As early as the nineteenth century women were modifying their bodies with tattoos as a way to seek employment; this employment consisted mainly of circus sideshows or “freak shows.” These women were most often regarded as outcasts and rebels and were frequently scorned and ridiculed. “At that time, positive associations with tattoos were limited to upper class women; these women were recognized as brave and noble as well as beautiful” (Hawkes, Senn, and Thorn 594.) There was a resurgence of tattooing in the 1920s and again in the late 1960s and early 1970s which brought not only an increase in the number of women receiving tattoos but also in the number of female tattoo artists. Unlike their predecessors these women were not tattooing their bodies as means to gain employment but as a form of self-expression and rebellion. Yet they still met with discrimination and negative attitudes when it came to their tattoos.
In today’s society, over one hundred years since the days of the tattooed women in circus side shows, women who choose to tattoo themselves still meet resistance and adverse reactions. “It has been estima...
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..., total approval of women with tattoos is still a long way off. The tattoo industry is still male dominated, even with 50% of clients being made up of females. Even though groups exist that attempt to empower tattooed women, such as The Gypsy Queens, those women who choose to alter their bodies with ink continue to face social discrimination. Thompson made an excellent point by saying that a “critical step that can be taken is for employment discrimination against tattooed people to end” and that “people should only be fired on the basis of their work performance, not their appearance.” Being a heavily tattooed woman I agree wholeheartedly. As a society we need to promote acceptance and understanding. Each person should be judged solely on their merits and capability; whether or not I choose to tattoo my body should not be a determining factor in any facet of life.
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