Mary Walls Penney isn't an easy person to miss.
A nurse living in West Virginia, Penney's got rainbow-colored hair, piercings in her tongue and ears, and visible tattoos all over.
As for her personality? I have no idea, because I've never met her!
But apparently that hasn't stopped random people from forming opinions about her, and her ability to do her job, based on her unique appearance.
Mary recently shared a story on Facebook about an encounter with a judgey cashier. And her epic response went viral.
Here's the full text of Penney's fantastic post:
After work I went to the store to pick up a few things.
While checking out, the cashier, looked at my name tag and said, "So what do you do there?"
I replied, "I'm a nurse."
She continued, "I'm surprised they let you work there like that. What do your patients think about your hair?"
She then proceeded to ask the elderly lady that was in line behind me, "What do you think about her hair?"
The kind older lady said, "Nothing against you honey, it's just not for me."
Then the cashier continued to comment that they didn't allow that sort of thing even when she worked fast food and that she was shocked that a nursing facility would allow that.
Well, here's my thoughts. I can't recall a time that my hair color has prevented me from providing life saving treatment to one of my patients. My tattoos have never kept them from holding my hand and as they lay frightened and crying because Alzheimer's has stolen their mind. 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.
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!
It's a bummer that we need yet another reminder, but what we choose to do with our bodies has no bearing on our value as human beings.
Penney is spot-on in her response to what she experienced. Stereotyping can take a lot of different forms, whether it's the perception that overweight people are lazy and unhealthy or that tattooed individuals aren't capable of operating in a professional environment.
It's all hurtful, and it's all totally unfounded.
The good news is that the more attention we can bring to stories of intolerance (however small), the more minds we can change.
Penney's post has been shared over 100,000 times and pulled in thousands of supportive comments.
It may be a small drop in a vast ocean, but to people like Penney who are tired of being treated rudely or unfairly because of the way they look, it can mean the world. More of that support, please!