Ear Gauges, Ear Tunnels, and Ear Spikes
By Tonya Wells – There is a huge growing trend among the 15 to the 30-something year old crowd to stretch their ear lobes so that they have huge holes in them. Called ear gauging, the holes in the ear lobes are stretched a little bit at a time, sometimes over a two to five year period of time depending on how big the individual wishes the holes to be. Some people even take this extreme further by putting multiple holes in their ears.
The holes are held open using either tunnels, shown below
or by spikes, also shown below.
Over time the size of the tunnels or spikes is increased to make the hole bigger. They come in kits that start with very small sizes, and as the ear is stretched, a larger size is used from the kit.
Most people in both social and business settings have mixed reactions to seeing someone with holes in their ears. The bigger the hole, the more negative or appalled most people are when they see the person. It is damn near impossible not to stare rudely at the person and wonder “Why in the hell would anyone want to do that to themselves?” or “That must’ve hurt like hell!” Others stare at the holes with envy and wonder how long it will take them to get their ears stretched to that size. It just depends on whether or not you are ‘For’ or ‘Against’ ear gauging.
While a person may be able to get away with all the personal expression they want in a social setting, in most professional environments, the freedom of personal expression does have its limits. Most companies have dress codes and expectation levels around how conservative or how expressive an employee is allowed to be while on the job. So, the question I get asked frequently is whether or not someone who has stretched their earlobes to the size of a doughnut hole has ruined their chances of getting a job or of moving up in a company.
I will be bluntly honest here. I am not a fan of ear guages. But, my personal feelings aside, when you really get down to it, this form of personal expression is not a complete career limiting move. How much it will affect a person’s chances of future employment really depends on where they want to work, whether or not the job they desire is customer facing, and how much the industry in which they wish to get a job supports the freedom of personal expression.
In general, a person with ear tunnels or spikes can expect the following road blocks when they are searching for a job:
– If they’re in a job answering a phone all day, nobody is going to particularly care what they look like. So, getting a job in a call center as a customer service representative is not out of the question.
– Jobs where they will be working with external customers typically frown on hiring people covered in tattoos or with ear guages (even if they are covered up with flesh-colored plugs as shown below), unless they are in the arts, cosmetology, media, or music industry.
– Jobs where they will be interacting with a lot of upper level executives or across departments as a representative of another department will probably be out of their reach unless they are working in the arts, media, music, or cosmetology industry.
– Conservative companies will have strict rules around being able to cover up anything that does not follow their conservative dress codes including tattoos, and taking out multiple body piercings. Since it’s not possible to take out the holes in a person’s ears nor can they be covered up with anything other than flesh colored plugs, a person’s chances of getting hired with a more conservative company are pretty slim.
Industries that might have a higher tolerance for this type of personal expression would include the following:
– Repair/Maintenance Technicians
– Arts (including fine arts, photography, and tattoo parlors)
– Content Management/Copy Editing/Writing/Journalism
– Customer Service Representatives/Contact Center
Industries that will be less likely to give someone with ear guages a shot at a job, even if they have flesh colored plugs would include the following:
– Information Technology (unless they are able to get a job at a small software development shop doing gaming or website development where customer interaction might not apply)
– TV/News Reporter
– Police/Fire Department
I’m sure I’m missing some professions here, but this should give folks the general idea. In general, if the job requirement states that someone needs a Bachelors degree to get the job, they aren’t going to get hired with holes in their ears unless they are going to work in one of the more lenient industries I mentioned above.
So, while you may value your freedom of personal expression now, one of the things I want to encourage you to consider is this:
1) In your 5-year / 10-year plan of where you want to be in your career somewhere down the road, what job do you envision yourself holding at that time?
2) What jobs roles will you have to get experience in first in order to move up into the job role that you ultimately desire?
3) Will you let your desire for personal expression interfere with getting those initial jobs that will get you where you want to be in the next 5 to 10 years?
If you really want to achieve that long-term goal, then you need to reconsider now how you can start reversing what you’ve already done to your ears. If you don’t see it preventing you from getting the job you need now in order to get to where you want to be in the future, then by all means – carry on.