Life is all about change. Everything changes – people, places, and situations. With all the changes taking place every day, it’s hard to find anything to hold on to. But there is one thing in life that, no matter what changes, you keep with you. And that thing is your body.
People all over the world have felt the need to personalise their bodies, but doing so often comes with a price. Employers expect you to have no tattoos, wild hair colours or piercings, which are considered outside “the norm”. When applying for jobs, people who have any sorts of body modifications can be set at a disadvantage.
Despite this, many people have remained undeterred and have still chosen to express their true selves on their skin. SUBCULTURED talks to Georgie Elliott, a student at Surrey who is also a singer/songwriter, about her experience of having body modifications such as tattoos and piercings.
To start off with, what body modifications do you have, and when did you get them done?
I have my ears, nostril and septum pierced. I had my ears done when I was 16, my nostril when I was 17, and my septum around September 2014. I have ombre and dip-dyed hair (currently blonde into red, might be changing it soon!) which I’ve had since about 2013, the colours have changed a fair few times since then though. My tattoos are my wrists, done when I was 17 (in 2013), my forearm was done a year later, and my thigh was done last summer.
Why did you want to get each one, and what are the meanings behind them?
I wanted my piercings because I thought they looked cool and suited me, and I’d always been into that style. Originally I didn’t like septum piercings but then one day I was bored and tried a fake one and loved it so I decided why not! Hair again for the same reason, I thought it’d look cool and I was bored of my hair so I wanted a change that was different. The tattoos all have a meaning: my wrists are of lyrics from a band I love and a song that’s always helped me feel better when sad. My forearm is because I’ve always had a dream catcher in my room growing up and I’ve always loved them, and the lyrics ‘let your demons go’ are just ones I find inspirational. My thigh is because music is my passion and always has been, especially singing (hence the microphone) and it’s been a big part of my life so it’s now a big part of my body mod.
Were you met with any opposition before getting them done?
I had opposition from my mum and step-mum because in Chinese culture, tattoos and piercings aren’t seen as what ‘good’ children do, especially girls, so they were met with a lot of disapproval. Also, some people said it’ll affect my chance of getting a job but it didn’t stop me.
Have the modifications increased your confidence? In what way?
They’ve upped my confidence a lot because I feel like I’m more attractive with them, and because of that it makes me feel better about myself. My tattoos especially make me more confident about my body because I’ve always had body image issues, so covering myself with ink helps me to like my body more. Like for example I used to hate my legs, but now that I have a thigh tattoo I love wearing shorts and skirts to show it off.
What would you like to do in the future as a career? Are you worried about future employers rejecting you because of your modifications?
In the future I’d ideally like to be a singer/songwriter professionally, travelling the world and all that. But if not then I’d like to work in either the sound or game industry, preferably on character design or editing or sound tracking. Anything that’s in the entertainment industry I’d be happy with!
Do you think some careers (e.g in the media, etc.) are more accepting of body modifications? Is this something that worries you?
I don’t really like to think that my mods will affect me too much in the future because they’re so common in our generation now, and most of mine can be easily hidden if need be (piercings can be taken out now due to the length of time I’ve had them). Some careers don’t mind as much as others, I know that for example actors aren’t really meant to have tattoos. I think the music industry and media industry don’t care as much as others, but then again if they’re able to be hidden I don’t see there being as much discrimination as there once was, which is really nice.
Do you think there’s anything that can be done to reduce employer discrimination against body modifications?
In terms of reducing discrimination I think it’s just a matter of time. Someone’s body modifications don’t affect their ability to work or their skills. I understand in some jobs it doesn’t look professional but I think in time people are slowly learning to be less judgemental. I think it would be good to try and stress the message more in order to educate people but it’s hard to change people’s minds!
Here are some pictures of Georgie’s amazing tattoos, all from her Instagram page. Comment your opinion below on whether employers should be more accepting of body modifications!
Interview by Jess Madanayake, photos borrowed from Georgie Elliott’s Instagram