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Presentation Matters

Claire shot me a DM over Twitter:

Quick question, if you have the time: I’m an office PA, mini septum nose piercing yay or nay? Or should I hide it and feel it out first…?

First of all, you’re in Hollywood. A nose piercing is probably less shocking than nothing at all.1 I doubt if anyone would even notice, much less care.

The short, easy answer is, this is still America, and you’re free to do whatever you want to your body.2

The long, complicated answer is, this is still America, and everyone else is free to judge you based on your appearance.

“Don’t judge a book by its cover” is a great way to teach children both open-mindedness and grammar,3 but the fact is, nobody really does that. Otherwise, you wouldn’t pick up the pace when a big, hulking man follows you through a shadowy parking lot at the end of an 18 hour day. Sure, he’s probably just a grip on another show, searching for his own car, but then again, maybe not…

That's how grips dress, right?
Probably just a grip.

Anyway, I doubt Claire’s nose ring will appear threatening. But everything about your self presentation, from the way you dress to the way you do your hair, tells people something about you. It doesn’t matter if you intend to convey a message; a message is conveyed.

So take control of that. Are you a hard-worker? Smart? Conscientious? Then dress like a hard worker. Comb your hair smartly. Pierce your nose conscientiously.

What does that mean? I honestly don’t know. I don’t have a nose ring or tattoo. If you chose to express yourself in those ways, be in control of what you’re expressing. Understand what reaction you’re eliciting.

We are, after all, in show business. Everything we do is superficial. We convey a character’s deepest inner turmoil through external actions, words, costumes, set dressing; things that the audience can see.

If you don’t understand how the way you dress makes other people perceive you, you’re in the wrong industry.

Again, I’m not saying you can’t have tattoos or wear crazy outfits. Those are de rigueur in Los Angeles. There are plenty of people with, say, crazy hair who are extremely successful. A little whimsy in your self-presentation is totally fine. Just don’t go into it with the idea that people won’t have a reaction.

Footnotes    (↩ returns to text)

  1. Unless you’re an actor, when as little body modification as possible is preferable. The costume and make-up departments can always add stuff; it’s much harder to take away.
  2. For now.
  3. If you’re wondering, there’s no apostrophe because “its” isn’t a contraction.
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One Response

  1. I’ve been having the nose piercing debate lately. I have two PA friends that both have their septums pierced. One is a Paperwork PA (and has to talk to everyone) and the other works specifically with the actors on set (1st Team PA). One chooses to hide it and one chooses to show it (the one that works with the actors chooses to hide it).

    Piercings are a personal choice and luckily this is an industry that we aren’t marred by the creative choices of how we are presenting ourselves, but there’s still a fine line of a “time and place” and, I think you’re right, this is a personal choice for each crew member of what the fine line means to them. I don’t think either of my PA friends are wrong with their choices and there’s no right answer for this one.

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