It isn’t out of the ordinary for people to express themselves through fashion and different body modifications such as piercings and tattoos. However, in the workplace, some people may feel the need to suppress their individuality to suit a traditional and professional appearance. Limiting creativity in a workplace for those who wish to express themselves through their appearance may lead to an uncomfortable working situation. On the other hand, employers may feel uncomfortable addressing their employees when they feel they are inappropriately dressed. As a communications major, I hope to go into the field of Human Resources where I can apply knowledge about bodylore to help promote a happier and professional workplace.

In my personal experience, tattoos have been a huge part in expressing my individuality. However, I have refrained from larger tattoos in visible areas of my body because I have always been told by my family and teachers that I would not be able to get a job if I looked like that. I currently work at the Office of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity on campus where I, along with several other coworkers host tattoos in various shapes and sizes. Tattoos are a personal preference, some people may not like the tattoos that I have for themselves and I feel similarly with other peoples tattoos. Being able to understand and respect someone’s personal preference in expressing themselves is crucial to a healthy workplace. If someone were to display an offensive tattoo, this would be a different story. The organization STAPAW (Supporting Tattoos and Piercing At Work) has been refuting the arguments against why tattoos shouldnt be allowed at work and provide several statistics on working people who are tattooed. They state that 42% of American adults have tattoos and tattoo popularity has increased by 13% since 2007. This being said, companies who ban their employees from displaying tattoos can be viewed as outdated.

Being able to support tattooed people in the workplace is just one example of how I can promote body positivity as a Human Resource worker. It is human nature to use our own prejudices to form judgements based on a person’s appearance. Bodylore may not be taken seriously in my field because people tend to dismiss body positivity as unnecessary in a workplace. There are many fitness programs that companies take part of in the United States that weigh their employees and offer incentives to those who can lose weight, just like Season 5 Episode 1 of The Office. There are more adapted programs to promote healthy lifestyles while also embracing body positivity such as “Endangered Bodies” and “Adios Barbie.” think everyone has a different perspective on health and targeting someone based on their appearance in the workplace is extremely unprofessional and demeaning. 

Furthermore, I believe that some people may condemn discussion of the body as taboo. I, however, believe it is important. In the work environment, self confidence can be seen through the quality of one’s work and the initiative that an employee may show. Overwhelming thoughts of not reaching the physical standards of an employer can lead to anxiety and loss of self confidence. I hope to pursue a career in the field of human resources to boost my coworkers confidence and promote a body positive workplace. 

Bodylore and Human Resources

Caitlin Fitzpatrick is a junior at Old Dominion University. She is majoring in Lifespan Communications and hopes to go into Human Resources. You can usually find her working as the receptionist in the Office of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity or feeding the street cats near campus. She is a big fan of coffee, tattoos, and true crime documentaries.