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Covered in Ink"Tattoos, Women and the Politics of the Body"$
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Beverly Yuen Thompson

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780814760000

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814760000.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM NYU Press SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.nyu.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of NYU Press Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NYSO for personal use.date: 13 June 2021

“I Want to Be Covered”

“I Want to Be Covered”

Heavily Tattooed Women Challenge the Dominant Beauty Culture

(p.35) 2 “I Want to Be Covered”
Covered in Ink

Beverly Yuen Thompson

NYU Press

This chapter draws upon the growing field of social embodiment to understand how women are positioned socially within the beauty culture. Body modifications such as plastic surgery and dieting are socially acceptable, as long as they aim toward the achievement of beauty ideals. When women become heavily tattooed, it is considered masculine, ugly, and a betrayal of the beauty culture. This betrayal is captured in the popular insult “You’re such a pretty girl, why would you do that to yourself?” However, when women prescribe to beauty culture ideals, the goal always becomes more elusive, and requires extensive and ongoing bodily discipline. Heavily tattooed women take an alternative path and define their own beauty. In this way, they create a non-normative body project that promotes self-expression and self-acceptance. All of the participants expressed increased self-esteem through the process of their body modifications. However, they face social challenges to their decision from a society that expects women to aspire toward beauty culture ideals.

Keywords:   beauty, women, tattoos

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