Nurse Mary Penney has written an elegant response illuminating the nobility and courage of her profession after being criticized for her appearance by a cashier while shopping after the end of her shift.
Penney has vibrantly colored hair, tattoos, and a few piercings: adornments that, while unconventional to some — especially those of a generation used to strict dress codes and professional attire — speak to the rise of a culture that encourages personal expression, provided that said expression does not disrupt or hamper one's job environment or responsibilities.
In a short July 9 Facebook post, Penney describes an interaction with two women she had while checking out at a store after work.
After the cashier noticed Penney's name tag, she inquired as to her responsibilities at the nursing facility. When Penney informed the woman that she is a nurse, the woman became critical, expressing shock that she was allowed to work with colorfully-dyed hair, and asking another customer in line for her opinion on the young nurse's appearance.
Although Penney does not mention whether or not she engaged the two any further, she eloquently stated her thoughts on the matter on Facebook.
"I can't recall a time that my hair color has prevented me from providing life saving treatment to one of my patients," she wrote.
"My tattoos have never kept them from holding my hand and as they lay frightened and crying because Alzheimer's has stolen their mind."
Read the rest of Penny's beautiful post below.
As more and more young people enter the workplace, we can expect that cultural and social norms will shift: We must be flexible in understanding them and in realizing that an unconventional appearance is not indicative of an inability to perform a task, care for others, or hold responsibilities.
With that in mind, let's be mindful of the things we say. There's nothing about this young lady's appearance that could prevent or hinder her from saving a life. That life could very well be yours.