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This morning I was in line getting my Pennsylvania driver’s license, and noticed a teenager in front of me getting his learner’s permit. He had a small ring in each earlobe — not pierced in the conventional way, but rather with small rings embedded into each earlobe. The idea is to stretch out the earlobe. The kid’s father was with him, and I thought, way to go, Dad, letting your kid turn himself into a freak.
I wonder, though, if young people into the more extreme forms of body modification have any idea how unemployable that sort of thing makes them in many decent-paying jobs. That kid’s freaky ears may make him cool among his crowd, but try putting on a coat and tie and showing up for a job interview looking like a primitive. You can grinch and moan all you want about how unfa-a-a-ir it is to judge people negatively based on their body modifications, but there is such a thing as professional standards of appearance. You don’t like it? Fine. But resign yourself to being able to work only in a certain kind of job. I blogged earlier today off that Atlantic Monthly story saying that young adults entering today’s job market have totally unrealistic expectations of what it’s going to be like for them — and that one reason they are so ill-informed is because their parents have indulged them, and encouraged them in their flight from reality. Along those lines, re: economic mobility and freedom, that teenager’s father has done his son a great disservice by allowing him to permanently stretch out his earlobes like that. It’s like giving your kid a food-stamp name.
Jobs aside, don’t these kids ever stop to think about how stupid they’re going to look when they hit middle age?