An Ohio woman recently went viral for a social media post about a positive experience with tattoos at her new job.
Jessica Leonard recently started a new position at the Cleveland-based private equity firm Evolution Capital Partners and needed a new professional photograph for a bio on their website.
Though she planned to wear a jacket in the photograph for the company's page, she hoped to use a second picture that showed off her tattooed arms for her personal social media, she recalled in a LinkedIn post that has received more than 31,000 reactions as of Tuesday afternoon.
But Leonard said she was no stranger to receiving negative reactions about her tattoos and has even received unsolicited warnings from people who said she wouldn't be taken seriously if she revealed them.
"Ironically, most of the negative feedback I've received has been from female leaders who I looked to as mentors," she wrote.
That's why when Leonard asked Evolution Capital's managing partner about the portrait idea, she admittedly took a "cautious" approach.
Courtesy of Jessica Leonard Jessica Leonard and Jonny Crist, Co-Owner of Diamond in the Rough.
"I was cautious but asked our Managing Partner if he was comfortable with me getting a photo taken sans jacket for my personal use on LinkedIn, but that we'd use one with the jacket for our website," Leonard wrote. "His response - 'Let's roll with the tattoos in both! Loud and proud!'"
Leonard said his positive response left her "shocked."
"I had grown accustomed to wearing long sleeves in the heat of summer, to tugging on my suit coat sleeves in every meeting, to pulling my hair around my ear so no one would get a glimpse of the small tattoo behind my ear, to avoiding getting any leg or ankle tattoos for fear of never being able to wear a skirt again in a business setting," she said. "Very often, I simply felt that I needed to be careful about when I was being too freely me."
Courtesy of Jessica Leonard
"But then sometimes, you come across those leaders who not only allow you to show up every day as you are, but they also expect it," she continued.
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"Those leaders who have recognized that whether I'm in the jacket or not, I'm the same person, the same business professional… a female leader who will most certainly be taken seriously."
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Leonard's LinkedIn post featured her two portraits, with and without her jacket.
Evolution Capital ultimately used the picture of her tattoos for their website.
"So a big thank you to those leaders," Leonard on her LinkedIn page. "It's because of you that everyone can now find me on the Evolution website, and out in the world, being more comfortable in my own skin."