing from my late 20s to my mid 30s. Ultimately, I realized my happiness wasn't worth sacrificing for "the big bucks" and picked a career (well, started my own company) where I could make a reasonable living doing my own thing and not feel such unrelenting pressure to conform and spend 12+ hours a day with people I would just as glady strangle as work with.
posted by psmealey at 9:15 AM on March 4, 2007

Response by poster: I'm appreciating the answers so far, especially the range of them (from "piercings are stupid, and so, by implication, are you", to "be yourself, girl" and in between). Keep 'em coming, it's really helping me mull this decision over. Thanks all!
posted by bunnycup at 9:21 AM on March 4, 2007

Are you saying the nose ring incident was 5 years ago? A good employee of 6 years standing can get away with things that a new hire can't. And attitudes may have changed in 5 years, anyway. I would just go in and act natural "Look at my new ring!" (Even if it is more recent, they didn't either not refuse to hire you or throw you out without a chance of making a response, did they?)

If someone says the eyebrow ring is not suitable for your work, then try to negotiate a deal that you are happy with. (I don't know -- in a couple of months will you be able to take it in and out for important meetings?)

And give some thought to getting the different parts of your life more in tune. Many people are at ease with working in ill-fitting jobs because they rationalize it as what has to be done to earn the money for doing "real me" things. (I laugh at the thought that people who meet me in my business clothes think they know the real me.)
posted by Idcoytco at 9:25 AM on March 4, 2007

if takes "a few more piercings or tattoos" to feel like an individual, you better get some help

and PS you chose the wrong career to be one of those "have to tell everyone I listen to gwar and am an individual" people

lawyers are meant to say and do just the things that help their clients, and otherwise be pretty neutral

it's not so much a damn the man thing as it is a "this is not about you" thing, i don't think it can be a "look at how individual she is!!!! how wonderful!!!" kind of thing if you're meeting a client or representing a client. it has to be about them and you have to sort of disappear for the most part, except for those important things you say and DO for the client

do you secretly want to be booted from your job, so you can work in a coffee shop or record store (where REAL individuals can flourish)?

FYI, there are also accomplishments that can make someone more of an individual, to themselves and to their peers - that's where it's really at
posted by Salvatorparadise at 9:25 AM on March 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

do you secretly want to be booted from your job, so you can work in a coffee shop or record store (where REAL individuals can flourish)?

My thought too, though I wouldn't have snarked about the coffee shop. But seriously, look: you've been told (however tactfully) that facial peircings are not OK where you work. Then, knowing full well that it would be "unacceptable," you ran out and got an eyebrow ring. This is not the behavior of someone who is OK with her job and wants to stick around for a long time.

There are all kinds of alternatives for someone with law and finance qualifications in NYC, you don't have to stick with this firm that is apparently stifling your individuality. You could work at a nonprofit for one thing (and move out to a cheap place in the boroughs - sigh). Or, maybe get in touch with your law school's career services office and get a list of solo practicioners in the area with your approximate experience level - I'll bet there would be a broad base of clients like artists & musicians who would feel it was affirmatively beneficial to have someone not so "corporate" representing them. You just have to find your audience.

How you handle this particular client meeting is of little importance; the point is you have to leave this job. You could yank the eyebrow ring for the (short) remainder of your time at the firm, and get it re-pierced as a celebration of your new freedom when you quit. Or, you can just leave it in and damn the torpedoes, since you've already decided to leave.
posted by rkent at 9:38 AM on March 4, 2007

Banker, have worked for some of the top firms on the planet, another misfit but I - and you - are not alone. I've got lots of friends who are also in bankking, very much like myself and we've got a private expression - shamelessly stolen from Frank Zappa - We're only in it for the money" .

So here's how I see it: if you're good enough to get into that firm, your boss and peers are gonna look at results far more than personal idiosyncrasies. Just deliver, and they won't care. Keep the client happy, and they won't care.

An eyebrow piercing? No problem. Start wearing dresses to client meetings or get a facial tattoo, and there may be a problem. Still depends upon how much value you deliver.

Myself? Well, I've got both arms covered in 'tats. When I do a presentation you can sometimes see them peeking out at the wrist. Occasionally, when I'm reviewing documents with a client or colleague you can see the 'tats as well.

