Sunday, January 21, 2007

Where do I draw the line?

I have two job interviews this week. One seems promising; the other less so. I should be excited -- and I was, but there's a catch. A silver one.

I reluctantly drove to my tattoo and piercing parlour today to have a clear glass eyebrow barbell fitted. That way, I can keep the hole open without jeopardizing the interview, on the offhand chance that anyone in nonprofit land still balks at the sight of metal in skin. Sounds perfect, right?


I fucking hate it.

In addition to being mind-numbingly ugly, like I'm some kind of land fish dragging around a small memento of my last encounter with a fisherman, it also draws lots of attention to the slight irritation around the piercing itself. Skin, understandably, isn't keen on being rubbed, and it's in constant contact with my barbell. So it's red. Usually, this isn't a problem. Now? Now it looks like I have MRSA.

The aesthetic ugliness aside, my real problem is something I didn't anticipate feeling: a severe sense of loathing and resentment that my potential for a job might be gauged not upon my qualifications, enthusiasm, potential or experience, but upon a millimeter thick piece of metal that spends half its time lurking behind my fringe. You know something? I can do these jobs. I am talented enough, hard-working enough -- I'll be the last one at the office if that's what it takes. But this little piercing here? It's part of me. You may not get that, but it is. It means a lot to me. I wore it through hell and back this past year, and I've transitioned from viewing it as an interesting accoutrement to a vital portion of who I am and what I stand for every damn day.

Tattoos, piercings, hair color, unusual for ya, people: they don't affect job performance. My brain won't implode because I have a piercing; in fact, my academic performance has increased since its arrival. But cramming us all into the same neutral spaces and stifling any hint of personal expression does hurt the workplace. We are who we are. You may not have a single piercing, or you may be tattooed from elbows to knees. It doesn't matter to me, as long as you can file my taxes/tinker with my car/fix my aching back. I will wear a suit, even though I dislike them. I'll put on makeup, file my nails, maybe even consider heels. This? This is too far.

I know there are people out there who don't understand why it matters, and that's fine -- but it does. Lord knows I wish it didn't, but I've been sitting in front of the bathroom mirror for much of the last couple days trying to work up the nerve to take it out...and I Can't Do It.

So. It would appear that we are at an impasse, my little glass imposter and I. And here we sit, in a long detente with no resolution in sight. It's just a stupid hunk of metal, but it matters.

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