Having dyed hair and tattoos is not unprofessional

Zaynab Kouatli, Opinion Editor

I am currently typing this with Splat’s Blue Envy dye soaking in my hair. Next month I will put my hair through another round of bleach and try green for the first time. This might come to a shock for a lot of you but having dyed hair does not reflect my ability to be professional in the workplace.

Companies like Hobby lobby and Chick-Fil-A are extremely strict on employees not being able to have colored hair, piercings, or visible tattoos. The Chick-Fil-A team member appearance pamphlet states, “Hair coloring is permissible, but only naturally occurring hair colors are allowed. No eccentric styles are permitted. Body modification, including tattoos visible to guests, are not acceptable.”

This concept that people who do not conform to the ideas of natural beauty are less desired in professional fields is an outdated policy that should not apply in the modern age. These ideas contribute to the binary and as someone who does not fit in that binary, I feel as if my capability for a position should not be judged by appearance.

Having colored hair is a form of self-expression that fosters creativity for many people. Having dyed hair and tattoos does not mean that your work is bound to be worse than your colleagues; it does not hinder your performance in any capacity. Yet, some still hold back, arguing they want a “professional look,” but what does that even look like.

What defines professionalism is changing. Not long ago, restricting suits and loafers were an expectation in the workplace. However, today few jobs follow that dress code, and most companies are appearing more casual. In a 2019 survey conducted by Accountemps, found that more than 90% of employers believe that the workforce is more relaxed that it was a decade ago. More than one-third of employers believe tattoos and unnatural hair colors are acceptable.

The Indiana University Health system, a medical unit that includes 16 hospitals, announced that is has removed its former 50-page dress code. Employees are now allowed to have visible tattoos, have unnatural hair colors, choose their own sock colors, and wear sports logos. Michelle Janney, chief nurse executive told The Star Press, “We knew that many of our caregivers had tattoos that they were hiding and that just didn’t feel genuine to us. Actually, what we are saying is use good judgment and we trust you.”

The IU health employees were very excited about the change of policy. One nurse dyed her hair pink for breast cancer awareness month. Another nurse was allowed to switch to a desired department since in the past was not be allowed to reveal her tattoos.

Social norms over the years have evolved and changed to be a more inclusive and positive environments; individuals with piercings, dyed hair, or tattoos should be included in this change. Professionalism is not based on hair color, it is based on your competence or skill in any desired area, it is about how you conduct yourself and treat others around you.

Treating people with professionalism is far more important than the notion of what professionalism looks like. A suit is not what fills out the proper paperwork or organize efficiently. It is the person who completes the work, not the suit, hair color, or tattoo.