On Piercings, Tongue Rings, and Looking Scary

On Piercings, Tongue Rings, and Looking Scary

Flickr by zebrasquares

Every Friday my syndicated column appears in a bunch of newspapers in southeastern Ontario and Saskatchewan. This week’s column is about respecting yourself and thinking about the future when considering the latest trends.

I have always been fascinated by nose rings. What happens when you have a cold and your nose starts to run? And what about tongue rings: wouldn’t piercing your tongue seriously hurt? Perhaps that’s the point: certain piercings prove you’re impervious to pain.

People have always tried to distinguish themselves from the crowd by appearing tough. Some are incensed with society and its conformity, and so they want to do something totally different.

They can call it conformity if they want, but I call it respect. Dressing appropriately shows respect for yourself, and respect for others. When you respect yourself, you dress like you want people to get to know you, not like you’re trying to scare them away. And when you respect others, you dress to encourage conversation. Don a costume, on the other hand, and you’re implicitly saying, “I’m going my own way.” They may say it’s about self-expression, but I often wonder if it’s about hiding. Wear a costume, and people talk about the costume and the image, rather than about what’s underneath.

And what is it that the nose rings, and the eyebrow rings, and the death-dyed hair say? They announce, “I’m tough. I don’t care what you think. I want to scare you a little.” Then, when people don’t accept you, you have a ready-made excuse: the rest of us are uptight and judgmental. You can continue to reject “the culture” and opt out, because we’ve rejected you first.

But let’s fast forward a few years and see how that plays out. It’s one thing to deliberately dress like an anti-social idealist when one is young. Eventually, though, you’re going to need money to pay for an apartment, and food, and just life. And you can’t get a job looking scary.

Who in their right mind is going to hire someone who looks Goth to be a receptionist? Or a sales clerk in any shop that caters to those over twenty? Or a server in a restaurant? Nobody, because these are businesses, and in business, it’s never a good idea to scare your customers away. Even government jobs will be closed to you; I’m sorry, but no kindergarten teacher can have skulls tattooed all over her arms.

Part of what concerns me about this whole trend, though, is that the young people who dress to make themselves virtually unemployable also tend to come from less than ideal circumstances. While there are exceptions, in general, kids from stable middle class families don’t tend to do this. And that makes me really sad, because I want to be a society which champions opportunity for all, not one that sticks some people in lower classes permanently.

So here’s some tough love for you: if you’ve come from a rough background, you start out with several strikes against you. But the vast majority of us want you to succeed; we do not want you to fail. We are not against you. But you’ve got to decide to help yourself.

So respect yourself! Dress appropriately. It doesn’t have to be boring or conventional, but it should be appropriate. Don’t scare people with hardware or make-up, and don’t make people uncomfortable by wearing tight clothing or showing a ton of cleavage. And for pity’s sake, pull up your pants.

You may hate society, but if that’s true, then why don’t you beat us at our own game? The best revenge is success. Why not set out to succeed and change the rules yourself?

It’s your right to make your own statement with how you dress. But I’d think twice before dressing in such a way as to scuttle all your options. You’re worth more than that. Please believe it, and dress accordingly.

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  1. Well said! This reminds me of Red Green’s thoughts about piercings (blunt but true):

    “I was taught you grow up clean and honest, you be kind to your neighbor, and you end life’s journey with the same amount of holes you started with.” :)

  2. One of the reasons I love the show “What Not to Wear” so much is because they explain this so well to their participants, and are so good at helping them find a “happy medium” in their manner of dress so that they feel comfortable and like themselves, but they can have an appropriate appearance for the workplace. I know a lot of people think appearance shouldn’t matter, but it does. And don’t we tend toward certain appearances as we follow our career paths?

    For example, I have these two brothers – one is a musician, one is formerly in law enforcement and is going into the military now. By their appearances, a complete stranger could tell you which is which. Is that so wrong? I don’t think so. I have another friend who, while she is a fairly conservative and sweet girl, has a little stud in her nose and a couple piercings in each ear. She got a job at a school whose dress code said the only piercings allowed were one in each ear. She removed her nose stud and extra earrings without hesitation. Because to her, following her dream of being a teacher was more important.

    So I would venture that there are many more important things than appearance. It’s just clothing. It’s just hair. It’s just jewelry. You can change that and still be yourself. If it’s what’s on the inside that counts, it shouldn’t be such a big deal to tweak what’s on the outside if it will help advance your career or get you closer to your dream.
    Melissa recently posted…Happy BabyMy Profile

    • Exactly! So well put. Just a question: if you take a nose ring out, is there still a hole? And what happens to that hole? I just can’t bear the thought of it…. :)

      • It depends on the person. My husband had a nose ring when I met him and removed it because his 120 pound dog kept catching it with his paws when they were rough housing. Fifteen years later he still has the hole but it’s not noticable because it blends in with his freckles but he can still blow bubbles out of it when under water.

      • I have a nose ring (and 2 earrings in each ear and a belly button ring). To answer the question about when you have a cold- well, generally you blow the snot down. The hole is so small I don’t notice any snot coming through. I do have to clean the drying up snot (at the end of a cold) off the ring though. I got my nose pierced in high school and had to take it out for college. It closed up completely. I then re-pierced it 5 years later because I liked it & missed it.
        I have gotten my piercings for a couple of reasons. My nose ring, mostly to identify with where I grew up- overseas. My ears and belly button- to be totally honest it is because I like how they look AND because I would otherwise look like a very stereotypical “good conservative girl/plain vanilla”. And I don’t want people to judge me right away, but to pause and think “maybe there is a story there”.
        (FWIW I dressed pretty conservatively and my hair is all natural and my piercings are subtle.)

      • I used to have my nose pierced (and, btw, there are many, many very respectful and low key options that aren’t scary in the least). Everyone I’ve ever known that had a nose piercing and removed it has quickly seen the hold close up. For a friend of mine, it actually happened overnight! Jewelry came out while she was sleeping and she couldn’t get it back in the morning. And unless you guage your piercings (put the very thick earrings or “plugs” in–like the photo at top) then you usually won’t have a noticeable hole after the jewelry is removed. I have three piercings in one ear, two in the other, and no one knows unless I wear jewelry in them.

        The one thing that does get me is very visible tattoos. I do have one from when I was in college. The only person who sees it is my husband b/c it is on my hip bone. However I know people who have full arm “sleeves” done and I wonder how they will feel about it when they are old. And, for the record, they generally do have trouble finding jobs and almost always have to wear long sleeves year round to work.

  3. The thing about dressing and “accessorizing” yourself in completely out of control things is that they are conforming just as much. There’s a dress code (a uniform almost!) that you have to adhere to if you want to be accepted in those subcultures.

    I don’t believe that conforming to societal standards means that you can’t dress like an individual. We’re not all the same and shouldn’t all look the same, but you don’t have to go to extremes to express your individuality.

    The sad thing about this way of dressing, all the piercings and tattoos is that a lot of people that do this are very sad and just want to be seen and accepted. My sister has always been like this and she has this deep need to be seen and to be loved. When she appears as her regular self no one sees her, and she thinks that being seen is the same thing as being accepted and loved. She and many others have this deep seated need to be loved and accepted and because they feel like they can’t be accepted, what the point in even trying, right? Better to be extreme and have people fear/respect you. My sister is 26 by the way and has dressed like this since she was 16. I pray that she will experience God’s undying love for her and that he can fill that hole in her heart that she is desperately trying to fill with being extreme and doing extreme things. Always looking for the next kick, the next high to make her feel truly alive.

    Thank you for mentioning that this is mainly a problem with people from a lower class background and that you’re being kind and honest rather than just deride them. I think that shows you have an understanding and a caring that makes your column go from being just complaining about how people dress to being an encouragement.

  4. This hits such a chord with me as I have two brothers that feel the need to accessorize counter-culturally. The odd thing to me is that one brother has dreads and ear stretchers (sorry, but ewwww) and dresses somewhat sloppily. One day he was walking downtown and one person offered him food, thinking he was homeless. The same day, a homeless man wished him luck finding a warm place to spend the night. I have to wonder what is going on in his head that people think he is homeless and he is ok with that. We talked about it and he thinks it is funny. Luckily for him, he works in a job where he doesn’t interact with the public and his bosses seem ok with his look. I think he was blessed to find them because not everyone is so understanding about expressing oneself.
    We know and love my brothers because we know what is on the inside. Unfortunately, people do judge a book by its cover and you can’t be too upset about that because, as my husband says, you can’t see personality across the room.

    • Oh, those ear stretcher things just make me nauseous. I can’t even look! But you’re right; we can’t judge personality across the room, and so the way that you dress does show whether or not you respect yourself. I wish more people got that!

      • It may sound odd, but if you walked up to a table with, say a Snicker’s, one candy bar fully wrapped laying on one plate and one candy bar completely open but seemingly untouched, which would you prefer to pick up? You may drool over the luscious appearance beautiful chocolate before your eyes, but seriously who knows what has happened to that bar? Someone may have seriously effected it. The wrapped one on the other hand is still in it’s original wrapping and you know nothing has happened to devalue it, one would tend to desire it more because of the security of the wrapper.
        Likewise, I think of people who dress so obscurely you can literally feel their pain. They aren’t even hiding anymore, they are simply flashing themselves for everyone to see. Knowing, in many cases, they aren’t likely to be approached. The girl who dresses skimpily, has a hard story to tell and is appealing for one thing typically. But it is very evident that she doesn’t respect herself and therefore cannot be respected, so long as she continues in the way of life in which has her dressing like that. The girl who is aware of her appearance tells others she is comfortable with herself, confident, and inviting. More people will choose to talk to those who seem to respect themselves long before the “deal with” others whose pain is so obvious. Sad truth is, people don’t want to take the time to get to know someone who is that hurt or broken.
        And, a lot of our looking away is what many of them want. That fact is what saddens me. Hurt people need help the most, but refuse it because they are being more judgmental than those they accuse of being judgmental. Some adornment is pretty, but there is overkill in everything.
        Shelia, the tongue ring isn’t as bad as it seems. There are only nerve endings on the edge of your tongue and the muscle splits in the middle – where they place the piercing. (I have not read your book yet, or other blogs to know your opinion on the matter, but…) They also make oral sex appealing for the partner. 😀 My husband loved mine for the few years I had it. But I developed a fear of my child pulling it out, so I never repierced after she was born. And it can be hidden with a spacer for work environments, no dilect change or understanding was noticed by my employer and he knew I had it done.

        • As much as I agree that people should give what they choose to put on their bodies ALOT of thought, because it often takes expensive procedures to fix or remove some things; I have to agree with your comment about how people that “wear their pain” need someone to care, they don’t always act like they like it cuz they might be used on people walking out on them, but I think everyone could use some restoration of their faith in humanity. I used to have alot of Goth and Punk friends and I was pretty typical and they would dress in crazy things but I loved them dearly but so many of them hurt alot and they were amazing people. I came from a messed up home too so I knew what it was like to suffer, I just wish more people would be accepting, not for the tattoos and piercings etc, but for the person behind them.

          I saw a picture the other day that said “The world judges me by the actions I take, Never does it see the options I had to choose from”

      • I always wonder what those people with the ear stretchers are planning on doing when they’re 60….let their grandchildren play jump rope with their ear lobes?
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  5. Fabulously written. As Melissa said, I love watching What Not To Wear too. I have seen some extreme punk dressers learn how to still have their personality show through their clothing but in a “main stream” way. One such person was a hair dresser and her client base soared after she was on the show due to her still being able to dress a bit edgy /artsy but in a very acceptable and classy way. My heart breaks for the pain many of them feel, and I hope many can respect themselves and strive for success rather than reinforcing the rejection, solitude, feelings and reactions their dressing promotes.

    • Oh, me, too, Marisa! I think so much of it comes out of pain and rejection. They fear rejection, so if they can put up this wall, then what’s inside won’t be rejected. But it just makes life so much lonelier and harsher, and far less successful.

  6. Tattooed teacher? Got ’em! Metal-faced grocery cashier? Got ’em. Black lipped Goth waitress? Got ’em. And I live in a fairly conservative area.

    I was driving down the road one day and I see a young, well dressed waiter walking into the restaurant. Soon after, I see an Emo guy sauntering down the road with a skateboard under his arm. I immediately thought better of the waiter. Then I thought, what if the waiter smokes pot and treats his girlfriend like crap? What if the emo kid volunteers at a nursing home and helps care for his disabled sister? You just don’t know!

    Granted, ear stretchers make me gag and the goth thing is so 1990s.

    • Absolutely, you don’t know. But then, why wouldn’t the emo kid dress so that he or she doesn’t scare people away? Looks don’t show the character, but they do give the impression about whether or not you want to be approached, you know?

      • Perhaps they dress that way so that the people who seem to think they are better won’t approach them.
        You’re scared away by the way someone looks? Awesome. Stay in your tight little circle of church people who wear only the “right” things.
        I can’t say for sure, but do you think Jesus would have hung out with you & your judging circle?
        Or would he have reached out to the others?
        Seriously, who are YOU to judge? How is that showing God’s love?
        It’s people like you who turn people away from God.

