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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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Toward a Tattoo Etiquette

(p.177) Conclusion
Covered in Ink

Beverly Yuen Thompson

NYU Press

The American history of heavily tattooed women began in the circus sideshow, a place where women quickly outshone men with their double allure of tattoos and revealing flesh. Tattooing has always been considered culturally deviant, and when women cross the line into heavy tattooing, they face intense social sanctions. However, many women are drawn to heavy tattooing as part of their self-expression. Tattooing provides a potential resistance to gender norms and an oppressive beauty culture. However, once women start collecting publicly visible tattoos, they often encounter resistance from their families, employers, and strangers. Employment discrimination is a prevalent issue for the participants, and they devise strategies to reconcille their love of body art with institutional norms. Heavily tattooed women are increasingly represented in mainstream television, and with the increased representation comes misinformation. How do these images affect the participants? Heavily tattooed women provide a different perspective on feminism, theories of the body, and the postmodern condition. While tattooing culture has long been androcentric in focus, Covered in Ink provided a much needed balance with women’s perspectives on the practice.

Keywords:   tattoo, theories of the body, norms

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