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…
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.