        • Emile, we’re not talking about who I would hang out with. And as I said in a comment, many in my church do dress like this, and we get along fine! I think you are perhaps judging me unfairly here.

          I have no doubt that people dress like that to turn some people away. My point is that the people that they turn away are also the people who could give them a leg up in life: employers, admissions officers. Do you think that perhaps it may not be a good idea to dress in such a way as to turn off an employer? That’s what I’m talking about, not church.

          • The only thing that is not okay here is for you to judge others. I don’t care if you are judging based on clothing, piercings, tattoos, makeup. You have no right to judge.
            Only God knows someones heart. You don’t.
            What makes your striped jacket, your dangling gold earrings & the big chain around your neck acceptable? If you had to interview for a job, and the employer chose not to hire because striped jackets & gold earrings and UGLY (as you keep calling people in your comments), would you WANT to work for that person?
            I wouldn’t. That’s discrimination, plain and simple.
            Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take my pierced nose & put it in my Sunday School guide.
            *gasp* How can someone with a pierced nose be qualified to be a Sunday School teacher? She is ugly & must scare the children! Quick Sheila, find a way to stop this madness!

          • Where did I judge anyone in that column? Where?

            I said that employers are unlikely to hire someone who looks scary.

            I did not judge their hearts, or their motives. In fact, I said very clearly that I feel for them and wanted them to succeed!

            I think perhaps it is not me who is being judgmental.

          • Sheila,

            It seems I’m not the only one who thinks you are being judgmental. It’s all in your article, and while it’s YOUR blog…just as you are “helping” teens know what others find distasteful, as a Christian, it’s my place to tell you that your words aren’t “helping” your Christian witness.
            Melissa recently posted…Home is where the heart is.My Profile

          • Shelia,

            This comment isn’t for re-post unless you feel the need. When in your comments you say that things are disgusting, etc. People find that offensive. The blog is your opinion. You haven’t stated that, and wrote as this point of view being the gospel according to you. Your intentions are good, but the execution was a bit off. Not everyone feels as you do and this point of view is not the case as a general rule. As a Christian all your statements and actions reflect on your witness. I’m honestly not offended by your opinion at all. I do see it as being narrow minded and urge you to examine your statements before making them. Re-worded slightly people may not have become offended or felt your judgement. All I ask is that you own your words, not back track and explain that although some may find it offensive that it is only your opinion after all.

            How can you say that a nose ring is ok, but this piercing is just scary without seeing that as judging? Is a Mom&Dad inside a heart tattoo ok, but a skull morbid and scary? It’s a judgement call is it not? The only difference between tattooed people and those that are not is that tattooed people don’t care that you have no tattoos. That’s true across the board and society as a whole is much more accepting than you are when it comes to body modification.
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          • David, I never said what I thought was “scary”, I only said that it is possible to dress in a way that most people will think is scary. I’m not trying to define what that is; I never did try, except to show you a picture. My point is simply that if you dress in a way that other people is scary, you limit your chances in life. And I do not think that this is a non-Christian thing to say.

            I personally am not scared by people with piercings, and like I said, I have some in my family. (I do find it very difficult to look at people who stretch their earlobes, but that’s another story). But that doesn’t mean that these people will have an easy time getting hired, which is all I was saying.

          • I also felt uncomfortable/turned off by your choosing to use the word “scary”. It really doesn’t matter what you define as scary b/c you are placing that title on the things you are discussing (piercings, dressing unconventionally, extreme hair color, tattoos, etc.). I don’t think most people find this “scary”. Not even my VERY conservative grandparents would have ever described my piercings or tattoo as scary. Distasteful maybe, but that was a very different generation. The generations entering the workforce now (and in many cases the management as well) is not scared or put off by these things because they have been acceptable for so long. I’m not judging you, but the word choices you make create a very bold and almost judgmental tone to your article.

          • I understand what you’re saying, but don’t you think there are people who deliberately look scary? That’s what my column was about. I wasn’t saying YOU looked scary; I was saying that some people deliberately do, you know?

          • And what is it that the nose rings, and the eyebrow rings, and the death-dyed hair say? They announce, “I’m tough. I don’t care what you think. I want to scare you a little.”

            And you can’t get a job looking scary.

            Even government jobs will be closed to you; I’m sorry, but no kindergarten teacher can have skulls tattooed all over her arms.

            Part of what concerns me about this whole trend, though, is that the young people who dress to make themselves virtually unemployable also tend to come from less than ideal circumstances.While there are exceptions, in general, kids from stable middle class families don’t tend to do this. And that makes me really sad, because I want to be a society which champions opportunity for all, not one that sticks some people in lower classes permanently.

            Sheila says:
            October 12, 2012 at 11:03 am
            Oh, those ear stretcher things just make me nauseous. I can’t even look!

            Sheila says:
            October 12, 2012 at 11:17 am
            Oh, me, too, Marisa! I think so much of it comes out of pain and rejection. They fear rejection, so if they can put up this wall, then what’s inside won’t be rejected. But it **just makes life so much lonelier and harsher, and far less successful.**

            I wonder if certain personalities can compensate for this? Or certain jobs? Your husband, for instance, is in law enforcement, where I would think looking scary and having tattoos would actually be a plus.

            Because I think it does, and I think sometimes that by encouraging kids to dress however they want, and to express themselves however they want, we do a disservice to them, that’s all. As other comenters have said, you can express your individuality without looking scary or like a gang member or like someone who worships death (which is what skull tattoos and lots of black makeup look like).

            Okay, here’s a picture of a beautiful girl that I’ve found who is dressed the way I was thinking: http://gothic.lilithezine.com/images/Gothic-Makeup-08.jpg

            Do you not agree that perhaps this kind of appearance could be off-putting to university admissions officials or employers? Again, I’m not asking if it SHOULD be off-putting; I’m asking don’t you think it IS?

            (and no, I don’t it’s off-putting)

            And these kids also tend to be the ones from the poorer socio-economic strata. So I think that we need to help them succeed, and telling them, “it’s okay to still dress anti-socially” doesn’t help them.

            Yes, I think you’re right. When I’m picturing all this in my head I see people who are **looking ugly**–heavy black makeup, big stud things (or whatever you call them, like the things in the picture above), or just really scary.

            Nope, you aren’t judgmental at all. None of what I just copied & pasted from your article & your replies to comments is in any way judging.
            Saying people who dress like this are probably poor, and they’re ugly, and scary, that they don’t care & they want to scare you, saying they make you nauseous.
            None of that is judging.

            I’m walking away from your stupidity now. And yes, THAT was me judging the character you showed in this article & in your comments. Goodbye.

          • Emile, none of your examples show me questioning people’s hearts or sinful natures at all. None. Yet you have questioned mine.

          • Chin up Sheila … sounds like these ladies have a chip on their shoulders when it comes to having been judged by someone in the past rather than actually reading what you said!!

            (I’ve had this very conversation with my son that while it may not be RIGHT, it’s REALITY that people make assumptions about you based on what you look like and in THIS CULTURE the piercings, etc get you a question before they even get a CHANCE to know you — does it have anything to do with your heart for the Lord? Absolutely not but you do have to THINK about how you come across to others especially in leadership/ministry).
            Holly recently posted…Warrior Prayers … praying for your sonsMy Profile

          • Judging people’s hearts and minds is off limits, but judging their outer appearance is A-OK?

            You have posted a very narrow view of what you feel is “acceptable” outward appearance. One hundred years ago, women wearing pants was not considered “appropriate” attire. Maybe you (and others) should modify your opinions (one might even say “judgments”) as to what is “scary” and/or “ugly.”

          • I think that colour between yellow and brown is really ugly. If someone wears it, I’m going to think that they don’t look very good. Am I judging them, or do I merely have an opinion? Judging and having an opinion are not the same thing. One is a matter of the heart; one is a matter of the mind. And we all have opinions; to pretend we don’t is to lie. Opinions are not a problem, and to have an opinion does not mean that you are condemning anyone, which is what judging is.

          • Wow… I work with youth and college students… I do street ministry and come from a rough family, I have a cousin that’s a tatoo artist. I lived in the “ghetto” in Dallas for 3 years and I was born in New Mexico which is a pretty rough state as a whole. Many of the people in my Church are former convicts. I agree with you Sheila. I totally welcome anyone no matter what they look like, what they’re wearing, and I think it can go either way on saying who they are. Sometimes it’s a statement, sometimes it’s just a preference. But employers have dress codes. That’s a fact of life. My husband worked at places where he had to stay clean shaven. I’ve worked in offices that required “normal” hair colors, certain types of shoes, clothing that was business casual, and if you had more than just one peircing on either ear then you had to pick which one you wanted to use. And that was in the mail room on the bottom floor of a fortune 500 company. It’s not judging it’s a society standard, plain and simple. To say that a Christian is judging because they’re pointing out something that is a cultural standard is staight up outlandish. Hubbs and I encourage the kids in the youth group to dress professionally when they go to apply for a job. Ditch the piercings while at work, get rid of the rainbow colors in their hair, iron their clothes and make sure it’s “business” attire and that’s even if they’re just applying for their first job at McDonalds. Since Hubby and I are both under the age of 30 they usually listen to us. It’s amazing how much faster they get hired when they do those little things.

          • Woow, OK I used to have Goth friends, To say you DON’T dress like that to make certain people leave you alone is kindof a big fat hairy lie. You dress like that and are accepted by people who dress like that.

            People who are punk/Goth/Emo tend to hang with their own crowd and reject more conservative people (*GASP*) Judging THEM and thinking they will be uptight and judgmental.

            People bodybuild to look tough, and typically shun weaker people

            People who are more promiscuous (or seeking quick attention) dress to attract attention and reject the more modest crowd.

            Are we seeing a pattern here?

            It’s a social dymanic, learn it, you already live it, get used to it.

            It takes a special type of person to be openly widely accepting, and let’s face it, there aren’t alot of those.

            That being said…. In a JOB SEEKING scenario, you either need to conform to the expectations of the job you want, and find a way to express your individuality in a way that won’t make too much impact in an undesirable way, or you go for a job that will accept your manner of dress or where it is even encouraged.

            I believe that is the point of this article, not that people who dress “scary” are bad and evil, unbalanced and untrustworthy blah, blah, blah. But that the way they choose to present themselves can be detrimental to a future job.

          • Wow Emile, I thought a free world is a place where people are free to have their opinions… but I guess not for you… If you don’t find such people off-putting – fine. But you have no right to be mean to those who do. Sheila made a great point. I work with many underprivileged young adults in the inner-city and so many of them feel like the world is all against them and they can’t get into school and they can’t find a job and… etc., etc., etc, But Sheila is right – sometimes a little cleaning up goes a long way. If I ever had an opportunity to talk to you face to face I could tell you countless stories of girls who had tongue rings, bright hair, piercings everywhere and tattoos. Some of them toned down their hair and took out their tongue rings and found decent jobs. Some felt it wasn’t fair – so they are still struggling. You want to look like that image you shared – fine. But don’t complain that no one wants to hire you. Don’t you dare go on welfare. Go start your own business, work from home, tutor online or whatever. And don’t complain about me because I choose not to hire you. I am growing sooooooo tired of people calling me (or others like me, or Sheila) judgmental and narrow-minded. Somehow you have the right to call me names and you have the right to tell me what I can and cannot like. Hmmm – interesting… how come you can not tolerate an opinion different from yours?
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  7. apple blossom says:

    very good thoughts. Thanks for sharing. I must say when I see someone with a nose ring I imminently think of a pig….That is always a picture in my mind is pigs with rings in their snouts….It is very disgusting if you ask me. And those big gauges that people put in their ears to make a big hole and weigh your earlobe I think of cannibals.

  8. apple blossom says:

    you’ll have to do one on tattoos I know that is kind of implied here but I think there is enough on the subject to do a short article.

  9. I love this!

  10. Stefwithanf says:

    I have to say that reading your blog has helped me grow my world view and see more of God’s truth in plenty of areas! I own a copy of your latest book (I’m newly engaged 😉 THANK YOU!
    I agree in large part with what you are saying, I just have an experience that might be in between here. I had my lip pierced at sixteen and I convinced my mom through six months of non stop negotiation, I worte an essay, and I prayed to God that I wouldn’t do it without her permission.
    I lovingly cared for it, cleaned it nightly, felt cool, in my opinion how different was my lip than an my ear? I even coordinated for my earrings to match the Rhinestone!

    I got plenty of flack from members in my community, that I was ruining my beauty, that I was poisoning my image; I got treated differently by a few people and I didn’t understand that at sixteen. Instead, I felt hurt because as Christ we are called to represent Him and guess which members of the community were the most offended? The Christians like me! I know I would have felt convicted in my spirit for making someone feel the way I felt over that. I wasn’t asking everyone to agree, how many times has absolutely everyone agreed on anything? But not enough covering, or peace-seeking or grace can feed into any anger someone has if they truly are embracing a physical look on the basis of emotional anger and hurt. And I can tell that you are displaying a measure of that grace in your article for lost people who use their physical appearance for an emotional outlet in a negative way. I just think there are a few grey areas here concerning what those are shy of anything super extreme, of course. I didn’t feel negativity in my choice personally at all. It was just the negative connotations with it that put my choice in a bad light.

