Toward a Tattoo Etiquette
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.
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