Saturday, August 14, 2010

Dear Shopping Savage...

Dear Shopping Savage,

I am an education grad student with one year left before graduation. I went through an "emo" phase in undergrad and have a few tattoos in obvious places - my forearms, expressly. I've already let go of my "snake bite" facial piercings and ear gauges. My fear is that my past personal expression may not land me the job that I want. I looked into tattoo removal but its painful, costly and I don't want to get rid of them if I don't have to, which is why I'm writing to you. What's your sartorial take on this? What are my options in this situation - body make-up? long sleeves?


Ex-Emo Educator


Dear E-E. E.,

I believe it was Robert Frost who was once quoted as saying, "I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."

You can't allow your actions or persona as an adolescent to define who you are today. However, your fears are valid. Some potential employers may see you and the profession you chose as an oxymoron. But like Frost, those who choose to take "the road less traveled" are better for it. As a future educator, your perspective will be refreshing and inspiring to a generation that is on the cusp of revolutionizing the way we as a society look at gender, sexuality and even tattoos and piercings.

You, yourself, are apart of an age group that represents change and growth in our country. Our children need to see that change reflected in places other than television. They need to see that tattoos and the like can be associated with a career other than rapping, acting, athletes and/or soccer moms who've turned over a new leaf.

Now let me be clear: this does not mean I'm advocating for young adults to go out and get "tatted up". The lesson for them to learn is that tattoos are permanent and will follow you through your personal and profession lives, so choose the design - and the location - wisely.

Another lesson learned from this should be that your outward appearance does not, or rather, should not define who you are as a person. You want to be an educator and that's more important than upholding some stuffy, antiquated "appearance" guideline.

It sounds like you're going to make a great teacher one day, one that kids can learn life lessons and lesson plans from. So for interviewing purposes I would cover the tattoos by wearing a suit with a long-sleeved button down shirt. But either in the follow-up interview or a conversation thereafter, you should mention that you have these tattoos and - provided that they're not deemed "provocative" - should be allowed the same luxury of short sleeves just like every other teacher.

And if you should happen to receive a few form letters that knock you down, look at it as a blessing in disguise. You wouldn't want to work for someone who doesn't realize the positive message it would send to add a little diversity to the teacher's lounge. Be prepared for a little rejection, and maybe even a little ridicule, but, I leave it to Frost to impart some words of wisdom: "In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: It goes on."

Need sartorial advice? Email me:

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