February 21, 2024

What makes someone professional?

What makes someone professional? The Cambridge Dictionary defines professional as “relating to work that needs special training or education” or “having the qualities that are connected with trained and skilled people, such as effectiveness, skill, organization and seriousness of manner.”

When talking about professional clothing, reference is usually made to modest but dressy outfits, the formality depending on the profession. While darker colors used to be seen as professional wear, brighter colors are becoming more accepted.

Someone could follow all these rules and still be considered unprofessional with just a glance. Why is that? They have something that might be deemed “unnatural.” This could be a nose piercing, a tattoo sleeve or bright pink hair.

Any piercings outside of a single-ear piercing might be deemed trashy or lower class, which connects to the history of piercings. For a large part of modern history, piercings were utilized by different tribes, used superstitiously to ward off evil. Ear piercings only came into fashion in western cultures at the beginning of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, as she had her ears pierced as a way to display more of the royal jewels. Any piercings outside of the single-ear piercing were primarily used by those of minority cultures or underground subcultures for much of the last 100 years. It is only in the 2000s that people have begun to slowly accept this change.

Tattoo, in more recent history associated with crime and gangs, have been a significant part of human life for thousands of years. The earliest found mummy with tattoos, the iceman discovered in northern Italy, is dated to be over 5,000 years old. Tattoos have been used throughout the years for a number of reasons. Some of the iceman’s tattoos were believed to be used to alleviate pain, almost an ancient form of acupuncture. Other ancient tattoos were used as status symbols, to show a people’s history or to declare love for someone. Now people get tattoos for all sorts of reasons. Some are in memory of a loved one, others for their newborn children, while still others simply because they like how it looks.

Dyeing hair has also been around for centuries. Natural colorants such as henna, plant and animal products and sometimes even lead were used to dye hair. Some people wanted to get rid of gray hair to appear more youthful. Others wanted to look more attractive, dying their hair red (Greece) or blonde (Rome) according to the fashion trend of the time. Only in the last few decades have people started to dye their hair unnatural colors.

One complaint people have about these body modifications is that they are unnatural. If that is the argument, then people will have to get mad about a lot of other things, too. Hair naturally sheds itself from our body. Therefore, cutting your hair or shaving is unnatural. We are not formed in the womb with a full outfit on. Therefore, being clothed is unnatural and therefore not professional. Instead, we should all be working in our birthday suits.

Others may complain that they simply don’t find it attractive. Luckily, people will tailor their looks to what they themselves like, not for others. Everyone has different preferences when it comes to looks, and quite a few people find tattoos and the like attractive.

If professionality were solely based on tattoos, piercings and hair, a lot of hardworking people would be out of jobs, myself included.

If anything, people who have these enhancements should be able to put this on their resume as a positive. Anyone who has a tattoo knows how to endure numbing pain for hours at a time know how to endure unpleasant situations. Anyone who has sat in the chair of a hairdresser waiting hours to have the hair color of their choice knows how to be patient in an exciting occurrence.

In the end, how one looks should not impact their hireability. A person who is happy and proud of their appearance, no matter how colorful or alternative, will likely be more confident in their daily life.

Erin Henze

Originally from Wisconsin, Erin is a recent graduate from UW-Stevens Point. Outside of writing, she loves to read and travel.