Folks naturally are curious. But also professional. We all keep to the task at hand, the goal we've got to achieve. Of course, sometimes at the pub I'll get asked about the 'tats but I never acknowledge them, I change the subject.

My private life is not germane to my professional life. I keep the two distinct, separate to the point of carrying two mobiles, two PDAs and two notebook computers, one for work and one for me. I don't socialise much with banking people. I know that's caused me certain political problems but I don't care. I deliver and besides, I've got bigger plans. For me banking is just a means to an end.

While I don't totally detest what I do at the moment, I enjoy my part time job teaching finance to Masters degree students far, far better. Banking? I'm only in it for the money.

So while I've danced around your questions somewhat I suggest you look carefully at your motivations and make a choice. I long ago decided I'd make certain concessions in my life - wear a suit to work, ditch the jeans & TShirt, cut my hair - in favour of supranormal earnings and I've never looked back.

To be totally honest, I don't particularly care for most of the people I work with. Its not that they are evil, it's just I consider our value systems incompatible. I only need and own one flat. I don't consume much. I walk to work. I prefer to purchase experiences rather than objects. I live very cheaply. I save about 90% of each paycheque. In many ways, I don't feel a particular need to keep up.

I ain't hanging around with these people all my life. I'm intent on working until the thrill is gone, and getting paid top coin while doing so.
posted by Mutant at 9:51 AM on March 4, 2007 [4 favorites]

bunnycup, you sound really unhappy. for the short term, ask your piercer for a retainer--they are clear plastic or silicone posts that hold your piercing open much less noticeably.

i too like the option to transition between worlds. i did pierce my nose last year, and i have several holes w/captive bead rings in my ears, but most of my other body art is hideable under a business suit. that was the deal i made with myself, because i decided i didn't want to limit myself.

i do think that if this piercing is fundamental to your identity, you are missing something in your life--some kind of recognition for your creativity or individuality. you might seek out a community that embraces your wilder side (in new york, that shouldn't be hard) and recognize that you are not the only hardcore soul working for the man. and don't underestimate the value of a therapist. if this job is as important to you as this piercing, you may never resolve this conflict, but they can help you develop coping strategies.

fwiw, the way i justified working for a corporation was this: they were subsidizing my creative pursuits. ultimately, though i found myself happier working for myself. i don't know your industry at all, but if there is any way you can freelance, or otherwise apply your knowledge to a more accepting business, you will be happier. one of the most important things i have learned is that not liking your job SUCKS. it can ruin your life. it is not 8 hours a day that you can compartmentalize and ignore. if you have any sensitivity or intelligence at all, you will end up thinking about it, worrying about it, agonizing about it. i think if you found a job you were happier with--even if you are not making as much--you will find your discomfort (and your need to express it) to be greatly diminished.
posted by thinkingwoman at 9:53 AM on March 4, 2007

I really wanted an eyebrow piercing a few weeks ago, but also worried about how it would appear to the people in the firm where I work (IANAL, though). I ended up getting an industrial piercing, which is easily hidden when I leave my hair in front of my ears but still satisfies the I AM A UNIQUE SNOWFLAKE itch.

(As for saving your eyebrow, you might want to check at BMEzine.com. I think they make glass retainers that are less obvious, but I don't know if you can use them on fresh piercings.)
posted by Lucinda at 9:53 AM on March 4, 2007

Wear the piercing. Be yourself. Let your work speak for itself. If they off you, there are plenty of small B/D's, Hedge Funds and trading operations that need compliance/legal and regulatory help. Compliance Officers or in-house legal at these smaller NYC firms are in great demand. They will not care what you look like or what piercing you wear. They only care about getting a good answer now.

I would bet your boss at current firm will make a compromise with you rather than lose you. He will ask that you just not wear the piercings to client meetings. You can wear them all you want at the office.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:04 AM on March 4, 2007

nyc lawyer: "It's my little way of sticking it to the man".

AskMe: "But sir, you are the man?"

nyc lawyer: "Yes, I know".

AskMe: "wouldn't that be sticking it to yourself?"

nyc lawyer: "Maybe".

