The Sexualization of Tattoos
Tattoos have always attracted some kind of controversy. We know tattoos were once relatively exclusive and seen on military men, circus folks, and inmates. So, over the years tattoos had to evolve and despite the amazing pieces by devoted artists, tattooing had to fight hard to earn the same respect as other art forms. Unfortunately, there’s still the idea that the tattoo industry is aimed at a specific audience or carries a negative context.
Bad Reputation When was it decided that tattooed individuals would be linked with a reputation for risque behavior? Maybe this idea ignited when the term tramp stamp was coined in the late ’90s, maybe it was introduced by reality TV shows, such as Rock of Love, showing tattooed women acting irrational, or maybe it’s been a concept that was born before any of these factors existed.
The Founding Women In as early as 1909 Maud Wagner was one of the first openly tattooed women. She worked out of the circus and would be tattooed as a performance with her husband and teacher, Gus Wagner. (Gus Wagner would later apprentice her to tattoo.) Some were fascinated by this new art on the skin concept, others saw it as disturbing, unladylike, and reckless. In Britain, another female artist and tattooed woman, Jessie Knight, also endured negative attention for her lifestyle. Jessie was born in 1904, the daughter of a sailor; she too worked as a circus performer. Despite her success, people began to slander her, saying things like she used dirty supplies and lived a provocative lifestyle. She still went on to win awards for her tattooing. Even before the birth of Social Media and television entertainment, women were still stereotyped for their tattoos.
The Impact of social media platforms: There is freedom in being able to post various tattoo images online. There will always be some people showing more skin and that’s their right to self-expression. For each man or women posting something that’s considered more on the risque side, there’s also a post that’s aimed directly on a tattoo or artist. We don’t just lean on sexualization to advertise the creative, individualistic industry that is the tattoo world.
Tattoos are linked to alternative forms and lifestyles. Come as you are. Tattooing is a place for free thinkers, people who have been outsiders, and really they have open doors to anyone. Do we attract some sexualized individuals? Yes. But, we are not limited to one type of demographic. There are several styles of tattooing, from traditional to pop culture. We can be spontaneous, we can also be precise and planned.
The Choice is Yours You will see what you want to see. You’ll see boobs and ass and more provocative imagery, but you’ll also find detailed, astonishing pieces, art on skin. People will always have an opinion about who you are, with or without actually knowing. Maybe people with tattoos have thicker skin because that’s what they needed to adapt in the sometimes negative environment.