    I have since taken my peircing out after a some good long years, I felt the Lord drawing me into my church community on a deeper level and during prayer He clued me into the fact that others wouldn’t be able to take me as seriously. So I sacrificed it for the Lord and I know He’ll cover any pain and mourning I had over loosing it and more. He is really good at keeping His Word, you know? Thank God! 😀 I also learned a whole lot about us as people during that time.
    I didn’t take it out because I was ‘healed’ or because of the snubs or stinging reproves of others, but only for the love of One and love shone like that really stands out so much more :) And I think that we as a church have a great ministry to people on the outside if we can just see through their looks in to the reasoning and try and help them along as Christ has done for me, peaceably and with honesty as you have displayed as a thread throughout your blog and in your approach to ministry 😀
    Thank you and any others for taking the time to peek into my mind, have a blessed day!

    • I completely agree with you that the church should be coming alongside these people–absolutely! Just remember that my column is a secular one, and it was really aimed more at the people doing this to themselves: saying people won’t take you seriously and will be put off by you. Which is absolutely true, as you found, as well.

      I think there are two separate issues: One is that as disciples of Christ we need to be reaching out with grace and seeing past the hardware. But the other is that people need to be shown that what they are doing is harmful to themselves and their prospects.

      I couldn’t really say the first part in the column because of space constraints and the nature of the column, but I do completely agree. But the second still needs to be said as well.

      It sounds like God is doing an amazing work in your life, and that’s wonderful!

  11. I like What Not To Wear as well! The thing is that it’s possible to express yourself without being inappropriate. To me, fashion is art, and because I see it that way, I have an extremely unique style. It’s a mix between vintage, lolita, and…I can’t think of words to describe the other aspects of it. It is completely my own, and as my brother said, it “suits me.” I wear a lot of ultra feminine things that are uniquely beautiful. And yet….I’m modest, and most of my clothes are appropriate even for work. (There are clothes I save just for dates, or for around-the-house wear.)

    I’m all for expressing yourself through clothing, but I agree that there’s something off-putting about certain styles, that make the wearers unapproachable.
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  12. I’d have to say I disagree with this one. Sorry, but we’re all entitled:)

    My husband is an amazing father, was in law enforcement for over 10 years, is a genius businessman (we own our own business) and is not only manly, but is completely in tune with those around him. He’s charismatic and is loved by most everyone he comes in contact with.

    …and he’s covered in tattoos and has piercings (albeit you can’t see them when he’s dressed). He’s got a full sleeve on one arm and is in the process of the other, has tattoos on his back, chest, and legs.

    He’s a preachers son, is an amazing man of God and leader of our family, and quite frankly has never been a person that gave a rats hiney about what others perceive. If someone else is so shallow (and not able to look past someone’s appearance) or is so taken back that they can’t be Christ-like, then why should he care to interact with them? They probably saving him the trouble of dealing with someone difficult.

    On another note, my son, was clean cut (because of our rules) until he was 18. He’s a “skater-guy” and once he turned 18 got tattoos and his lip pierced (snake bites). Aside from that, he’s a hard worker, he is now a father, and is an amazing man. He is loyal, sensitive and loving, and when others judge him because of his lip ring he feels bad for THEM, that they limit themselves by their misconceptions.

    I think it’s people that don’t know anyone with piercings or tattoos that are the ones that have the stigma and should branch out a little to learn that you don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Or, you can, but the book doesn’t care, someone else knows what’s in it and how good it is.
    Melissa recently posted…The men in my life.My Profile

    • Melissa, you’re certainly entitled to disagree! And please note that I never said that people who do this aren’t good people–I just said that they are lowering their chances for acceptance and success.

      But you raise an interesting point–I wonder if certain personalities can compensate for this? Or certain jobs? Your husband, for instance, is in law enforcement, where I would think looking scary and having tattoos would actually be a plus. And as a business owner, you don’t have to get a job, you can create your job. So I think an outgoing, fun person can still do well in many jobs. But I worry about those who are quiet, and insecure, who are making their lives worse for themselves, you know?

      • My husband is typing a comment as I type this:) I read him your post and my response and he’s a blogger himself, so he felt the need, but then he hit enter and got an error…and it all is floating in cyberspace!

        To answer you…”I just said that they are lowering their chances for acceptance and success.” Acceptance and Success by people who are shallow and can’t get past their own hangups? No thanks.

        Success has zero to do with what is on your body, it has everything to do with what you know or can do. I wouldn’t want to work for someone that thought otherwise. Fortunately, the world is changing and there are more people that think less like your article outlines, and more like the majority of the world.

        As for the piercings, I wouldn’t know, I only have my ears pierced:) I do know that unless the hole is stretched (like with a gauge), then it’s like our ears, it just looks like a dot, I know I can’t pour water through my earring hole! My son removes his lip rings when he has an interview or when he feels someone will be shallow and judge him incorrectly, he’s never had a drink drip through:)
        Melissa recently posted…Can’t we all just get along? Apparently not.My Profile

        • You said, “Success has zero to do with what is on your body, it has everything to do with what you know or can do.”

          So then, let me ask you this: is there ANYTHING that someone could wear that you think would jeopardize their chances of landing a job? Not that whether it SHOULD jeopardize their chances; that’s a different point and I didn’t address that at all. Just anything that WOULD jeopardize their chances?

        • Shelia, as a general rule you are correct and on point in most of your posts. Here you just simply don’t seem to be getting it. I wasn’t always a cop and I have been in sales for most of my life in one form or another. I also have had to appear in front of clients to secure contracts and get a “job” even being self-employed. You seem to be making a lot of assumptions about tattooed/pierced people as well as the way the world at large views them.

          I’ve never had any issue with employment in any position I have applied for, nor has society shunned me. The church on the other hand is a different story. As Christians we should be drawn to the people that appear different or withdrawn, because we know how much they need the Lord as their comforter. In most cases your assumption is off base completely. It’s the children of God with the hang-ups about appearance that may hold someone back if they aren’t “button downed” so to speak.

          Why is it that the church and Christians are put off by appearance? Christianity isn’t a social club for you to feel comfortable. After becoming saved it is your duty to spread the word to those in need of God, not just the ones that make you feel comfortable. Hence the need for Christians like myself that have been treated like less than human by fellow children of God. Where your assumptions are correct, these kids and adults need someone they can identify with. They need to feel accepted if they are ever to come to Christ. Tattoo and piercings aren’t the problem, the lack of willingness to see past them is a problem but a very rare one unless in church settings.
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          • David, I think there are two separate issues here: one about how the church should people, on which we entirely agree. But that wasn’t what I was writing about. What I was writing about was that some young people, by going heavily goth or emo, really do limit their chances in life. I’m not making a moral judgment about whether this is a good thing or not, like whether people SHOULD be discriminated against or not; I’m saying that it is a fact.

            As I asked Melissa, do you think that there is anything that someone could wear that would limit their chances at getting a job? Or at success in general? Or do you think that it entirely doesn’t matter? Remember, I’m not asking whether it SHOULD matter; I’m asking whether it DOES.

            Because I think it does, and I think sometimes that by encouraging kids to dress however they want, and to express themselves however they want, we do a disservice to them, that’s all. As other comenters have said, you can express your individuality without looking scary or like a gang member or like someone who worships death (which is what skull tattoos and lots of black makeup look like). You don’t have to dress like everyone else, but you should be appropriate. Do you not think that there may be a line where what people look like could jeopardize their chances at life?

          • Okay, here’s a picture of a beautiful girl that I’ve found who is dressed the way I was thinking: http://gothic.lilithezine.com/images/Gothic-Makeup-08.jpg

            Do you not agree that perhaps this kind of appearance could be off-putting to university admissions officials or employers? Again, I’m not asking if it SHOULD be off-putting; I’m asking don’t you think it IS?

          • Sheila…I’m going to say this and move on. The picture in your article depicts your view of “scary” or ugly. Really?

            As for your question, no, it doesn’t matter. Here’s why. Someone who is interviewing me or David for a job and chooses not to hire me because say I wear a low cut top (which I don’t) or because he has tattoos on his arms (which they normally won’t see if he’s meeting for business) clearly has a hangup of their own. In an interview for a job, it is about getting to know the qualifications, the person and what they can bring to your business. So, no, it doesn’t matter. Women get hired every day that wear skimpy clothes to an interview (something I’m sure most people here would agree is not ok), men with tattoos and piercings work all over, and they are hired by normal everyday folks without tattoos or piercings. The scenario you are trying to make into a big deal only exists with those who think like you and a few other narrow minded people here on the comments. People that you feel are doing themselves a disservice are every age, and work in every field and don’t have a problem getting jobs, however you seem to be trying to disguise your disdain by talking to teens/young adults. There are plenty that have gone before them that are successful, in spite of those that don’t know better. It is NOT the norm to think like you do. What I’m saying is that people that have this hangup are in the minority, and those of us that have tattoos/piercings or love someone that does, see it all the time, first hand.

            I believe there is tons of backpeddaling with comments that nose rings aren’t as bad etc, and that this is 2 separate issues. It is one issue…you aren’t looking out for anyone but your own comfort and dislike of how someone else chooses to represent themselves. Pity.

            I’d like to leave you with this. Jesus, passed by those that were “normal” and the status quo to find those that were NOT being ministered to, the ones cast out, the ones that the “normal” ones forgot. The problem with the church is highlighted here in the comments, and is being enforced by your words. It is sad to have it in print, what I’ve known for years about many Christians. You won’t hurt me, or my husband’s feelings, or damage our walk with Christ, but you have hammered at the witness others that DON’T agree with you see, and you have reinforced what they find so often in life with Christians. The “normal” world doesn’t agree with you.

            I am absolutely glad I do not attend your church, or the one Natalie attends. They are the ones that are full of people wanting to live up to and be accepted, and by being judge mental of those they perceive as less than or “ugly” they feel better about themselves. What a pity that this is your Christian mentality. To those wondering if ALL Christians feel like this, WE DON’T!
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          • Melissa, my church has tons of kids who dress like this! And we have them over to our house all the time! (a few are in my own family). I think you’re really judging me for something I did not say.

            Jesus accepted these people, as should we.

            But we also need to tell young people how to succeed at life. And dressing this way does not help in job interviews (nor does dressing in skimpy clothing, as I’ve written about at length as well).

            I honestly don’t see why this is a controversial thing to say. It has nothing to do with whether or not we personally accept them or whether the church accepts them; it has to do with the fact that the kids who dress this way are limiting their options.

            And these kids also tend to be the ones from the poorer socio-economic strata. So I think that we need to help them succeed, and telling them, “it’s okay to still dress anti-socially” doesn’t help them.

            Yes, reaching out to them does, and I do that on a personal level (my husband and I are both involved in youth ministry). But this column is not addressed to a Christian audience; it’s to a secular audience and it’s in a bunch of newspapers. And if you were to take a survey of 100 employers, and ask them if they would hire a girl to work as a receptionist in a normal insurance office or law office, or even as a grocery check out clerk, if she shows up dressing like that, I can guarantee you that at least 90 would not. Do you disagree with that? I’m not saying “do you think that’s the way the world SHOULD work”, I’m saying do you honestly think dressing like that wouldn’t matter in a job interview? That’s really what I’m getting at here. I’m not talking about churches. I’m talking about jobs. (Oh, and by the way, our church does have kids on praise teams with piercings, so this has nothing to do with my church or with my own personal friends. It has to do with success in general).

          • Doesn’t matter if your blog is Christian or not, YOU are a Christian and this is not representative of how Christians should act or view others. Remember, as Christians, we are judged constantly by the secular world. For you to say that this blog is not addressed to a Christian audience should make you even more mindful of your words to them.

            “Do you not agree that perhaps this kind of appearance could be off-putting to university admissions officials or employers? Again, I’m not asking if it SHOULD be off-putting; I’m asking don’t you think it IS?”

            I told you, I DO NOT THINK IT IS. I think it is off-putting and unacceptable to YOU and a few other narrow minded, judgmental Christians. However, it is rampant that Christians bring to light things they don’t approve of under the guise of help. You aren’t trying to help anyone, if you were, you’d speak to those wrongly judging, not the ones being judged.
            Melissa recently posted…Home is where the heart is.My Profile

          • Melissa,

            I have to say your posts come off as very judgmental. I think you are being extremely rude to Shelia (calling her narrow-minded and judgmental? How narrow-minded and judgmental of you to label someone’s heart and mind whom you do not know personally. Oh, but you can do it because she exposed herself with her words? But *she* can’t do it when people expose themselves with their clothing choices? How hypocritical of you.).

