When I worked as a copywriter at Victoria’s Secret many moons (Bad pun intended?) ago, the office got an email one day outlining our business casual dress code.
Apparently, some of us were pushing it with our colored denim and fancy flip-flops, so corporate decided to lay down the law. I skimmed the rules while muttering a complaint to the girl next to me in the cube farm about how ridiculous it was that we couldn’t wear jeans considering the only people were ever interacted with were each other. And then I saw rule that said something like this:
“Women wearing skirts or dresses must shave their legs and/or wear hosiery.”
WHAT? Victoria’s Secret was now in charge not only of the way I dressed, but whether or not I shaved my legs? Twenty-two year old Daisy did not like to be told what to do and she was pissed. (This, despite the fact, that I shaved my legs once, if not two times a day. Seriously. That’s how much I despise leg hair/stubble; I’ve since gotten laser hair removal because seriously? Twice a day? WTF.)
But whether or not I personally shaved my legs had nothing to do with it. Who were they to dictate every woman’s grooming habits? They didn’t say that men couldn’t have beards or goatees, did they? (Did they? I don’t actually remember, but I’m pretty sure they did not.)
I was so confrontational at that point in my life that I’m surprised I didn’t grow my leg hair out and start prancing around the office in mini skirts, but unfortunately I liked sex more than proving a point, and I hadn’t figured out yet that guys will sleep with you no matter what your body hair is like.
Plus, here’s the thing: If you work in an office, you typically have to adhere to some sort of dress code, which varies depending on how corporate your office is.
Regardless of how you may dress in your free time, when a company hires you, they are paying you to not only do a good job, but to show up on time, and present yourself in the way they expect, and all the other stuff that comes with selling your soul. (Oh, not YOU, people who employee me, but I mean. YOU GET WHAT I AM SAYING.)
This is true even in the NFL. When Carolina Panthers owner, Jerry Richardson, met with Cam Newton before the draft, he liked the way Newton presented himself. He said Newton was “dressed perfectly” with “a very nice haircut.” In the meeting, Richardson asked Newton if he had any tattoos or piercings. When Newton responded, “No, sir,” Richardson made it clear he’d like it to stay that way.
Newton must have given Richardson an answer he liked, because the Panthers then took Newton with their No. 1 draft pic.
In the PBS interview with Charlie Rose where Richardson shared this story, Richardson didn’t share a specific reason why he requested that Cam Newton refrain from getting tattoos or piercings, just that it seemed like a reasonable request.
We can make all kinds of assumptions about his reasons. He thinks tattoos and piercings might alienate certain fans; he wants his marquee quarterback to remain approachable; he is concerned about advertising dollars and sponsors; he once got a tattoo of a bull on his ass that he’s always regretted and he wants to make sure Cam doesn’t do the same.
Whatever his reasons, Richardson can’t actually control whether or not Cam Newton goes out and gets his tatted up, but the first-year quarterback who’s already under enormous pressure probably doesn’t want to rock the boat, so I’m sure he’ll refrain. (Not to mention, it doesn’t seem to fit with his clean-cut style anyway.)
I have mixed feelings on this, to be honest. I think an employer has every right to request that his/her employees present themselves in a certain way when the employees are representing the company, which, for a football player is ALL OF THE TIME. But there’s not a “no tattoo/piercings” precedent in the NFL, or, for that matter, on the Panthers.
When I was contracting as a copywriter at Sephora, I had to wear their corporate colors: black, white, gray and red (“but you can wear any color scarf you want!”--seriously) and yeah, it sucked (oh, how I missed jeans), but hey, they were paying me to represent the company. So I shut my mouth. (Plus, I got lots of free makeup. Squeal!)
What do you think about the Carolina Panthers owner’s decision to request that Cam Newton remain tattoo and piercing-free? Have you ever had an employer tell you what you can and cannot wear? Has your personal style had an impact on the type of jobs you can get? Is there life without fashion? Spill it, xoJane readers!
(Also, if Cam Newton does get a tattoo, maybe he should take a page out of my horrible ex-boyfriend's book and get this "sorry" tattoo on his lip. SO META!)