A surprising announcement came recently from the heads of Disney relating to the employee dress code at their respective parks, Walt Disney World and Disneyland. In a push for increased inclusivity and a move towards allowing more modern standards of acceptable dress, park employees will be allowing more gender-flexible costumes and allowing employees to have “acceptable” visible tattoos while working.
This is a drastic change from previous Disney Parks regulations on their employees’ appearance, as there was a previous ban on beards and facial hair that was only lifted in 2012.
Disney is citing this change as a result of the addition of “inclusion” to their four “keys” policy that shape their approach to customer service. The other keys are safety, courtesy, show and efficiency.
The approach to making Disney Parks more welcoming spaces for people from all walks of life has also been showcased in their recent content. This has been evident in the past few years as they began to produce more diverse content that differs from the Disney standard: stories centered around white protagonists that show strict adherence to traditional gender roles.
The film “Frozen” did not feature a love interest and focused more on familial love instead of romance, while “Moana” and “Raya and The Last Dragon” featured women of color as leads that also were happily without love interests.
I applaud this recent move by Disney. There has been a change in fashion that is not bound to the traditional gender binary.
We have seen celebrities such as Harry Styles, Kid Cudi and Bad Bunny break the mold and publicly embrace fashion previously associated with the opposite gender. These significant steps forward by celebrities have paved the way for a gender-neutral approach to fashion that has been growing in alternative spheres for years to make its way to the mainstream.
With this fashion now in the mainstream, it was only a matter of time before the conversation regarding gender-neutral clothing in the workplace sparked.
Tattoos used to have a negative connotation and have started to transfer over from the counterculture to the mainstream. Decades ago, tattoos were mainly associated with bikers or rockstars, but nowadays, you can add teachers and everyday college students to that list.
Tattoos are not a label that you can use to make a judgment of someone’s professional capabilities, and neither are the clothes they choose to wear.
Both fashion style and tattoos are considered forms of art, and they allow people to express their personality as they go about their life in a world that can always use a little bit more creativity. The only difference between a tattoo or fashion piece and a painting is that one of them is stuck on a wall, and the other is a part of a person’s identity.
As long as the tattoo or clothing is not explicit and does not impede you from performing the tasks necessary for your job, it should have no bearing on deciding if you are hired for a position. Disney has set a good example for other workplaces, and I hope to see other companies enact similar policies going forward.