            Look, I hate to break it to you, but appearances DO actually matter when it comes to job interviews. I don’t understand how you can possibly think that it DOESN’T. I find that very naive of you, quite frankly. And this is coming from someone who has a tattoo, as well as the sister of a soldier who has *many* tattoos. And we both understand this. As a Christian is called to represent Christ, so an employee is called to represent the company. And *many* companies have dress codes. I’m not sure where you live/work that companies *don’t* have dress codes, but a great majority of legitimate places do.

            “…you aren’t looking out for anyone but your own comfort and dislike of how someone else chooses to represent themselves. Pity.” That finger your pointing? One finger may be pointing at Shelia, but look at yourself. Four are pointing right back at you. Shelia expressed herself in this piece. Seems like you’re only concerned for your comfort and are showing you dislike for how Shelia has represented herself. Ironic.

            Look, I’m sure you’re going to take my response as rude. And I will admit that my intention in writing it is with firmness. But I think you’re being over the top critical of a factual societal truth: appearances DO matter. People have hangups? How judgmental of you to say that. Seems like you are all about judging people’s motives and hearts. And Shelia isn’t talking ABOUT CHURCH. I don’t know how many more times she needs to SAY that before you READ that. She is talking about the secular employment world. I think you are propping up a straw man argument so you can justify your own vitriol of something that obviously bothers you about some churches. And I think all of us agree about accepting people in church. But we aren’t talking about church.

            I just think that you are arguing something opposite of what is actually being said.

            Fact: In the REAL WORLD, appearances do matter when it comes to employment. Get over it. That’s just how the business world works.

            Fact: Some churches DO allow people to fall through the cracks because they don’t pass some arbitrary qualification of “acceptance” by church members.


            It’s obvious from your comments that you have a tender heart concerning the people that DO fall through the cracks of churches and I feel that’s very commendable of you. More people SHOULD care. But attacking Shelia for discussing a truth that often has profound effects on the ability of people to rise ABOVE their circumstances and achieve the most out of their life (career-wise, anyway) is just wrong. And judging her heart (which I’m sure you actually know VERY LITTLE about) is wrong, too.

            Your comments to her are unhelpful. They are mean-spirited. And I’m sure you’re a lovely person, too. So it seems a double shame that you come across this way.

          • Katie, that was so well said.
            Melissa, I hope you prayerfully consider her words to you.

          • Perhaps if Sheila were speaking to business owners, she would likely encourage them to get to know potential interview candidates and not base their decision to hire on their looks, but that is not the point that she was making in this post. I believe that you are mistaken if you think that appearance does not matter to many many employers. Unfortunately, in certain settings, most people judge you by your appearance and that is just a fact of our culture. In the current economy, young people need to be aware of every possible advantage to get a job.

            It is very unkind to tell Sheila “You aren’t trying to help anyone”. You do not know her motives or her heart. You could make your point that it would be more helpful to tell judgmental employers that they should not think that way, but that is not what you said. Melissa, if you are claiming Christ, then I must call you out and say that calling names, determining motives, and claiming to know about the problems in her church are inappropriate behaviors.

          • Hey Melissa,

            The wife of the former associate pastor (who still attends our church – he decided the pastorate wasn’t his gig) has a nose piercing. I have a big ol’ streak of blue in my bangs. A friend of mine who attended before moving away has tattoos. My church isn’t exactly known for being uptight. On the other hand, Paul clearly teaches us that us that modesty and good taste aren’t merely a function of clothing because he lumps one’s hair arrangement and jewelry in there as well. So there’s a modest, discrete way to use jewelry and arrange one’s hair. That tells me there’s a God honoring way to pierce my body and a dishonoring way to pierce my body. The same goes for hair choices, tattoos, clothing, etc. If there’s a wrong way to use personal adornments then we should be able to talk about it without everyone getting their undies in a bunch! Seriously! Put on your big girl pants, admit that Sheila has a point, and engage the discussion from there.
            Natalie recently posted…A little bit of communityMy Profile

          • This is the reason people run from organized religion…if you don’t want to hear what’s wrong, just get some backup to tell you you’re right!!

            I prayed BEFORE writing my comment…I also spoke with my husband about it, and decided that while I might be the only one to disagree, I too had something to say and call her out on. Turns out I wasn’t alone. I have very big girl pants on, seems others should put theirs on and stop with the woe is me. None of this surprises or bothers me, as I can stand with MY opinion and MY words, and I am confident in them.
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          • You said you wouldn’t want to belong to my church because we judge people. You said this based (presumably) on what I said about there being better and worse ways to pursue body modification/personal adornment. I responded that my church does not make knee jerk reactions to people’s appearances and cited examples. I also cited Paul on there being more or less Godly ways to adorn oneself. Please engage with what I said.

            As for questioning the state of your big girl pants – I assumed that a woman actually wearing her big girl pants could engage with what’s being said without resorting to emotional outbursts or unwarranted ad hominem attacks.

            Let me ask you a simple question. Is is possible for Christians to engage in profitable discussion over how one chooses to adorn one’s body? If so what would you say are the boundaries of that discussion?
            Natalie recently posted…Words matter – most of the timeMy Profile

          • Melissa,

            First of all, I feel as though I have to apologize to you. I said what I did in the spirit of anger and whether or not you feel my response was rude or hurtful, I was angry when I wrote the response and didn’t do so in the love of Christ. For that, I sincerely apologize to you. Disagreements between brothers and sisters in Christ should be filled with grace, humility and Christlike love. Not filled with anger and strife that profits nothing. I recognize that and I ask for your forgiveness.

            That being said, you and I will never agree. We come from very different perspectives and backgrounds (I believe) and just see different sides of issues. That’s not wrong, but it does create a recipe for conflict if we allow the pot to be stirred. Especially if it is something that causes emotions in us to run on high. Which for me, and I’m sure you too, it does. This is a very sensitive issue to a lot of people and it will take careful maneuvering to avoid rubbing up against others wounds.

            As you stand by your comments, I stand by mine. I only apologize for the tone in which they were written.

            Let us agree to disagree on the issue. Instead of arguing, we can both strive to become more Christlike (which, as the Bible says, is what we should be doing anyway) and hopefully as the mind of Christ and Spirit of God flourish in all of us, we will be able to see the point of view of another person without being unnecessarily critical, mean-spirited, judgmental, or full of strife (and this isn’t written about you or about Shelia, or even about me…this is just what happens when we allow anger to overcome love). Sometimes when we are very passionate or sensitive about a topic, it makes it almost impossible to understand the point of view of anyone else that doesn’t agree with us. Of that, I am absolutely guilty. I won’t deny this.

            But I would hope that we could all come together as believers and instead of beating a person down (even if we truly believe they are in the wrong and are going about it the wrong way), we could admonish one another in humility and Christlike love.

            As I said before, your heart for people that fall through the cracks is both obvious and commendable. But I still stand by what I said in my post to you. I would just change the tone in which I said it.

  13. Yep — got one of those exceptions! He got a lip ring cause he thinks it’s cool … my daughter has a tiny diamond stud nose ring but to me that’s not the same (nose rings are Biblical for one thing –read the story of Rebekah), it’s tiny, pretty and she can easily remove it and put in a clear spacer … sons lip ring is more noticeable… SIGH
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  14. I have to disagree with what you’re saying. I think most of the things that you say in this post are very much judging a book by it’s cover. Maybe I’m just taking it personally, but I think a lot of what you say is hurtful. I come from a strong family, I grew up in the church, and went to Christian school and was homeschooled and I have tattoos and my nose pierced. I am a mom, I am a follower of Jesus, and I am a functioning member of society. I like my tattoos and piercings and I like expressing myself in that way, it isn’t about being counter-cultural or “scary” for me. My husband serves our country and is an upstanding man from a strong family and he has many tattoos and has his tongue pierced (he takes it out for work). It doesn’t change who he is, he just likes the look of it. I don’t see any harm in that.

    While I’m sure there are some who use these things to make the world not pay attention to them and as an excuse to say the world hates them, I would disagree that it is the majority.

    To say that you won’t be hired is very old-fashioned thinking in my opinion. A teacher with a sleeve tattoo? Can easily wear a longsleeved shirt and her employer/students would never know. Piercings can be taken out for a more “professional” look if that is required. Not to mention a lot of places don’t mind these things anymore.

    It just makes me sad that some people see the church as a place that is not for people who are tattooed, dress “goth” or “emo” , or have piercings. Jesus and His grace are for EVERYONE and we are called to be welcoming and extend that grace to others. Not force everyone to look just like us.
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    • Katie, I’d just respond as I did to the other commenter–absolutely we are to show grace to others and not judge a book by its cover. Absolutely. But we’re talking about two different things. The simple fact is that people who dress this way give a negative impression, one that will lessen their chances in life.

      We thus have two choices: we can tell everyone else that they need to stop being judgmental and hire them anyway, or we can tell people that if you want to do well in life you should dress with respect.

      Neither of these things has anything to do with how we Christians should act on a personal level. It’s just about how we approach the problem of many teenagers and twenty-somethings creating a situation where they can’t mainstream and they can’t get jobs.

      Realistically society as a whole is not going to change. Older people will always be intimidated by those who choose to dress to look scary.

      Thus, the only practical solution is to show younger people that what they’re doing isn’t helping their future.

      But we still, as individual Christians, need to accept these people. That’s a totally separate issue.

  15. I think a really key point you made is that when a person surrounds themselves with ugliness (and yes, some tattoos and piercings are seriously ugly) there’s something wrong inside their heart. We were created to love beauty and be drawn to it, so I would argue that in certain contexts people who reject what is beautiful are rejecting who and what God has called us to be.

    I say this as a girl who has a big streak of blue in my bangs (it’s not teenage rebellion if you do in your 20s!) and would get her nose pierced in a heartbeat if she weren’t so squeamish :) It’s possible to do some of these things in a way that’s attractive. My personal caveat to blue hair is that if I heard a mom at church was having a hard time with her daughter because “Miss Natalie dyes her hair!” then I’d probably stop doing it. I don’t want a bit of fun to make it harder for a mom who isn’t into blue hair (or sends her kids to a school that isn’t).
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    • Yes, I think you’re right. When I’m picturing all this in my head I see people who are looking ugly–heavy black makeup, big stud things (or whatever you call them, like the things in the picture above), or just really scary.

      • would it make a difference if she were smiling? it would to me (and I realize that she is just posed for the picture). But I see plenty of people with piercings and gauges and tattoos etc. but they are smiling and engaging and not scary at all. People that walk around with a scowl on their face- well dressed or alternatively dressed, those I find scary.

  16. Stephanie says:

    I just had to comment and answer a couple of questions. I am a 49 year-old Christian wife, mother and grandmother. I always liked the look of a nose piercing with the little gold hoop, but when I was growing up it wasn’t something that white American girls did. When I was 44 I got my nose pierced. I had a tiny gold stud with a curved post, and I loved it. When I had a cold, I blew my nose just like anyone else did. I couldn’t feel that it was there unless I touched it. I had it for two years. I would probably still have it, but I had surgery a few years ago and was told I would have to remove it. In the 24 hours I had it out, the hole closed up. It left no mark or scar, you would never know it was there. For me it had no deep meaning, I wasn’t trying to make a statement, wear a costum or hide from anyone. It was just something I liked and wanted for myself, like any other piece of jewelry. But maybe that’s just me.

  17. “I think a really key point you made is that when a person surrounds themselves with ugliness (and yes, some tattoos and piercings are seriously ugly) there’s something wrong inside their heart. ”

    “Yes, I think you’re right. When I’m picturing all this in my head I see people who are looking ugly–heavy black makeup, big stud things (or whatever you call them, like the things in the picture above), or just really scary.”

    Are these really comments coming from a Christian point of view?

    Natalie, why be concerned with what another mother thinks? If your blue streak is an issue for her then she needs to examine her walk with God. Cowing to the opinions of those that aren’t mature in their walk with Christ only shows our children that they should follow the weak and immature Christians that surround them. Tattoos are permanent and a living journal of the life of the person that wears them. Are there ugly tattoos? Absolutely, but a tattoo/make-up, or jewelry shouldn’t cause any mature right thinking adult to feel uncomfortable.

    Shelia, who are we to judge what is beautiful or ugly? Many cultures around the world use make-up/tattoos/jewelry to show beauty. In the western world we may not agree, but there are those that do. Hence the modern primitive movement that has become so popular in today’s society.
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    • Your comment to Natalie seems to fly right in the face of what the apostle Paul tells us to do in Romans 14 and also in I Corinthians 10. You said “Cowing to the opinions of those that aren’t mature in their walk with Christ only shows our children that they should follow the weak and immature Christians that surround them,” but Paul says, “Make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love.” Romans 14:13b-15a
      Being judgmental goes both ways (although, for the record, I don’t think Shelia was being judgmental). Although Romans 14 and I Corinthians 10 is talking about eating and drinking, Romans 14:1 tells us to “accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment.”
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    • Why be concerned? Because I took vows to love and serve my church. Because every time a child is baptized I raise my hand in acknowledgement that I’m under obligation to help these parents raise their child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Practically speaking that means helping out with the nursery rotation, encouraging my young friends, and being sensitive to the needs of parents. I’m thinking particularly of one friend who has fibromyalgia and three kids – one very stubborn. If word got back to me that the oldest just would not quit about “but Miss Natalie does it!” I’d at least offer to stop dying my hair. Why make my friend’s life harder? To prove a point? Over hair dye? How about encouraging my young friend to honor her mother (and not get kicked out of school) and offering to forgo the pleasures of blue hair along with her?