I do not think there is any safe way to replace a fresh piercing with monofilament or whatever checking BME is not a bad idea; if they really come down on you for this, see if a small button-bandaid will work. If not, I think that your idea of more tattoos is good. The range of expression in a tattoo is far wider, and if you pick a good spot, you can choose to show it even if you're wearing good clothes (i.e. just under dress-shirt collar line, or on the tops of your arms... covered by long sleeves but showing in short, etc).
posted by exlotuseater at 10:09 AM on March 4, 2007

if it took them an entire year to ask you to remove your nose piercing, it doesn't sound like you have to make a decision this weekend.
agree with the comment that as a ny finance lawyer, you are the man. i don't think this would be an issue if you were a public defender.
not everyone is suited to practicing law their entire lives. i was admitted to the california bar in 1980, and in 1995 i reached the point where i couldn't stand doing it for another minute, so i went on inactive status. one of the best decisions i ever made, i look back and wonder how i managed to go 15 years. after that i started several dotcoms with a friend/former client. start your own business! maybe you can offer resources/support to compliance lawyers all over the country, heck, maybe you can offer pornography tailored to lawyers, i'd look at your site at least once to check it out.
posted by bruce at 10:26 AM on March 4, 2007

You've got lots of good responses here. So what is it you really want? Are you taking action or are you acting out?

Taking action would be finding another job or career that's more in line with who you are. Or wearing the piercing while kicking ass professionally, and deciding that if they don't like it you'll go try to work somewhere else. Or taking the peircing out and conforming while you're at work, because you know what you want from work, while you cultivate the center of your life elsewhere (as Mutant describes well).

Acting out would be getting a piercing to prove to yourself that you're not really "the Man", even though you secretly know that you are. Or to avoid actually trying to communicate your real concerns to your boss. Or to dare everyone to clamp down on you, so you can finally have your justification that they really are "The Man" and you can leave in a righteous huff. Or maybe you take the peircing out, but then you sulk over it.

Once you know why you got the peircing in the first place, you'll immediately know what to do about it.
posted by fuzz at 10:28 AM on March 4, 2007

It's too early in the piercing to replace it with fishing wire.

You need to leave this job. You complain that it's sapping your individuality and you're working for the man--but you've been there for seven years. Employees have rights in jobs. But there is a certain point where the employers has the right to put their foot down and demand a certain level of professionalism in appearance from their employees. In turn, the employee has the right to quit.

It would be one thing if you wrote this post after they made you take your nose piercing out. But you've been working there for seven years. You know the rules of the game. You know what the consequences will be. At this point you either quit or you suck up and deal with their ban on facial piercings. If you get fired, know that it's not because they hate your individuality, but because they're looking for lawyers, guys who stand in the background behind their clients and take care of things, not sensitive ar-teests.

I have a nose ring and an eyebrow ring, as well as multiple cartilage piercings. These will affect my job prospects if I leave them in. That's how it goes--I'll take 'em out if I see a job I love that bans them. But I'm not going to get myself hired then put them back in and dare my employer to fire me.

You can try to get a clear retainer in there, though it will be more difficult to clean and thus take longer to heal.
posted by schroedinger at 10:37 AM on March 4, 2007

I have a different perspective, perhaps I am too tired and should not be posting.

Bunnycup, from reading your post I have the impression you are looking for something different that has nothing to do with the piercings, tats, etc.

At the core, the piercings, tats, particular music group is not a sign of 'individuality' but of a community that you identify with. You don't feel like you fit in with your coworkers but that may be because they are not part of your community. Your coworkers, by the way, may not be dressing conservatively because they love wearing suits, but to fit in with the image clients see - and the clients may walk through the office at any time.

Like a few others have suggested, if you truly envision expressing this side of yourself, you have the resources (education, job skills) to either find a new job or start your own business. I think owning your own business (working as an independent lawyer) may be a better fit for you. You could work for clients who do not care about the particular image or aggregate towards the image you are trying to project. You will never need to let the business place define your time, image, etc, and it may be time for you to make that leap.

The other comment (I may be off the wall on this comment, but just a thought) - I noticed you also seem unhappy in your current location (clicked on your profile) along with aspects of your job. Are you sure you are not trying to just - be fired and suddenly forced to make changes? If that is the case, again, you have the education, job skills, and in NYC surely you can find a job that is a better fit. What do you want next? New location? To learn new job skills? A community? Make that choice, and then take the actions to get there - but if you decide to get fired and lose your income, will you really have a choice then?

