January 11, 2008

"But Didn't That Hurt?"

By Western standards, there is nothing ladylike about being tattooed. Standards of acceptable beauty for women still dictate unblemished skin. The female body can be adorned with ear piercings, make up and silicon implants, but any form of decoration that radically challenges main stream beauty standards is sure to raise eyebrows.

 Tattooing is an undeniably strong statement and, for many, a disconcerting display of trauma and ferocity. While some feminists may feel more comfortable with healing circles, new moon rituals and writing exercises designed to draw out the “inner child,” a newer generation of women may relate to the healing process in an altogether different way…it typically marks an important stage in a woman’s life— a process of discovering, exploring and learning on the very surface of the body.

Many women seek out tattoos for altogether joyful reasons—to celebrate ethnic, spiritual or cultural heritages; to mark exciting life transitions or to display lifelong beautification. to dismiss tattoos as a form of self-oppression is to miss out on a fascinating complexity behind each woman’s decision to adorn her body with one or more permanent designs. Much of the time, tattoos on a woman truly says something about her character, her life and her spirit
—Silija J. A Talvi in Body Outlaws