      And for the record my pastor thinks my blue hair is cool. This isn’t a question of whether or not it’s morally objectionable to dye my hair. It’s a matter of consideration.
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  18. I’ve read your blog for a long time, and honestly I’m disappointed. If we as Christians say “Oh, appearances don’t matter, love what’s inside” it’s incredibly hypocritical to then turn around and say, “Oh don’t get piercings and tattoos because they make you look scary and people will judge you.”

    People get body modification for different reasons. I got my 4 piercings (not ears) because my husband finds them attractive. I have a tongue piercing, and honestly the actual piercing is not very painful, it’s rather like biting your tongue while you were eating. There is a week or two of painful healing and awkwardness as you adjust to it, but it’s a very fun piercing to have. It has several applications in the bedroom that my husband enjoys *wink* I have a clear ring for when I want it to be more discrete, and several other rings that have colors or words that can match holidays or whatever. My other 3 piercings are in private areas that only my husband and I see, and my tattoo is an infinity symbol in place of a wedding ring. My husband has a matching one.

    I think it’s important for people that choose to have body mods to maybe compensate for it in other areas so they don’t come across as “scary”. I dress modestly and wear my long hair in simple styles, perhaps if I dressed differently I might look scary but as it stands I do not.

    It always amuses me that many proper, white, overweight, “church ladies” have their ears pierced and no one says a word to them, yet somehow piercing the flesh in my tongue is different then them piercing the flesh of their ears.

    • But Rachel, it doesn’t sound like you look scary, so that’s not what my column is about! My column is about people who look scary, and are deliberately off-putting. It doesn’t sound like that suits you at all.

      Obviously the picture at the top of the post wasn’t enough, so here’s another that I just found:

      Again, I’m just saying that if people dress this way they are limiting their chances for success. I’m not saying that’s either good or bad; I’m just saying it’s TRUE. And so I’m asking people to think about that before they dress in a way to turn others off, you know?

    • I’m wondering why it is significant that these hypothetical proper church women are overweight? It sort of sounds like you might be judging them based on their appearance.

  19. I may have to stop following you after this one. you DO sound judgmental. Just because my husband and I have tattoos and piercing (even *gasp* gauges) we are scary? We are both in our 30s now and although we dont dress like we used to (punk rock still lives in our hearts) we don’t hide our tattoos and piercings. Now, this style is not for everyone, just like I think the denim skirts are barf-able, but lets not be mean. Hardly a Christ like attitude thats being displayed here and I am quite offended

    • I’m with you, I think this is a horrible representation of Christians, even though she states it’s not a “Christian” blog.
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      • I didn’t say it wasn’t a Christian blog; I said the column isn’t Christian. It appears in secular newspapers, and I’m specifically hired not to write a “Christian” column. I’m just a columnist.

        • But you are a CHRISTIAN, and THAT is well known. Your actions and words should reflect it. That is the point.
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          • What is not Christian about telling young people that I want them to succeed, but that the way that they dress and the way that they look may seriously hinder that? And I don’t want that to happen, because I don’t want people stuck and unable to move up in life?

            You seem to disagree with the basic premise: that it’s possible for someone to deliberately dress scary. That’s not judgmental to say; just go to any mall and look, and then ask some people over 50 how they feel about those teens. They will say that they are scared. I’m not questioning their hearts or their motives; I’m worried that they won’t do well in life. I think we disagree with the basic meaning of the word judgmental.

    • IS that a Christ like attitude? To stop following someone just because you disagree? ….
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    • Sooo … you’re reading a blog post that say people are judged for the way they present themselves and you don’t like it because you feel judged for the way you present yourself? Sounds like you’re proving the premise.

  20. I really have to disagree with the way that you presume to know the reasons why these people dress/adorn themselves the way they do. You say dress “appropriately” but that is a subjective term. What you may find appropriate may not be the same for everyone else. Maybe you wear dress pants to church but there are many people who would find that highly inappropriate. You have your ears pierced, what part of the Bible says piercing ears is acceptable behavior but piercing noses, well that is just inappropriate. Your personal opinion of what is appropriate and what isn’t, is not equal to God’s law. We need to be more concerned with the heart behind people’s actions and stop focusing so much on specific actions. This is one area, among many others, that the heart behind the action cannot be clearly linked to sin and we should not be trying to judge these kinds of issues. If these are non-christians we are talking about, well we shouldn’t have expectations for them period because they are just doing what comes natural, if these are christians you are addressing lets leave room for people to serve God using the unique personality and style that God has gifted them with. Thankfully, not all people are as judgemental as you make them out to be because I happen to work at a state school and it is perfectly possible to be hired to work with children and have many tattoos.

  21. I have to disagree. I don’t have tatoos but used to have gauged ears. I took them out because I wanted to wear real earrings but i do want them back. I will say that there are a small group of people that dress this way and are very hurt people trying to push people away. My heart breaks for those people and pray for them to see God’s true heart for them.

    However, I think your way of lumping everyone with tatoos and piercings is EXTREMLY offensive. I think it doens’t matter if people get jobs, unless YOU are the one hiring them. The way people dress for a job interview matters weather they have tatoos/piercings or not. Any woman wearing a low cut shirt probably won’t get the job, or will depending on the company.

    The way the culture is moving, it deifnately will not matter in 10 years if people have tatoos. It’s such an old, closed minded way of thinking that is a small minority of how people think. People with tatoos/piercings will keep getting older and hiring people without discrimination. And the people who do hold grudges towards people will keep getting older and eventually retire. wether you agree with me or not, you have to agree that the “youger generation” will be/are running successful businesses.

    Not everyone had a perfect background and are proud of their current ink. What about those people? Should we not hire people who have made mistakes?

  22. I don’t typically comment on your blog, I read it most days, and have learned so much and really enjoy reading most things that you write. My husband is deployed, and reading your blog has shown me how to better love him, even with him half a world a way.
    I do, somewhat disagree with you on this subject though. Not completely, because I agree that someone coming to an interview in all black make-up, black hair, tons of peircings and tattoos from head to toe would have a hard time getting a job. All of those together, yes, could be a problem. But in my experience, one or two of those things will not keep a person from a job. I’ve held a steady job since I was 17(am now 26) only leaving a job because of graduation or moving cities. In college, I dyed my hair black and red, had 7 peircings in my ears and wore a lot of black make up, excluding black lipstick and worked as a preschool teacher to help put myself through nursing school. Since graduation, I’ve gotten 2 more tattoos, to make a total of three, have gotten my nose peirced, at the same time my hair did go back to my natural color b/c dying it was too much upkeep. With that nose ring and one of the tattoos showing from time to time, I’ve worked 3 differnt nursing jobs, never having an employer, patient, or patient’s family complaining. I think that 10 years ago, my peircings and tattoos would have been a problem in the work place, but now, neither of them have ever caused me a problem and my tattoo which has Jerimiah 29:11 in it has sparked conversation for me to share the gospel.

  23. I am a Registered Nurse. Every hospital and nursing home I’ve ever worked in does not allow it’s employees to have facial piercings other than ears and no visible tattoos. My coworker has to cover her tattoos on her biceps(her shirts do not cover them completely) prior to each shift. We are also not permitted to have unnatural hair colors…so no pink, blue or red(bright red) hair color for me :(

    I’m also fairly certain that NO MATTER how qualified the candidate was, if she showed up in an interview looking like the goth woman in the link Sheila provided, she would NOT be hired. Is it right? No…maybe she’s the most qualified for the job but based on how she presented herself(heavy makeup, visible facial piercing) I can pretty well guarantee that no hospital would hire her looking like that.

    • Exactly. The majority of work places have dress codes that include no visible tattoos, no visible piercings other than one in each ear, etc. As Sheila said, it’s not an issue of whether or not that should be the case, because it IS the case. Tattoos and gratuitous piercings are not professional, and the great majority of professionals do not want their employees to have them.

      I don’t have a problem with things like that on a personal level, other than that getting a lot of tattoos is not healthy for your skin (your skin is an organ, after all). But it doesn’t matter what I think personally, because I’m not an hr person looking to fill a job. Employers want to hire professionals who are clean cut and who dress in modest, business attire. You’re saying it doesn’t matter – well, it doesn’t matter to you. To a potential employer, it does. My dad AND mom have been in professional positions where they did the hiring and firing for years, and they have both said that if someone came in to an interview – or even just came in to drop off a resume and/or application – dressed in a way that was not clean cut, or that was unprofessional in any way, they would automatically throw out their resume and/or application. Keep that in mind – the candidates had to look professional at all times, not just for the interview.
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  24. Lorraine Taylor says:

    Way too much attention on some things that don’t even matter. Obviously those who are so opposed to a nose ring have never lived in India , having a nose ring is just culture, in the same way as it was in the Old Testament. Personally I would have one if I had a smaller nose.

    I say less talk and more love, actually more opening our doors to embrace a world that needs the love of Jesus. I know the article wasn’t all about this but that is the way the banter has gone, so again I say, less talk and more ‘don’t try to impress others but think of others as better than yourselves’. That takes care of all the types of people, those who dress to be so different and those who think they are dressing the right ‘Christian’ way. It isn’t about all of that it is about seeing others as better than ourselves and acting accordingly.

    • But Lorraine, you know me. You know I don’t think like that. But we are not IN India, and if someone shows up for a job interview with multiple piercings and with scary tattoos, do you not think they will be at a disadvantage? And do you not think that this may perhaps not be a good idea? I’m not talking about the occasional piercing; I’m talking about the whole persona that tries to look off-putting (and there are certain fashion trends which certainly try to do that).

      Lorraine, you KNOW that Keith and I reach out to people of all cultures. You KNOW that about me. Are you, too, going to miss the point of this column and start questioning my approach to faith?

      This is the first time that you’ve ever commented here, and I guess I just would have appreciated at least a little bit of encouragement, especially because we’re in ministry together.

      I’m sorry if this sounds bitter, but it’s coming from this.

      • “But Lorraine, you know me. You know I don’t think like that. But we are not IN India, and if someone shows up for a job interview with multiple piercings and with scary tattoos, do you not think they will be at a disadvantage?”

        Sheila, I have decided to pray that you will be open to seeing your words as they appear. You keep saying you aren’t judgmental and people are putting words it your mouth…but that is not the case. These are your words.

        What is a “scary” tattoo? Is it one that is not Sheila approved? What about a tattoo of a rose with someone’s mother’s name who passed of cancer? Is that “scary” because it’s not your norm, or is it acceptable? Like where you stated that a nose ring is ok, but then stated that we aren’t in India. Your statements are beginning to contradict themselves.

        What is NOT ok with you is just that, not ok with YOU. It is NOT what the rest of the world thinks, it is your opinion. You are fully entitled to your opinion, yet it is still judgmental and you should either own up to it, as you stated here “But Lorraine, you know me. You know I don’t think like that.” If you want to stick to your guns, do it…if you really want to think like that, do it, but make no mistake it is your own judgement of what is “scary” or “ugly” – both words YOU used.
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        • Melissa, it isn’t about me to define scary tattoos! What I think is scary is not necessarily what others will think is scary. I’m saying that employers will judge a tattoo scary irregardless. Do you honestly not think that? Do you honestly not think that employers will take how someone looks into account? I don’t understand why this is a “faith” issue, and that’s why I’m being so passionate about it.

          I have many young friends with tattoos and piercings and dyed hair, and they are welcome in my house and it’s no problem at all for me personally. But it WILL be a problem when they try to get a job. That’s not a faith issue; that’s an employment issue.

          And what bothers me is that people are turning something that is common sense about the employment market into something that is a faith issue, and you’re questioning my faith about it.

          We’ve had employers on this thread already say that they take people’s tattoos and piercings into account. So it DOES happen. And that is all that I am saying. I don’t know why you need to make it into a faith issue when it’s not.

        • Melissa,

          It’s fine for you to have your opinion. It’s fine for Shelia to have hers. Contention is of the devil. Maybe it’s time to agree to disagree and move on.

      • Lorraine Taylor says:

        Hi Sheila, wow, I really am sorry. I was not putting you down, I was responding to the ongoing banter. You are right, I have never commented, I have read many of the articles and I have wanted to reply but thought better of it. I do know that you guys do reach out as do we, my response wasn’t about that.

        My response was to the ongoing banter which was getting very judgemental and negative, like comments about the nose ring reminding someone of a ring in a pigs nose.

        So Sheila what I am talking about is how the banter has become quite negative.

      • Christine C. says:

        You’ve said this several times in this thread, and I just have to ask– how do you know if someone has decided to get tattoos or piercings or wear makeup just to look off-putting? I think that if you asked the woman in the picture you keep linking to, she’d tell you that she thinks she looks quite beautiful (and I would agree!) How do you know these people’s motivations?

