There was an era when people paid to see women covered in tattoos, days in age when women with ink were part of the freak show at a circus. Now we see women of all ages with tattoos today as a commonality. What has gone from taboo is now mainstream. Although body ink is becoming increasingly more socially acceptable, tattoos will always still hold those distasteful stereotypes that flood individual’s minds when they see a tatted up woman. Can attest to this as my parents were not the happiest of people when they found out I had gotten a tattoo within the iris 0,’10 weeks of college; classic.
These opinions formulated by the misjudging, about women with tattoos, have ranged from seeing the inked as protectors of children, freaks, uncivilized, sluts, heavy drinkers, and unprofessional. These stereotypes are fading though. Although in some cases the tattooed woman is still scrutinized and negatively perceived, the general population today is evolving to be more open-minded towards the idea of the human canvas, which is how it should be. Flashback to c. 2000 B. C. In ancient Egypt. Bodies preserved in a wrapping some with traces of ink, only left to alp unroll the story and evolution of tattoos.
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Researchers of the British Museum utilized a computed tomography to further examine the reminisce of a tattoo found on the body on a female ancient mummy dating back to 700 A. D. Upon her examination curators identified the marking to indeed be a tattoo placed on her inner thigh. The tattoo read M-I-X-A-H-A, or as we know it “Michael. ” Maureen Tillie, a professor at Fordham University, says, “Michael is an obvious identity for a tattoo as this is the most powerful of the angels. ” Tracing back to these days and seeing my friend get a classic cross tattoo, its Lear that religious and spiritual tattoos have always been a theme guess.
After conducting further research though, curators found it was not only this mummified woman that was discovered with angelic tattoos, but many others as well. A dwarf god of ancient Egypt, Bess, became repetitive among the body art of the ancient bodies. Bess was admired and known by the Egyptians to be the god of childbirth. He was in charge of scaring away any evil spirits during pregnancy or the birth itself in order to ensure protection to the mother and her child at this high-risk time (Hill). In ancient Egypt, it was essential that omen got married and had children.
In fact, these two ambitions were imperative and frowned upon if not done at a young age. Having a child was a blessing at this time, sure it still is today, but the Egyptians saw procreation as the whole meaning of life. Although so valued, the risks that came along with childbirth were extremely high. Women were known to have died while in labor and if not then, possibly from childbed fever. The mortality rate of newborns for these times was between 30 and 50 percent, with the rate of dying mothers during birth being even greater (Royal Ontario Museum).
Due o these sometimes-terminal childbirths, tattoos of the birth gods and angelic symbols were vastly encouraged. Women who received these markings before pregnancy were considered great followers of the Egyptian culture and the ancient world beliefs (Eyeliners). Tattooed women at this time in their lives “gained the respect of society, approval from their husbands, and the admiration of their less-fortunate sisters and sterile friends” (Teletypes). AY no point in this era were women with body art looked down upon or seen as any sort of uncivilized.
In fact this time may have been the only period in which tattooed women were not stereotyped or at any disadvantage in society. Tattoos first surfaced among the ancient Egyptians, but it wasn’t until 1851 that the first tattoo appeared in the United States. Where as body art today is voluntary and the one receiving the ink chooses the desired art and placement, young Olive Ottoman had no choice. A young girl, age 13, was surprisingly enough the one to introduce this type of art to America; but it was not considered anything close to art at this time.
Sure not too close of stories, in me trying to relate Ottoman and myself, but I can sure as hell assume her parents were just as mad (if not more mad), than my parents were when first seeing my tattoo. Tallest I was finally considered an “adult” in the world at age 18 when first getting my tattoo, but young Ottoman… Sit she just grew out of pampers. The Yapping Indians abducted Ottoman. After taking the young child, the Native Americans forcibly tattooed the helpless girl’s chin and arm. “She wore five parallel line stretching from her lower lip to her jailing, framed on each side by two cone-shaped horizontal lines” (Muffling 1997).
Quite frankly, if this were me, I’d be so passed- having to walk around tit some unwanted bullish design plastered to my face- and passed is a huge understatement. Tattooing in the Native American culture among the tribes wasn’t considered art; it represented some sort of belonging, or symbol of one’s status within the tribe. In Ottoman’s case not so much; the marking placed on her chin and arm itemized her. The Yapping Indians traded her to the Mojave for blankets. Fair trade right? I’ll give you this girl for a lattice of string or wool woven together.
Deal says the Mojave; and just like that she was given away. Ottoman was rescued at a later date and you’d think she loud have received the loving welcome home from family, friends and the rest of her village upon her return, but no. Olive Ottoman began touring and spoke to the public telling her Story. She became the “first American to display her tattooed body commercially’ (Muffling 1997). You’d think others hearing her story would feel sorry for her, or show maybe even the slightest bit of sympathy for her- I know I do, but this is the common misconception.
It wasn’t just the now permanent mark on her skin but the mark people associated with her gave her, that overwhelmed the poor girl and made her drown in the darkness of her past. She went from a normal young innocent girl; to being nothing more than an item of trade, to the tattooed savage her people saw her as. Muffling states, “she became, in essence, a De-civilized freak, and could never fully rejoin society as a ‘natural’ woman” (Muffling 1997). The ridicule and hatred of society hit Ottoman hard. She became the reject of society and many saw her as some sort of monster.
