Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Monday, 7 July 2014

Painted Lady

Time was when a glimpse of feminine ankle would have set pulses racing for British men.

These days, things are generally rather more relaxed here (although other parts of the world are still rather less accommodating) and, with the advent of summer, bare ankles are visible in offices up and down the land.

It seems, however, that there is still one last taboo:
A high-flying career woman who lost her job because of a butterfly tattoo on her FOOT [sic] is contemplating taking a legal stand.
This is the tale of a woman, employed via an agency, whose contract was terminated because, over a period of weeks, she 'made no effort' to comply with a ban on visible tattoos at her workplace.
She is consulting a solicitor, on behalf of all professionals with tattoos, to see if the Salisbury’s action constitutes discrimination under inclusion and diversity laws.
How public-spirited of her! Frankly, this dispute with her boss looks like a case of irresistible force and immovable object; he says all tattoos must be covered in the office to project a professional image to customers, she says that disguising it would be impractical...
“The only way to cover it would be to wear a sock. I’m a businesswoman and I wear smart dresses to work, so that would look stupid."
 ... and, on the sidelines, in the best soap-opera tradition, the local paper happily weighs in with some loaded narrative making it clear whose side it is on:
Jo [...] did not deal with members of the public and was praised for her “outstanding” work during her five months at Salisbury.
I, for one, would be interested to know why this thirty-something businesswoman - albeit one sporting a rather un-businesslike tattoo - appears unaware that cosmetic tattoo-covering creams are widely available*; indeed, how could it be otherwise, given the popularity of tattooing and the exorbitant price of removal?
“I suggested covering it with a sticking plaster but thought that would look 
unprofessional and draw 
attention to it.”
And who, in sartorially liberated 21st-century Britain decrees that women must wear dresses to work anyway? A smart pair of long summer trousers would surely hide the artwork to the satisfaction of all but the most draconian of employers.

While the policy is, perhaps, a harsh one in a society where even the Prime Minister's wife is no stranger to the needle, given this lady's persistence and her readiness to seek legal advice (and the ear of the local newspaper), it is hard not to conclude that she was stubbornly determined to flout the rules.

Under the circumstances, her choice of the delicate and ethereal butterfly as a motif seems more than a little inappropriate.

*And that's not all; a quick google reveals a host of specialist websites complete with such quotes as:
"Every bride I encounter now needs/wants their tattoos covered for their wedding, and airbrush is the best way to do it."


  1. Butterfly?

    He, heee, heeeee....

    Do some research, J!

  2. "it is hard not to conclude that she was stubbornly determined to flout the rules."

    I agree. When such stories crop up my wife and I chant "compo".

    Not every time though - it would be a daily chant.

  3. Rightwinggit, if there were a Sapphic context, it might account for her talk of 'discrimination' - and, perhaps, her desire to keep it on show...

    How cynical you are, AKH; she's doing it 'on behalf of all professionals with tattoos' - she said so!

  4. Your link page quotes her as saying "I have been a procurement consultant for years".

    Now we know why she looks like an old whore.

  5. "“I suggested covering it with a sticking plaster but thought that would look 
unprofessional and draw 
attention to it.”"

    It's unprofessional to cut yourself..?

  6. IH, I'm not entirely sure what the job description entails - apart from entitling its holder toe speedy boarding for the Golgafrinchan B Ark - but I suspect it is something to do with the process by which public sector organisations somehow manage to pay three times the going rate for everything.

    Julia, none of it makes any sense; why is a sticking plaster somehow 'unprofessional' but a tattoo presumably not?

  7. Why not wear dungarees to work? With a pair of Doc Martens boots it would be quite fashionable as well as serviceable.

  8. I can see both sides of this one. On the one hand these kinds of rules tend to be upfront and clearly stated, so she took the job knowing the dress code and could very easily have complied with no inconvenience to herself. On the other, the dress code for someone who is not customer facing is somewhat anal and unnecessary. Indeed, these days, it is unnecessary for customer facing staff as it seems those of us who do not have inked bodies are in the minority (or is it just me?).

    Dress codes should - if the employer is paying attention - adapt to reflect changing public opinion as well as corporate image. So the whole thing is a bit silly on both sides.

  9. LR/Demetrius, while dungarees might be a step too far, prescriptive dress codes are definitely outmoded, especially when staff are not on view. However, when rules exist they must be observed until they are officially changed.

    A good analogy is school uniform; after all, other countries seem to manage perfectly well without it. Personally I don't care what pupils wear during lessons as long as they are prepared to work but, as long as the rules are there, I will make sure they are properly turned out when they leave the room.

    In this particular case, LR, I have to admit that I too found myself thinking 'Can't they both lose?'