        • Christine, I think people know when they are deliberately dressing in such a way as to be counter-cultural in a negative way. Ask anyone if heavy black makeup is friendly and approachable or not, and people will tell you that it isn’t. It has nothing to do with whether it’s “beautiful” or not, and I agree, that girl in that picture is beautiful. But it is also sending a statement, and, I would argue, that is why she is dressing like that. We all make statements by the way we dress, whether we like it or not. But that is part of living in a society.

  25. As a business owner, I wholeheartedly agree with your column. Are these people that I would be friends with? Probably. Would I hire them? Absolutely Not! After all, I’m in business to make money. My customers respond to the image that I and my employees portray. I wouldn’t have a business if my customers didn’t have confidence in me and my staff. When I hire, I often look at the social media profiles of applicants before calling people in for interviews. If too many piercings, tattoos, etc. are visible in their social profile pictures those applications are automatically disqualified. That’s the way the world works! Most of my business colleagues feel the same way. People can call you judgmental if they want to, but you have spoken the truth. Keep it up!

  26. As a teacher in my district, we have to cover tattoos, only ‘natural’ hair color, no facial piercings., etc. It may be wrong.. it may be right… who knows? The point is (And I think certain tattoos are beautiful and would love a nose stud), Sheila is right. Physical appearance DOES affect job prospects. Should it? Probably not. But it does. A lawyer without facial piercings would probably become a judge quicker than someone with them. Right now, it’s just the way it seems to be.

    I don’t think that’s judgmental. Maybe one person’s *scary* isn’t the same thing as someone’s else’s. Maybe your ‘scary’ is preppy with a polo lol — the point is appearance does affect how you feel about someone INITIALLY– your first impression (that may change over time when you get to know them, but an employer isn’t going to go that far I don’t think).

    Things can always change.
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  27. Hello Sheila; I read this post this morning and thought you wrote a very good article. After reading this post (http://tolovehonorandvacuum.com/2012/10/bloggers-are-people-too/) this afternoon I decided to come back and see what the fire storm was all about. I re-read the article and still think it is very good and NON JUDGMENTAL! First of all many people believe having a conservative point of view (not just in politics, but personally) is judgmental. So right off the bat you will offend some of the people that read your blog. Secondly, you never said that it was right; you just stated a fact, Appearances Matter. They have mattered all through history and they will continue to matter till the end of time. We all make judgments because of appearances and we are all judged buy them. It’s not right, but it’s a fact. It’s hard to look professional when someone has multiple piercings or tattoos. They may be wonderful people, may be very qualified for the job, but they don’t always give the right impression for the work place.
    Good jobs are harder to find and employers have a lot of choices, it’s only right to admit the truth. If you have a lot of “art” or if you look “scary” you are hurting your chances. A few probably wouldn’t be a turn off, but there are extremes in all things, denying that doesn’t change anything.

  28. Beauty and attractiveness (or the converse) is in the eye of the beholder, and is subjective. As a Christian, it doesn’t and shouldn’t matter, but in society, like it or not, it does matter. Because we do live in a judgmental culture, and looks are everything (just scan the grocery checkout lane for what’s “attractive” on those magazines), there are some things that are acceptable by the masses in general, and there are some things that are just not without regard to fairness. So, those with piercings, tats, gauges, and the like? Great for you. However, you better be confident enough to wear it well and not be surprised when opportunities pass you by– no matter how *unfair* that feels. It’s reality, even if it’s not right. We won’t see true acceptance this side of heaven, I’m afraid.

    Just because the opinion feels harsh to some, doesn’t make it wrong. After all, it is an opinion (defined as: “a personal view, attitude, or appraisal,” the second and most appropriate definition to apply here from Dictionary.com.)

    Sheila, you are spot on with this post. Praying for you. :)

  29. In my high school there was a boy who wore a backwards baseball cap and always had his discman in his ears and you could hear the loud music when you walked by. You know the type. The “bad boy” type. He was cute so I decided to try to get to know him a bit more. After watching him for a couple of days I realized that he had a “shut out the world” attitude. So I moved on. He wanted to shut out the world so he built up his wall with through his appearance and attitude. I judged him and I came to the exact conclusion that he wanted me to come to: that he wasn’t worth the hassle to get to know.

    Fast forward nearly two years later and a bunch of us from school went to a convention together. We ended up sitting next to eachother at a concert and, during this concert, God yelled into my ear that I was going to marry this boy! It was so powerful that I had to sit down because I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. Fast forward another two years and we got married. Been married now for 8 years.

    He didn’t have tattoos or piercings, but he had a “screw the world” attitude. And his attitude and appearence did exactly what he wanted it to do: society left him alone. So, until he was ready to drop that attitude, he wasn’t ready to get involved in the world and society.

    When I read this article (and the comments following it) the biggest thing that I walked away with is that appareances matter. First impressions count. Especially in the work place.

    Another stance from an employer: If you come to me for a job interview and you show up with multiple piercings and nasty tattoos, you are going to have to work a lot harder to convince me that you have a positive attitude and the gentle demeanour required to do the job. When you got those flaming skulls tattooed on your biceps you were not thinking “here’s a cute tattoo to bring me some happiness and peace.” As an employer, you’ll need to prove to me that you have moved past that time in your life when you felt the need to make a statement by tattooing flaming corpses on your body. Also, if you feel you need to seriously alter your appearances then I’m going to wonder why. If you can’t accept yourself for who you are, how is the world supposed to accept the real you underneath that “scary” exterior? So fact: most employers would rather higher someone who is clean cut and professional in appearance. FACT. Not opinion, not judgement.

    We won’t even go into trying to explain to my son why a person feels the need to put scary metal spikes into their body to contort it into unnatural shapes while I try to explain to him that his body is a temple of God!

    Summary of my thoughts: If you have a “screw the world” attitude and you express that through your appearance and attitude then don’t be surprised if the world screws you.
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  30. Just a quick comment to say I didn’t think your column came across as judgmental at all! I work in retail and absolutely agree that appearance matters to employers. Whether or not it should, or what things should be allowed or not is irrelevant to the point you were making. I see no reason not to encourage people to think about the message their appearance is sending to others. Yes, it would be great if everyone gave people the chance to explain why they look the way they do, but I agree with you, that it just isn’t going to be the case. First impressions do matter and it’s worth thinking about!

  31. In my former career, (I used to work at Presqu’ile, Sheila!) I hired up to 15 students every summer and I can testify to the truth of Sheila’s statement. In a customer service industry, employers don’t want to hire people that appear/act unapproachable. It is of utmost importance that customers can approach and interact with employees comfortably in order to have a satisfying and meaningful experience. Positive comments received from our customers always had to do with great customer service and employees were always praised by name!
    I used to work for the government and still do volunteer to interview students for the same organization. These students are constantly in the public eye and interact with customers all day long. One interview question always asked is “our staff are expected to maintain a certain level of personal appearance. Are you comfortable wearing a uniform and refraining from excessive displays of personal style (eg nose rings)?” This made it very clear that they were going to have to conform in order to be hired! Do you know that no one ever said “no!” Of course not, they really wanted the job! I hired kids with bingo dabber red hair, dread locks, nose rings, tatoos, you name it. But when they were on the job, interacting with the public, they wore their uniforms properly, hid their hair in a hat, took out their nose ring and wore a bandage over their tattoo. Why? Because these expressions of personality become barriers to communication when it comes to interacting with the public. Like it or not, Christian or not, these things make most people uncomfortable and some people engage in these “excessive” displays in order to push people away. Take wearing sunglasses for instance. Sure, when you work outside, they are a necessity. But when you need to talk to a customer, the rule was, you had to take them off so you could make eye contact – a common courtesy. Think about it: do you ever wear sunglasses to appear cool, or avoid people’s eyes? Exactly!
    In my experience being the interviewer, you have a set of questions you ask that test an interviewee’s knowledge and experience, but at the end of an interview, the committee always talks about what sort of impression was given off by the applicant and how well they would fit into the organization. There are no marks given for style, but inappropriate attire and a bad attitude are never flattering!
    Now I am a teacher, and I’d so like to school my students on how to succeed in a job interview! I’ve seen way too many poorly written resumes, badly executed interviews and inappropriately dressed teens. But part of me thinks, sometimes experience is the best teacher. They might get it after they fail to get a job!

    • Thank you, Janine. That is exactly what I was trying to say.

      We were at Presqu’ile just last week! I saw a pied-billed grebe for the first time (we’re really getting into birding!). So excited.

  32. Wow, this post sure stirred up some controversy! I skimmed a lot of the posts above and I will try not to be incendiary in my reply and also not repeat what someone else has said too much.
    I’m glad I’m not the only one who was a little taken aback. I’ve seen some great advice on your blog and think there is wisdom in your writing.
    However, as some others have said, I think you will find that this post will not be well received in the secular world and increasingly in Christian circles as well.

    As several people have said, you are entitled to your opinion on this issue, but I also think many people will feel judged by this post (as they clearly have been) which is probably not what you intended. I find your implication that most people with body modifications are low income or hurting in some way to be a little condescending. It makes it sound like, “those of us from good homes would never do such a thing” which is likely not what you intended but never the less how this comes across, I believe, and I think that’s why some people are saying they find you to be judgmental on this topic. It just came off a little us vs. them, which is hurtful.

    As a writer myself on controversial topics (you could say I’m a Christian middle-of-the-road Democrat and an aspiring cultural ambassador between Americans the the Middle East, which is hardly popular right now), my mom has really been encouraging me to be as humble as possible, even self-deprecating, as I try and share my opinions on things that a lot of people disagree with, especially in Christian circles (when it comes to politics, at least). Difficult to do when you have a strong belief, but makes it easier on your audience!

    I’m sure you know some great people with “scary” modifications, and it might help if you had given some examples like that to indicate that you know that someone’s choices on piercings don’t always reflect a blackened soul somehow.

    I completely agree that in some industries, being pierced or tatted will make it more difficult to get a job, and that’s something that you have to be aware of if you choose any form of body modification. But I also think there’s a shift in culture here that isn’t about “scaring people” or trying to rebel.

    This issue reminds me of when woman first began wearing pants – at the time, it was very rebellious, controversial and even insulting to some people, but over time it became a very normal part of our culture. I think body modification is in that phase, a lot of people still find it ugly, but a lot of other people consider it very mainstream now.

    I also find some flawed logic in justifying nose rings with the story of Rebekah. That is a cultural reference, not a go-sign for all time on the nose ring. Similarly, while I understand that some people don’t have the best motives behind body modification, I don’t think it’s fair to use God, the Bible or Christianity as a weapon against body modification either (not claiming that you were in this post, but as others have said, you are a witness!). I think this whole issue is very contextual as far as time period and where you live on earth. My great grandma (in her 80s) believes nose rings are a sign of prostitution, where as in parts of India, nose rings symbolize that you are married. It’s a matter of perspective.

    My husband and I are both artists (as well as parents :)), which I think makes us both attracted to body modifications. I gauged my ears at one point, have 5 holes in my ears, and have the bridge of my nose pierced. My husband doesn’t have any piercings because his place of work has a strict dress code, down to “no hair touching the ear”. I’ve been dying my hair since I was 12 and I am a believing daughter of missionaries from a middle class family. Neither my husband or I have tattoos at this point, but at least in my case, it’s because I haven’t been able to settle on one, because I think they can be beautiful!

    Our moms aren’t a huge fan of the piercings, but my mom especially has decided that isn’t a hill she wants to die on. My best friend’s mom asked me to take out my nose-bridge piercing for her daughter’s wedding, which made me a little sad, but I would have been willing to do it had she given me more notice. I consider myself to be pretty clean cut and very not scary, and it’s a bummer if people aren’t willing to approach me because they assume I am scary based on my piercings. In fact, my nose piercing has generated a lot of friendly conversations (mainly from check-out clerks at my local grocery store) that I wouldn’t have had otherwise! People are very curious because it’s an unusual one, and it’s an easy ice breaker topic. I get strangers commenting all the time on how much they like it. :) I consider that an opportunity to witness, just by being smiley!, that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

    Anyway, hope that gives you an un-angry perspective from someone who disagrees with you!

  33. Like it or not, everything we do invites judgment. Lots of people make a good living figuring out what those judgments are. But they call it demographics.

    There are socio-economic similarities among the majority of Lexus owners, for example, and those are different than the SE similarities among people who own Ford trucks. Or who bike instead of drive. Same goes for people who have piercings, or highlights, or tatoos, or are gang members, or are nurses. Women who wear goth makeup or women who look like they belong in a Chanel ad. Marketing departments make good use of this information on a daily basis! Ever wonder why there are so many beer, truck and Victoria’s Secret commercials during the Super Bowl and not during Y&R? Or why for-profit colleges and bail bondsmen advertise during Judge Judy and not Law & Order? This is why.

    In addition, the general population has perceptions of people who exhibit specific behaviors or actions. Sometimes those perceptions are in line with reality, sometimes they are not. But whether the perceptions are right or wrong, there they are. These are well documented, too.