Good luck, I also dislike how people judge one another based on an image such as clothes, background, etc. - but this is part of society, so will you really change that be losing your job?
posted by Wolfster at 11:27 AM on March 4, 2007

If you really want to be an individual, an eyebrow piercing is a pretty lame way to show it. I think the issue is separate from your career -- wanting to be an individual, or expressing oneself uniquely are perfectly normal desires. Doing it in the exact same way as everybody else is going to be unfulfilling. Quitting a job you're apparently good at isn't going to help. I live in NYC, and I don't look twice at an eyebrow piercing, but I'm sure you've got much more interesting ways to distinguish yourself, like with your abilities or talent.

"keeping this piercing is symbolic to me or somehow very important" Is it possible you're just being stubborn or petulant? This sounds like something I would have said when I was fifteen.
posted by anildash at 11:27 AM on March 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

I can't imagine how this is pertinent to your job, so it is simply not legal for them to ask you to remove it. If you're asked by your boss, just say, I have very good personal reasons for wearing this. If you ask me to remove it, or fire me because of it, I'll sue. He'll think you're crazy. He won't like you. But, he will leave you alone. I know someone who was hired and then asked to shave and clean up for client meetings, he refused saying just what I said above. He was not fired. This is risky, but I tihnk it will work.
posted by xammerboy at 11:41 AM on March 4, 2007

I can't imagine how this is pertinent to your job, so it is simply not legal for them to ask you to remove it. If you're asked by your boss, just say, I have very good personal reasons for wearing this. If you ask me to remove it, or fire me because of it, I'll sue.

Awful answer, and dead wrong to boot. xammerboy, a quick refresher on at-will employment might be in order.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 11:55 AM on March 4, 2007

...do you secretly want to be booted from your job...
...This is not the behavior of someone who is OK with her job and wants to stick around for a long time....
"keeping this piercing is symbolic to me or somehow very important"

Sounds like part of you is ready to make a stand! And that another part is scared. How long will you let the terrified part push the other part of you into submission? Make your stand, do what you want, free that part of you that has decided now is it's time! Though do it politely, because your struggle is not with your coworkers themselves nor with "the man," it's internal. Then, see how far you can get.

To me the interesting question is-- what does that part of you really want? To sport piercings and tattoos, while doing the same old job? Or... something else?
posted by salvia at 12:14 PM on March 4, 2007

I hire (and, alas, fire) staff for a small broker-dealer in New York. I wouldn't fire a well-established professional for showing up with an eyebrow ring but I would certainly think that they were very unhappy, and very unhappy people are a risk to quit, or a risk to engage in some actively unacceptable behavior / underperformance.

But the bigger point is mutant's. Finance law in New York is a sweet gig. You can make a lot of money doing reasonably interesting work. If you're smart and save that money you can create a post-finance life with a heck of a lot more options and freedom than most people who spend their youth in full time countercultural endeavor. There's nothing in it that can crush you emotionally, and you certainly don't have to feel judged on account of your unseen tats and piercings.

I have no idea what accessories of an alternate cultural identity my people have, and I wouldn't care if I did. In fact, I might actually like it -- groupthink is the greatest threat to institutions, and it might be better to have some of my VPs prefer to spend their weekends working on their guitar riffs in Williamsburgh instead of working on their long irons at Chelsea Piers.
posted by MattD at 12:27 PM on March 4, 2007

one other thought: since you're in new york and you can afford it, why don't you call tiffany's and cartier, etc., and ask them if they have any stunning but tasteful eyebrow pieces to go with your recent fashion statement, lessee here, how about a platinum post with a half-carat pink or yellow diamond on one end and a big cabochon emerald on the other, something that says you've arrived but you're still a rebel. only downside i can think of, on the streets of new york sooner or later somebody gonna rip it right outta your eye socket.
posted by bruce at 1:01 PM on March 4, 2007

Right or wrong, I think we can begin from the presumption that it will negatively effect your professional success. No matter how shallow it is or whatever you want to call it, I think you know the effect of trying to look so unconvential is.

So this is really an easy, easy question:

Which do you value more: your career and success or your image?

If it's the former, then you need to just find other ways to define/express yourself that won't effect your career. If it's the latter, then run with it and find a new job/career.

