Mary Walls Penney was told her appearance would prevent her from doing her job.


If you’ve ever required care from a medical professional, chances are the last thing you paid much attention to was their appearance.

A practitioner’s expertise and performance isn’t determined in any way by their height, face shape, skin colour — any of it.

Yet one nurse has been forced to defend herself against the suggestion her hair colour somehow impacts her work.

Mary Walls Penney, who has a glorious head of rainbow hair, was out shopping in her uniform one day when a cashier asked her what she did for a living.

On learning Walls Penney worked at a nursing facility, the woman responded, “I’m surprised they let you work there like that. What do your patients think about your hair?”

She then remarked that “they didn’t allow that sort of thing” when she worked in the fast food industry.

Certainly, some workplaces might apply strict guidelines where staff appearance is concerned, and while it’s not always a great idea, that’s their prerogative.

However, Walls Penney was stunned by the suggestion that her vivid hair dye would prevent her from doing her job and doing it well. She posted a passionate response to the incident on Facebook, and it’s since been shared by thousands.

“I can’t recall a time that my hair colour has prevented me from providing life saving treatment to one of my patients,” Walls Penney writes.

Watch: A blonde hair expert shares her top tips. (Post continues after video.)


It’s not just her hair colour she’s defending, either. The nurse also has a number of tattoos and piercings, and guess what? They don’t obstruct her from caring for her patients, either.

“My tattoos have never kept them from holding my hand and as they lay frightened and crying because Alzheimer’s has stolen their mind,” the post continues.

“My multiple ear piercings have never interfered with me hearing them reminisce about their better days or listening to them as they express their last wishes. My tongue piercing has never kept me from speaking words of encouragement to a newly diagnosed patient or from comforting a family that is grieving.”

In situations like these, it’s worth recalling those age-old yet always relevant words: you can’t judge a book by its cover. (Post continues after gallery.)

Yes, tattoos, piercings and bright hair can dramatically change someone’s appearance and make them stand out from their peers, but that’s where the difference ends.

“So, please explain to me how my appearance, while being paired with my cheerful disposition, servant’s heart, and smiling face, has made me unfit to provide nursing care and unable to do my job!” Walls Penney concludes.

Have you ever had people make assumptions based on their appearance?

Featured image: Facebook.