Even when her tattoos are covered, it’s hard not to notice Jollene Kuo. The lanky MU senior has spiky bleached hair, a nose ring and 21 diamond studs running up her ears.
When Kuo lifts the hem of her shirt, red and purple roses spill across her lower back and stomach, hip to hip. Kuo is happy to keep the bulk of her body art under wraps, and has no plans for any conspicuous tattoos.
“I always get them in a place where I can hide them,” she says.
All the same, Kuo ran into difficulty working as a reporter at KOMU-TV. The tattoos were a non-issue and the nose ring was easy to remove, but her hair and ear piercings posed more of a problem.
Unhappy with the prospect of radically altering her appearance but determined to gain experience, Kuo opted instead to wear a wig while working at the station. Although she admits that combing out and styling the traditional blond wig was “a pain,” she was content with the arrangement, which allowed her to temporarily tone down her look without abandoning it altogether.
Self-censoring was trying, she says, but she found it necessary to further her goals. “I got (the tattoos) for a reason and I’m willing to compromise,” Kuo says.
In the short-term, that is: After graduation, Kuo plans to pursue a career in entertainment news, where she hopes her edgy look will serve as a boon instead of a barrier. “I’m a big proponent of individuality,” she says.