Judging by the Cover

1 January 2017

Judging by the Cover,” is an essay written in 2003 by Bonny Gainley who is a consultant, speaker, and author. It originally appeared in an opinion column in a Colorado newspaper. Although non-discriminatory, she believes that people project messages about themselves with their appearance. This essay seems to be intended for recent graduates and young job seekers. The main point that she tries to explain to the reader is that even though our family and friends may accept us for who we are, employers may not. Gainley does make some really good points when discussing why people need to be aware of how they look.

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She seems to be trying to talk about too many issues in such a short article and it becomes very confusing and misleading, starting with the very first paragraph. She starts out by saying “Spring is in the air, and those about to graduate are looking for jobs just like many of the rest of us. ” Her warning, which seems to be directed toward college students, does not flow with the rest of her article. Her story might have received more notice and flowed better if she would have started with the second paragraph instead. She explains how everyone wants to be accepted for how they are.

Our family accepts us for who we are but our workplace may not. She uses an example from a high school newspaper. The editorial of this paper claimed it was unfair for business and professionals to discourage visible tattoos. It is misleading that she uses a high school newspaper when she has geared this article toward college students, but by saying this, she shows how juvenile and naive young adults may be for thinking companies would accept them regardless of how they look. For example, some people think what they see on television is reality, like the shows “Criminal Minds,” or “NCIS.

In these shows, they have someone who dresses “Goth” and has a lot of tattoos. In real life you have to dress the part; dressing like that in the work place could be a distraction and a safety issue. She talks about not judging a book by its cover but then she says that sometimes people cover themselves on purpose, intending to send certain message. This paragraph was hard to understand. She seems to be trying to explain to the reader that although you should not judge a book by its cover, businesses often make assumptions by their appearance. Dress codes exist for a reason.

Sometimes it is for safety reasons but sometimes it’s just about what the employers or clients are willing to accept. If a certain look or appearance might make a client uncomfortable then the company will decide that such an appearance is inappropriate or might pose an unnecessary risk for that company. While it does not seem right, employers do care about our appearance. Jobs exist to make money and right now there is a tough job market. With a lot of people out there looking for jobs, employers can afford to be picky. This is not about human rights and freedom, but about free enterprise.

People are told to not discriminate against someone for something an applicant can’t control, and doing so would be illegal. With that being said, visible tattoos and body piercing are something very much controllable. She uses a very good example that runners would be at a disadvantage if they were to run 100 meters wearing combat boots. People who choose to have piercings and tattoos put themselves at a disadvantage. Imagine if 2 people walked into a job for an interview. They both had the same amount of experience, but one is dressed in a nice suite and the other has tattoos all down his arm.

They are going to go with the person who looks nicer and fits into the type of company they have. During the whole article she makes it difficult to understand which side she is on, or if she even has a side. She then gives her opinion by stating how she does not have a problem with tattoos which takes away from the meaning she is trying to say. She was paid to hire someone that would make a good impression on her customers but by stating how she does not have a problem with them herself, she confuses the reader about her feelings regarding tattoos and piercings and the point that she is really trying to make.

Her essay is a little outdated. While her essay might have been really good advice in 2003, I think more companies are open to the idea of tattoos and piercings as long as it is not excessive. At the same time, I do agree with what she is trying to say. People should be allowed to dress and look however they want, but at the same time, companies have a job to hire someone who they don’t consider risky or someone who they think might not offend their customers. Before you go out and get that new tattoo, or that new body piercing, jobseekers need to be aware that companies are not going to change to accommodate you.

Time has a way of changing everything. What is acceptable now was not acceptable years ago. For example, in the 50’s, woman were not allowed to wear pants. Now, they have business suits out there just for women. So, over time, it may be okay to wear tattoos and piercings. When that time comes, there will be another thing deemed inappropriate for the workplace. Job seekers need to be aware of this and when looking for a job, they should wear appropriate clothes to the interview. Do not expect to wear “the latest fashions” and be hired.

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