But if you are looking for some answer about how we can prevent the inevitable reaction to what appears to be unconventional looks--when the primary purpose seems to be to make people have the reaction--then no one here is going to help you. You want to look in a way to tell everyone that you are different, a rebel or whatever it is that you trying to project through your looks. And you will get the reaction that inevitably follows. So it almost seems like you are getting what you want.
posted by dios at 1:04 PM on March 4, 2007

It could be that my answer is totally off. However, I did actually see someone I worked with do this, and it worked.
posted by xammerboy at 1:41 PM on March 4, 2007

No, fishing line will not work on a day-old piercing. There are retainers that are more subtle than a ring, but not invisible. And require the piercing to be healed.

If it's important to you, leave in the piercing. You know that this may get you fired for insubordination. Decide if that risk is worth it.
posted by desuetude at 1:52 PM on March 4, 2007

Okay, I'm 48 and probably already an old fart, but here is my opinion: Why not find ways to express your individuality that don't involve body modifications that will interfere with your professional appearance at work?

Life is compromise. I myself would love to dye my hair dark purple, etc. but since my hubby is a local Republican Party official, and since I have to go with him to rather conservative events, I don't. I am definitely an artsy-fartsy creative type but I just dress up to fit in to these things just like I'd don camoflage to blend in to do nature photography. It's all costuming, hon.

When at work, look like work, when not at work, look like you want. OTOH if this seems like too much of a compromise, I join those who say you might wanna find a different job.
posted by konolia at 2:00 PM on March 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

You're an adult and a professional. That comes with certain expectations and obligations. Part of your job requires that you meet face to face with clients as a representative of your firm. You are being paid to do this, not forced to. Your eyebrow ring is the modern day equivalent of long hair in the 60's, mohawks in the 70's etc. etc.

I'm in computer consultant and some of my co-workers would probably quit if the company forced us to wear ties. Personally, it wouldn't bother me in the least. And casual Fridays where we "get" to wear jeans is seen by some a some huge perk. I've managed to find slacks that are very comfortable and look good.

Visible tats, piercings, strange haircuts are a way of saying "I refuse to meet the standards of appearance (and by inference, behavior) expected of a "grown-up".

At least that's my opinion on the matter. My view is you have two choices. Either take out the piercing and "sell-out" hopefully learning to accept the place you've made for yourself in the world or look for some other work where you can keep your piercing.

I suspect that you would be much happier somewhere else, based on the fact that you got the piercing knowing that it wouldn't be accepted.
posted by MCTDavid at 3:16 PM on March 4, 2007

Response by poster: Hey, peeking in again on the responses the range is still great and thanks again for so many comments on both sides of the fence - even the obnoxious comments help me understand the judgmental attitude I might get from the numerous people out there who think everyone should look, feel, think, act and be the same (at least within their own definitions of the confines of "normal" looks, behavior and interests). There are some really insightful comments that go beyond the question asked to why I chose to do this and what it could mean about the kind of life I want to live, and these thoughts are enlightening. They have helped me frame some decisions I need to make for myself in the longer term. And the advice on the subjects I asked about (how I can hide or deemphasize this, if possible, while I take some more time to think about the deeper questions) will help me out right now.

I mentioned I felt that the piercing was "symbolic" to me because I do feel, as many people guessed, I'm at a crossroads. I've had trouble confronting that fact, and "acting out" with a piercing highlighted the internal tension. I know the question impacts many areas of my life (and other people too) and has a lot of consequences. I've been struggling with it - and showing the signs of that struggle by being judgmental, pissy and vitriolic towards others, for awhile now. Many of those who read deeper into my question nailed this and have helped me think about it more fluently.
posted by bunnycup at 3:16 PM on March 4, 2007

Bunnycup, I gently remind you to keep something in mind: These people around you, who look "normal?" They may not be. You don't know what's under their clothes or what they do when they get home from work. It's not always us vs them.

I reconcile some compromises on my outward appearence the same way I reconcile the fact that I don't say fuck in front of my mother. She wouldn't fall down in shock or disown me if she heard me use profanity, but hey, it's not demeaning my identity to talk to my mom differently than I do at last call at the bar.