    Something people tend to misunderstand it that social science (statistics) studies groups of people – not individuals. If 90% of women in my city carry credit card debt, that doesn’t mean I do. Saying a group of people is seen a certain way doesn’t mean that each person who participates in that behavior/activity IS that way. Sheila quite clearly understands this – some of the commenters clearly don’t.

    It’s just ridiculous to say that acknowledging these societal “norms” (so called because the majority of a given society follows them) is being judgmental, and even more so to condemn a person’s Christian witness for the same.

  34. Great post, Sheila. Call it like you see it and shake off the haters. Don’t quit blogging. You’re doing great work for the kingdom!

  35. As a guy, my first thought on seeing a woman with a facial piercing is, what a zit! Then, after I see it’s a piercing, why would she want to abuse her face like that?
    The other thing is, I believe, biblical history shows us that the Israelites did not wear piercings and tattoos until they were in Egypt. It was only during their time in the wilderness that nose rings and earrings were mentioned. It was a fashion picked up from the pagan culture they were in at the time. Tattoos were often applied to show ones affiliation to a cult/religion during that era and Leviticus admonishes us to not put tattoos in our bodies as we belong to Him.
    I’m not antipiercing as there is such a narrow variety of earrings in clip on’s. it would definitely make my gift shopping more difficult.

    • actually they did — check out the story of Eleazar and Rebekah (the first thing he does after she waters his camels is put a bracelet on her wrist and a ring in her nose – one has to wonder if she already had it pierced or did he pierce it right then? ok I wonder :) ) …
      Holly recently posted…Warrior Prayers … praying for your sonsMy Profile

      • Gen.24:22 (KJV)….a golden earring of half a shekel weight. ( Kind of heavy for a nose.)
        Gen.24:30 (KJV) and it came to pass, when he saw the earring and the bracelets…

        I note that the Amplified says earring or nose ring but also the KJV commentator suggests a jewel for the forehead. Also, there is no mention of piercing for the earring, just that Eleazar gave them, the earring and the bracelets, to her and that Laban saw them. Also, note that some ear fashions were draped over the ear. I concede to use of earrings by Israelites prior to Egypt. Good catch! Thank you.

        • I’m not so sure about piercings being fashion picked up from the pagan culture they were in at the time in Egypt. In Exodus 21, when they are in the wilderness, God commands the piercing of the ears of the servants who choose to stay with their master even after their debt is repayed. If it was an Egyptian cultural practice before this, it was one that God chose to make into law for his people.

  36. Just read all of the comments.

    Wow. Given the emotional energy behind so many accusations of “judging”, there appears to be a lot of angry people out there who have been treated differently due to their tattoos and piercings, thus validating Sheila’s point: you do so at your own peril.

    Look folks, appearances matter in life, they just do.

    Should they? Doesn’t matter, they just do.

    Appearance is a form of communication and businesses take a very strong interest in what they are communicating to customers. Businesses spend a lot of money on marketing and branding efforts to create a specific image for the company in the hopes of attracting paying customers. These businesses then spend more money hiring and training employees to represent the brand.

    So if you want a job, you need to conform to whatever image the company is trying to convey, doing otherwise just limits your employment opportunities.

    Here is a real-world example from my family that demonstrates the truth of Sheila’s column.

    My sister-in-law works for a large company. One person in her department is a great employee who wants to be promoted, which would mean working face-to-face with clients/vendors in a very professional, suit and tie environment.

    Unfortunately, at some point in her life, the employee thought it would be a good idea to get tattoos on her hands and fingers.

    The end result is this, the employee does a great job in her current duties, but she will never be promoted because of the tattoos. The company is very image conscious and simply won’t have visibly tattooed employees working with customers and vendors. Had this employee opted for tattoos that could easily be covered by normal business attire, then she would have been promoted long ago.

    Fair? Nope.

    Reality? Yep.

    Life isn’t fair, it never has been and never will be, but life does have some rules that, when followed, make life a bit easier and more financially rewarding. For many companies, the rules are no visible tattoos or large/unique piercings.

    • AMEN. I could not agree more with this comment.

      This is an incredibly emotionally charged issue, mostly because everyone with tattoos or piercings is bound to disagree because they are an exception somehow.

      Let’s get something straight though:
      I enjoy really good tattoos. I enjoy fun piercings (though like Sheila, I think some are PURELY shock value and definitely “scary” looking). I believe there are such things as tasteful tattoos and piercings and tasteful placements of tattoos and piercings. These are all things established by culture, not explicitly in the Bible.

      But there is a reason I don’t have tattoos and currently only have my ears pierced: I have a professional degree and need to be taken seriously, respected, and come across as credible.

      What I am NOT SAYING is that you can’t have tattoos and be credible. What I AM saying is that when you get visible tattoos (hands, face, neck, upper chest, etc.) you are creating a certain image and with that image comes consequences that you will face. I’m glad you like your permanent body art, that’s great. I think that there is a lot of liberty in this area… you have the freedom to get tattoos and piercings. But in the end, as much as we proclaim that we don’t care what anyone things of us, it actually DOES matter how people judge you and what they think of you.

      I have 2 friends I think of immediately when this comes up… one has a giant (beautiful) tattoo that covers her entire chest, neck, and shoulders. It’s beautiful. It is also impossible to hide. The other has about 15 facial piercings, and 3 visible chest piercings (sternum and 2 clavicle piercings). Guess what? Nobody takes them seriously. People are scared of them. Both of them are intelligent women, but I do wonder if they ever regret making those choices considering both have struggled getting and keeping jobs or even making friends!

      People WILL judge you for your visible body modifications. They WILL. This is not a question of if, or should they… they WILL. If you are willing to take the consequences for that (be it social, economic, professional, etc.) then by all means do what you want. But it drives me crazy that people defend their choices by saying they can’t be judged, or that they shouldn’t be kept from professional advancement or what have you. You will need to accept the logical consequences of your actions, or avoid them by practicing restraint in your “freedom.” And sometimes in the long run, it’s better to avoid those consequences (and save the time, effort, and MONEY).
      And I think that’s what Sheila was pointing out.

  37. I totally understand what you are saying here but I also think it could be easily misunderstood. Employers dictate dress codes and since tattoos and piercings are unprotected choices (vs. race, religion, gender, etc) then it is well within their rights to not hire those who may have them. And lots of employers do prefer to not hire those who have tats or piercings.

    However, I thought it might be interesting to point out that nose rings specifically are mentioned a few times in the bible and most always as a sign of commitment in unity and marriage. The word used is ??????????? and it means “ornament for the nose.” Of note is that it is worn in the left nostril.

    In Isaiah 3 God takes away the nose rings (among other things) of women as punishment for immoral behavior.

    God mentions adorning the bride of Christ (Israel) with a nose ring (Ezekiel 16:12). Also, in biblical times it was common to give the bride the gift of a nose ring as it is mentioned in Genesis 24. A quick study of early history will show that the giving of a nose ring was was a commitment to marry. From biblical times it was then carried on to other countries and continues to this day. Only in westernized countries did we see a shift (in the 60s & 70s) where it began to be used as a way to rebel or fit into a punk/grunge style culture.

    Just thought I’d throw that out there. And as far as the question about the hole closing up, yes, it does. I had a nose ring. There are days when I miss it greatly. I don’t think anything made me feel more feminine than having that small jewel on my nose. It was hard to maintain though so I let it close. No one even knows it was ever there.

    love ya, girl! :)
    Amy Bayliss recently posted…What is your cleaning style?My Profile

  38. CoffeeCrazed says:

    I am not opposed to piercings, but have an absolute preference against some of the more extreme ones. However, this post reminded me of lyrics of an obscure-ish song by the Canadian band, The Pursuit of Happiness.

    “there’s no ring on her finger, no man can tie her down
    But she wears one in her nose so he can pull her around”

  39. This isn’t me commenting–this is an email that I received from a friend who wanted it published anonymously, since she’s known on this site. So here’s what she writes:

    (NOTE: I’m going to add my perspective here. I don’t claim to be right; I’m not saying anyone else is wrong. I engage in dialogue so I can learn from others. I often write comments to blogs to explore my own thinking and have it stretched. Please read in that spirit!)

    I’ve got a whole host of people judging me that I am horrified with my daughter’s multiple ear/cartiledge piercings and all the tattoos that suddenly showed up on her arms, back, and chest. (I’m horrified at the sight of the piercings and tattoos, NOT by my daughter.)

    Yes, she’s a senior art major. No, that doesn’t mean that I expected all this “self-expression.” I still can’t look at her back/shoulders/neck without wanting to cry. (I recognize that this is MY issue, not hers.)

    I heard Dr. David Goleman — author of Emotional Intelligence an Social Intelligence — speak this summer. He cited several studies that helped me understand my knee-jerk reactions to piercings and tattoos. (I’m talking about my immediate, emotional reactions…not my long-term thoughts and choices.)

    We are hard-wired for empathy. When two people are put in a room together, both hooked up to brain scans, and then one is injured, BOTH of their brains light up in the areas that EXPERIENCE pain. Not one of them lighting up in the experience area and the other in some sort of “sympathetic observer” area. Both light up as EXPERIENCING it.

    Yes, I am initially scared by people who have all sorts of piercings because at first glance it looks like they have been injured! And especially as a mother, whose job it’s been to keep my own children FROM injury, it hurts — at a brain response level — to see metal shoved where our society used to say it doesn’t belong. My instinctive response is alarm and panic. But especially where I live in California, to display any response whatsoever is to be “intolerant” and “uptight.” I have to fight against a natural urge to say, “What happened? Are you okay?”

    I’ve been thinking I am the only one still this “old fashioned.” It’s so easy for kids today to take “bold” action and make “bold” statements about expressing themselves and not being judged. In the case of my daughter, I’d be less concerned if she had invested her time, energy, and money to get a driver’s license, car, and real job FIRST. I believe you’re right: some jobs she may want are likely to be closed to her, partly because of all of her “body art” and also because of her attitude that she can do whatever she wants and nobody has the right to react.

  40. Sheila,
    I read your blog fairly regularly but rarely comment. To be honest, I don’t often click over on the Friday column days as the topic usually doesn’t grab me as something relevant to my family or marriage. Reading your following post though, “Bloggers are People Too” caused me to click over out of curiosity of what all the fuss is about.

    I’d just like to add one word of observation here. While your article, however pointed and opinionated, did not strike me as being judgemental, I did cringe a bit when I read your reply to Heather,Oh, those ear stretcher things just make me nauseous. I can’t even look!” The tone of that sentence gave me the impression of a conversation that is starting to veer toward gossip/cattiness. A reader who sports one of those may have heard ***I*** am gross and ugly. I know that wasn’t your intent, but I wanted to encourage you that as the host of a blog that tackles topics that bring out emotion in people, you might triple check your responses to comments for words or even punctuation that can further that emotional response in your readers. Am I making any sense? I want to be clear that I have the utmost respect and admiration for the wisdom and maturity that you show in your blog posts. But that response (as well as a couple others) set off that little alarm in my heart that said “This is going to go down hill fast.”

    I”m sharing these thoughts simply to encourage you to pray and ask God to show you if there were others ways you could have steered the conversation away from the tone it was starting to take by those adding their own “my ____ has xyz and I think it’s awful.” type statements.

    Blessings to you Sheila!

  41. After reading your “I’m weary” post, I had to see what caused the fireworks. I agree with a commenter – those with chips on their shoulders speak the longest and the loudest. I have several piercings and am waiting for the perfect design for my soon-to-be tattoo. My son dressed “gangster” for years, even though he’s mellow and an honor student. My husband is a Wranglers and boots kind of guy. My husband and I have lived in Wyoming most of our lives. Is it “Christian” that people might judge my son based on dress alone? Of course not. Is it part of life and OUR culture? Absolutely. Sheila was not talking about India or biblical dress and culture as some have pointed out. She was making a valid statement out of concern and wisdom based on fact. My son knew that he had to act above reproach if he chose to dress in gangster attire, because that is the first impression he gives. It wasn’t a real issue here, because he’s known in our community and his style didn’t offend or bother most.

    However, he and a friend (same style) went to a movie theater in a town in Colorado and were approached and threatened by some actual gang members – BECAUSE OF THEIR DRESS. Like it or not, culture matters. My husband and I have gone rounds because of our son’s former attire, strictly based on why some commenters are in an uproar. Like it or not (which I don’t but my husband was right on), human nature bases it’s first impression on visual, which is of course based on biases of our own preferences. That is the world we live in.

    Sheila, Keep Calm and Carry On. (Not my own, but ya know…)

  42. Christine C. says:

    I don’t know if anyone else has said it already, but overweight people and people who are conventionally unattractive, and women who are “too attractive” all have difficulties getting jobs, too, because of our image-obsessed culture. I don’t think that for a minute that you would condone an employer discriminating against a qualified candidate because they weren’t attractive enough, or because they were too attractive. There’s also lots of racism in employment, and discrimination against GLBTQ folks. Is that okay? Why are you defending the dominant culture when it goes against the very heart of the way things should be? We really shouldn’t judge people by their outward appearances; it’s not okay that our society allows and condones it. Christ calls us to be counter-cultural, not to bow down to the influences of the world!

