One of the very first cover images that BME had was a crudely Photoshopped picture of businesspeople with piercings and tattoos. As an amusing aside before I get into this entry’s meat, a funny anecdote — after posting this I got a very angry call from a well known piercer accusing me of making fun of him or insulting him in some way because he felt I had knocked off his backpiece in my editing of this picture. I think he get even angrier when I told him that it was pure coincidence, that I’d just tried to draw a generic cliché of a tribal tattoo. It really was just a random drawing with no inspiration being drawn from him, but the whole time I was keeping my fingers crossed that he wouldn’t notice that I had in fact used his ear, I think scanned from one of Fakir’s beautiful Body Play magazines. It’s also funny what garbage passed for acceptable Photoshopping at the time
Anyway, when this was posted, probably something like 1995 or 1996, most people were sort of like, “ha ha, tattoos and piercings on business people — we all know that will never happen!”
But of course the world did change, more than any of us could have expected. More than any of us could have hoped for. This morning I heard from my friend Matthew, who has worked in IT (networking to be specific) for years. He says, “I have always felt right at home with my facial tattoos, stretched earlobes, and other enhancements. The modified professional is nowhere more at home than working in network engineering, development, systems administration and product testing here on the West Coast — specifically, here in Seattle.”
He adds that he was watching a Cisco (a huge multinational megacorporation, part of the Dow Jones Industrial Average) infomercial, and actor they chose to portray the “confident young ‘IT person’” is sleeved. That image that was aiming for the “dreaming big” future those long 17 years ago has really come true, at least in part. Yes, there are areas where we still have a way to go, but there are also areas where we succeeded years ago. Either way, things have gotten so much better, and they’re still getting better. We live in a world where it’s increasingly safe for a person to express themselves without risking their livelihood.
This reminds me — as some of you know, we’re currently making a push to repair some of the issues with BME, as well as adding new features. Something Rachel has wanted to do since I first met her, and gets mentioned practically weekly, is a database that keeps track of what employers are mod-friendly (and which are not). This has a prominent spot on my to-do list, and I think this is an excellent time to add it. It’s a useful feature for BME to have, not just for people looking for work, but also for consumers — I know that I would rather give my money to a company that I know tolerates personal freedom of expression among its employees.