You sound like you're putting yourself under a lot of pressure. Take the consequences as they come. All that stress and vitriol is going to give people a pass to be more judgemental than they would be otherwise.
posted by desuetude at 5:50 PM on March 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

i was in this same situation. had nostril rings and such at an interview. got hired, was excellent employee. a year later, they asked me to take everything out or i'd have to leave. i took everything out and cried about it for a good while. i lasted there about 6-8 months after that. i hated going into that job knowing that they had 'won' and that they had made me get rid of something that had been a part of myself for a long time. so i quit.

i suggest doing that. if an eyebrow ring is more important to your employer than the job that you do and the work that you complete, you don't need to work there.

but, if you decide to stay at that job, PLEASE do not use fishing line. get a QUARTZ retainer from a reputable piercer or online distributer. they are fine to use in new piercings, but you should have a piercer change it for you.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 7:10 AM on March 5, 2007

I was thinking about the question overnight, because it resonated with me. Lately, I have been having a lot of these existential moments where I look around and wonder how the hell did I get here, in this fancy office, with a beautiful house, and a beautiful wife. No really, I am just a kid who wants to smoke a lot of pot, play guitar, and get tattoos. This is absolutely about more than a piercing and you said yourself that it symbolizes something bigger.

You need to deal with that bigger thing. When I started dressing different at work and wearing my piercings, it just intensified the alienation I was feeling at work, the sense that I didn't belong. And the sad thing is, that it was a public statement to my coworkers that I was having this internal struggle. Ultimately, I realized that dressing the rock and roll lifestyle wasn't fixing the problem and was just making work less pleasant.

Ironically, once I realized this really wasn't the environment that suited my inner pot smoking guitar player things became easier. I began to treat work as work and not my life. If the job is really so unpleasant, there's nothing to lose by going out and getting a better job. Ultimately, I decided, for now, the job isn't so bad as far as jobs go and it has allowed me to buy a lot of nice guitars and tattoos and I spend much less time worrying about work when I come home. And one day, when the perfect job comes up, I'll quit.

A lot of my friends who are still living the rock and roll lifestyle are no happier than me. Yeah, it's easier for them to wear their facial piercings and stay up late at bars, but many of them have had trouble integrating all of this into a career such as mine. As a result of worrying about rent and not having professional choices, they sometimes have much less real freedom than me. I'm definitely not saying that selling out to the Man is better, it's just that it can be pretty complicated and this is the stuff midlife crises are made of.

Should you wear the eyebrow ring? I don't know. But I think it's likely to bring up a lot of more questions for you. Good luck.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:27 AM on March 5, 2007

Response by poster: Not to babysit this, but thanks again to everyone - there are a gazillion answers in here I could mark as best because the individual viewpoints, experiences and comments were in my mind all day. If anyone is wondering, I proudly wore the eyebrow ring all day without receiving a single look or comment askance, but I'm going to think hard for the long term about whether I want to pick THIS to be a battle I choose to fight when there are others that might be more important. It could be weeks and weeks before I decide what to do, but thanks again to those who put thought and consideration into your answers, it was honestly extremely helpful and deeply appreciated.
posted by bunnycup at 7:47 PM on March 5, 2007

Response by poster: Follow up per request.

Happy Ending: I had no problems whatsoever at work.

Following wearing the piercing to work for a couple weeks, I continued to receive ongoing invitations to participate in high-level meetings and plan seminars with major client insurance companies' Vice Presidents and senior litigation management. During those sessions, the only comment I received dealing with my appearance on any level was a compliment to my favorite shoes - some very classy Cole Haan kid brown round toe pumps (my pride and joy). More senior individuals in my office asked me to cover court appearances for them. I was invited into more new-client development opportunities.

Being the recipient of such respectful behavior in turn made ME re-evaluate some of my thoughts and opinions of my co-workers, which as helped me work on funneling more trust, teamwork and respect THEIR way as well. I've since married, will have a child in a few months, and am leaving NYC to go to a small, funky, artsy town near my hometown in Bucks County, PA, where my ever-cool work has permitted me to keep my NYC salary, work primarily from home (should be living in a reno'd 1880s farmhouse within a few weeks), commuting to NYC on an as-needed basis.

No, we're not hiring.
posted by bunnycup at 4:43 PM on September 23, 2007 [2 favorites]

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