    I think that your motives were right with this post, but I have to question your technique. I don’t think that it’s at all helpful to tell people that certain choices of self-adornment are ugly and scary, and that if they ever want to get a job, they have to change. I’ve seen tons of heavily tattooed and pierced people working jobs! There aren’t a ton of bank managers and CEOs of MNCs in there, but there are lots of small business owners who lead very fulfilling lives.

    I’d also like to say that I have experienced more kindness and compassion from the very people you rail against than from more conventional-looking people. If I need to borrow bus fare or make an emergency phone call, I know that I have a far better chance at getting help from the folks at the anarchist bookstore than I will at the upscale boutique!

    • Christine, I think you’ve just made my point. You said that there aren’t bank managers there, and that’s true, because if you want to succeed at most jobs, there is an “appearance code”.

      As for obesity, yes, the obese are often discriminated against, and that is wrong. But the difference is that obesity is not something that is easily chosen or easily changed (yes, behaviour plays a part, but for many it’s a small part, depending on genetics, and as anyone who has ever tried to lose weight knows, it’s not easy). On the other hand, excessive piercings and tattoos and heavy goth makeup are things that are deliberately chosen. They are chosen to make a statement; obesity is not. So they are not the same thing.

      I think that we are letting people off the hook a little here, saying that what people pierce shouldn’t affect anyone else. I’d just point to the anonymous comment that I left under my name above which addresses this well.

      • Christine C. says:

        I don’t think that anyone would say that the only way to be successful is to be a bank manager. Like I said, I know lots of successful small business owners who have unconventional appearances. They tend to be super active in their communities, and very friendly and approachable, too.

        Regarding the obesity thing– yes, I know they’re different, but they’re symptoms of the same problem. It’s very human to want to judge people by their appearances…but it’s not very Christian or very decent, and it is definitely something that we should work against instead of trying to excuse.

        • Perhaps you have stated it most concisely and eloquently of everyone who disagreed with her article.

          “I think that your motives were right with this post, but I have to question your technique. I don’t think that it’s at all helpful to tell people that certain choices of self-adornment are ugly and scary, and that if they ever want to get a job, they have to change.”

          Technique and delivery are everything…for Sheila and those of us that disagreed!
          Melissa recently posted…Home is where the heart is.My Profile

        • I know what you’re saying, Christine, but my column wasn’t addressed to employers (and, for the record, I’ve written other columns before about how employers should really consider hiring more teens, because they can be great employees).

          And I never said that to be successful you had to be a bank manager; you just said that people who have a lot of piercings/tattoos aren’t usually bank managers, so I was using your example.

          People who dress a certain way deliberately are going to bear the consequences of their choices. And, even as a Christian, if I were an employer at a restaurant, I would not hire people with a lot of piercings. It would scare the customers away. That is simply a fact. And it is interpreted MUCH differently than someone who is obese, because the piercings are a statement; obesity is not.

          This has nothing to do with how we treat people on an individual level.

          We have a crisis in North America, but especially in the inner cities. We have a whole generation of kids who are growing up without good adult influence who are in the underclass, and are likely to stay there. Most of this is because of the cards they are dealt, but it’s also because many of these kids then go on to make poor choices that make the situation worse.

          I don’t think this is acceptable. But telling people, “you have to hire people who look like thugs and who don’t pull up their pants” won’t work. We need to admit that much of the problem here is a cultural issue. People are choosing to do things that are jeopardizing their future–not finishing high school, getting involved with gangs, having kids before they’re married.

          The church needs to intervene and help these kids, through street ministry, and reaching out to single moms, and doing their own job training. But society also needs to send a message: people, you have to help yourselves. We can’t do everything for you. So don’t shoot yourself in the foot!

          I’m reminded of Mayor Nutter of Philadephia, who is African American, saying this:

          Lecturing teens on local television, Mr. Nutter was unsparing in his critique.

          “Pull your pants up and buy a belt ‘cause no one wants to see your underwear or the crack of your butt. If you walk into somebody’s office with your hair uncombed and a pick in the back, and your shoes untied, and your pants half down, tattoos up and down your arms and on your neck, and you wonder why somebody won’t hire you? They don’t hire you ‘cause you look like you’re crazy,” the mayor said.

          He’s right. And while we can argue that Christians should accept everyone, I do not think that praising someone who deliberately attempts to look anti-social is a good thing to do, either. We should be encouraging young people to be responsible, and to have good witnesses, and to be approachable. Telling them, “self-expression is wonderful!” is simply not true. Some forms of self-expression are really off-putting to the majority of the population–hence there are dress codes about it. And as the Mayor said, appearances matter. They are a sign that you respect yourself. I think Jesus wants us to respect ourselves, and in the same way that this means not showing a ton of cleavage or not showing your underwear, it likely means not adorning yourself to the extreme that you look scary to people. And it is not people’s fault if they interpret numerous piercings and tattoos and dark makeup as scary.

  43. It is interesting to me when people purposefully dress in a way that is counter cultural, not boring or office workery, and say “hey why didn’t I get that job? Why don’t people take me seriously in the workplace?” you made a choice to dress that way. When I had pink and purple hair, I did so at a time when I wouldn’t have to go work in an office. I was otherwise very “normal” looking. I was smiley and cheerful. Old ladies at church loved my hair and lamented about how there was no option for pink hair back in their day. We have fellows at church with piercings and tattoos and they are delightful boys, but sometimes it takes someone like me, who is middle aged, but used to be a little bit of a punk, to say “Mrs. Jones, this is Sam. He’s a sweet boy, and his family is from St. Paul, too. What neighborhood was it again, Sam?” and let her see that Sam is ok, even if he gauges his ears and it looks odd to her.

  44. I’ve been praying about commenting in the interest of seeking and pursuing peace. I’m sad about the direction the comments have taken because regardless of the content of any post and the disagreement/agreement surrounding it, this should not be the case in the body of Christ. Confrontation of any offense should be exchanged privately and saturated in love and grace -this is my understanding from God’s word but that’s an entirely separate issue :)

    I do get the gist of your post. I can see your heart and understand the context from which your’e sharing and I pray that my words reflect that.

    Unfortunately, we *do* live in a world that judges the outward appearance (oh how thankful I am for a God who judges the inside!) I don’t believe your post was judgmental or intentionally offensive. I do think that a cultural gap may exist from which you shared your perspective and that is understandable; we all think, believe and share from cultural lenses to a certain extent. Not to do so can be hard and is an ever-growing (time-oriented) process.

    I wanted to share some thoughts I had when reading the post and the comments; I’m in a multicultural counseling class this semester as part of my grad program and it has truly been eye-opening in terms of the historical/racial implications of why individuals (specifically minorities/people of color) dress, talk, act the way they do. Culturally, we tend to be unaware of another culture’s history/traditions and ultimately our views of some of the things they wear, say, do can be tainted (I’m speaking to myself here too-the class has smacked me upside the head in terms of the biases I’ve held of other cultures without even recognizing them as such-praise God for brand new mercies and everlasting grace!).

    We’ve been talking a lot about how this country is rooted in racial bias/discrimination and historically, White privilege and supremacy have determined what is acceptable and what isn’t. This isn’t the fault of individuals (so I pray this is not offensive to my Caucasian brothers/sisters) but it is the system of this country (and other parts of the world) and we live in it and are faced with its implications. I think this is an important consideration even in the body of Christ-yes we are all fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image and equal in worth in His eyes regardless of race, gender etc. but we are different in so many ways and unfortunately those differences have been used to excercise power and control over others (in all facets of society be it work, leisure, church etc.) rather than celebrated as a complete picture of God’s magnificant/all encompassing image.

    We’ve been talking in class about how there is historical context to certain kinds of appearances. For example Black slaves were forced to tie their hair back in braids/pig tails by their White masters; picks/Afros were and still are a sign of freedom from that (and even though today’s generation may not be slaves the emotional and psychological effects have carried through generationally so the mental aspect of oppression still exists internally-this is Biblical too as we read about “generational curses” in the OT) and I wonder if it is productive or fair to ask other cultures/races to conform to standards that are limited to one race/cultural perspective rather than work towards changing the system to create acceptance and equality that includes the history and experiences of all cultures?

    I’m South Asian (Pakistani) and getting your nose pierced is very heavily embedded in the identity of a Pakistani woman (historically and in my family). Because I don’t live in Pakistan and live in America, I don’t believe that I should let go of that part of my identity (and please know I’m not saying you said I should just offering a different perspective).

    Having said that by the grace of God and because it was a part of His perfect and specific will for my life; I have lived in America for 12 years, received my Bachelor’s degree, worked in three agencies including as an Executive Director of a non-profit organization; am finishing up my graduate degree as a marriage therapist; and will be taking my oath soon to become a citizen; all with my nose pierced hallelujah! From a completely spiritual perspective, God has made provisions for us to walk in the cultural traditions He birthed us into (those that align with His word and yes there are some from every single culture that don’t align with His word but *His word* (not the world/culture/society/majority race) determines that. If we are walking aligned with His word be it the way we dress, talk, act, and aim for jobs/ministries that He has called us to, we can be assured that He will carry us through and open doors for us that “man” cannot close.

    Just encouraging all of us to recognize that Christians come from all cultures, backgrounds, historical contexts, races, country of origins etc. God has made us uniquely; purposefully placed us in the families/cultures we’re in; created us to honor Him in how we look on the outside but also how our hearts are on the inside (again He, not the culture/majority race determines what that looks like); and called us to a very specific purpose in this world to bring Him glory and He will be faithful for that to come to pass irrespective of external/worldly standards that are not mindful of race, gender etc.

    I pray my words reflect my heart. Please charge any offense or hurt they may have caused to my head and not my heart.

    Love and blessings.

    (PS I know this post was intended for a secular column; the Biblical aspect of my comment was based on where the conversation was going in the comments but I believe the cultural perspective is true regardless of our faith convictions)

  45. Wow – this conversation went so intense… shhhhnnnnnappppsel….

    Whatever you do Sheila – please don’t allow the negativity to overwhelm you – and please don’t stop writing. I love how simple and practical your blog posts are.

    This one in particular I am planning to use to talk to some of the youth I work with.
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  46. As a mom with two teenage daughters who are constantly harping on me to let them get more than there ears pierced….I continue to say no for the same exact reasons you state in your blog. Amen to your boldness!

  47. I have to start by saying that I agree with what you said here. But after reading through some of the comments and the contention that was presented in them, it made me think of an article that I read a while back. It speaks of what it means to judge, and when is it ok to judge and when is it not. I found it very enlightening and firmly Biblical. I think it would do every Christian good to read it, and see how we can all better apply it in our lives. Blessings to you!


  48. Sheila, I just read this as part of your monthly review. I whole heartedly agree with you, but want to add two things, and ask one thing. The bible tells us not to pierce our selves, a study would find that ear rings and nose rings were not pierced, except for the case of the bond slave. For this reason I have never pierced my ears, and did not allow my girls to either. As for the ear spacers, I was born in New Guinea to Australian parents and I grew up with pictures of old native men with big saggy loops in their ears, when I see young people in the street with ear spacers I feel like showing them a pic of these natives and say this is what uyou will look like. Now for the question…Last night as I was milking cows I was pondering on one that had a leak out the side of her teat,not sure if this is a deformity or an injury, but it got me wondering if a woman gets a nipple piercing and then has a baby and starts lactating, does it leak?

    Thank you for having the courage to post the contriversial subjects, I just wish people would answer with biblical foundations, not what feels good to them.

  49. Wow. Why do people get so upset with you for saying what everyone is thinking?

    You create a public image of yourself. You do this everyday by choosing how you wear your hair, what clothes and shoes you wear, what car you drive, whether you buy glasses or contacts, choosing to flaunt all your Apple products ect. Some people are very deliberate about it and some are largely unconscious of it. But we all do it, that’s why branding and advertising works.
    And that’s why you have the phenomenon of image crafting on social networks.

    Now, isn’t it better to educate people who are unaware of the image they are creating as to the effects on other people? I think it is. That is why we teach our children to be modest amongst other things. In older times you sent your children to finishing school so they could learn how to walk, talk, pitch their voice, sit stand and move as befits their class. Watch My Fair Lady for a case study. So why is it bad to tell people not to dress, act and modify their bodies in ways that will limit their future options?

    I think most of the violent reaction is due to this illusion of a classless society America likes to project. It is not class-less. It never will be. And the way you act, speak, write and dress puts you in a class. To echo others; it should not be that way. But it is. Just the facts of life. Don’t get mad at the messenger.

    My other observation is this: I’ve been lurking in some of these “counter cultural” communities (Lolita fashion and corseting)for some time now. They do have very strict dress codes. And they do judge people in the community as well as outsiders very harshly for not conforming to their chosen dress code or getting it slightly wrong.

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  1. […] saying, “I’ve read you for years, but this is too much. Good-bye.” I had one on today’s column below! So all that I’ve done for years doesn’t matter? You disagree on this one thing? […]

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