This odd and bizarre story of a young girl once tattooed by a tribe, bringing tattoos back home, had inspired many of the tattooed circus women that were seen in the coming industry. For me it’s hard to imagine a day in age when people paid to see women with tattoos. That seems more than ridiculous to me today as see so many women around covered in body art. While these circus women too bore the marks of what some might have considered a ‘savage’ they also set some new standards of feminine beauty in the time (Muffling 1997).
Nora Hildebrandt, “the mother of all tattooed circus women,” came to New York in 1882. Her arrival drawled in numerous other tattooed women that had wished to display their tattoos among the public for some easy money- and don’t we all just love easy money. Circuses of rivalry would hire these women to be in their freak shows and pay them generous amounts (Eliding 1). It didn’t take long for women covered in body art to flock from all over the world to the scene of the circus. Irene Woodward, better known as La Belle Irene proclaimed herself to be the first ever tattooed women exhibited in the circus.
Where as Hildebrandt displayed 365 works of art, Woodward beat her out when she eventually covered her entire body with ink- and my parents told me one is enough… Good one mom and dad, try a body’s worth. Woodward’s debut managed to make the New York Times and for a second in society, that tattoos on display were of amazement to the public. “Her first public sitting was described in loving and surprisingly open-minded detail, from her ‘pleasing appearance’ to her ‘artistic’ (and remarkably narrative) tattoos” (Muffling 1997).
By the time Woodward had passed in 1 91 5, she had become almost an icon for women wanting to express themselves with tattoos. She was honored in a way that after her passing 38 wax figures of her were created to place in museums of her home country. People not only admired her as a human piece of art, but some endeavored to be like her. Fakes were uncovered all the time trying to mimic the work of Woodward and Hildebrandt, take the famous Serpentine for example, a woman who posed in body paint. Quite frankly I too admire the art of tattoos.
This moment or glimpse Of acceptance Of some sort for women with tattoos became a stepping-stone in the growth and evolution of stereotypes given to women with body art. The tattooed women or ‘freaks’ of this time (not to be misinterpreted-??freaks, only due to their rarity) were finally not seen as just a strong believer in some culture or gods, or some coarse savage, but a woman simply showing of art. Woodward herself states it best when she said, ‘The lady… Is not offensive to anyone, no matter how sensitive they may be. Her tattooing is of itself a beautiful dress. You should have seen the look on my parent’s faces when I revealed my “beautiful dress. ” – put it this way, they hated it and wish it could be returned… But Sit that ink is permanent. This idea permanency’s’ is what makes tattoos even more intriguing that just a piece of art; at least think so. Forever it will remain there, almost as just a memory of the past. I do always find it hilarious though when you see the one Oman with her lovers name tattooed on her followed by “forever” only to find out the forever part never happened.
But as Jordan Spark says, ” Just like a tattoo, I’ll always have you… ” Even if it is just a memory. Back to the point though, avis really no one else’s business what one puts on themselves as far as tattoos go, but thanks to this judgmental world we still let opinions and first impressions somewhat sway us- I try’ not to do this. Even with such progress in opinions of women with tattoos, the topic still has its setbacks. Imagine a society with a constantly growing tattoo industry. One in which here is fact that more skilled tattooists are indeed woman.
Or what about a society in which more women are tattooed than males. Would you believe me if I said this is our society today. What has originated in ancient Egypt being more of a female habit or practice is now in full circle. Sure, there is certainly a range according to severity and expanse of women’s tattoos that society considers, but often times the tatted women of today still experience selected stereotyping. Whether it be a simple tattoo or one of more complexity every women has her reasons for receiving the body art.
Best Ink, a TV show, inducted a poll that resulted in 40 percent of women claiming to have made the tattoo experience a shared one (Sinai-Roy 2012). Meaning that these women got their tattoos with either a family member of friends. Others get tattoos for more personal reasons, or maybe sometimes its not even really all that personal or meaningful but just a design that catches the eye; simply getting a tattoo for the love of the art. I was one of the people that would have answered yes to the poll when it asked if made my tattoo experience a shared one. So there was at the tattoo parlor, second week of college, with here of my good friends.
No, my friends and I didn’t all get the matching OFF tattoos, but we each got one that we picked ourselves. My one friend got an anchor, another got a cross, and the other got ” be the change” tattooed along her foot- and me, well being that I decided within a short period of time to get this done, I was unsure of what I really wanted but decide to get the words “live free” tattooed across my ribs. Loved the idea of having control of life and not letting anything control me being who I am and wanted to be, having no inner or outer influences, just living life.
After getting it done, absolutely loved it and to this day I have always thought about getting another just unsure once again of what to get it of. What may start as just one small tattoo has been known to turn in to a masterpiece of multiple tattoos. Cappuccino, a trusted and popular tattooist, said it himself, ‘the people tattoo are in it for the long haul. I very rarely tattoo an individual just once. My clients are getting bigger work and more coverage… Its almost becoming a lifestyle” (2012).
I think this is what my parents were afraid of when they found out about my tattoo, along with the minor troubles it could ring in the future due to our bias society. To be honest I probably should have thought about getting a tattoo for more than the 48 hours took to debate the decision to get one or not. But nope, went for it. I certainly don’t regret my decision, but am for sure happy with my decision when it came to placement; a controlled spot one where I could hide it when it needed to be hidden but also could flaunt it when wanted to. Because in a society like today… Ell damn everyone is so judgmental, and fast to form opinions. It was obvious to me my parents had concerns; ” You can’t let it show at a job interview,” ” No more tattoos. This is the kind of Sit I heard until I explained to them it Was ‘hidden. ‘ But why does it even matter if it showed? The answer is within society. A woman covered in tattoos walks down the street turning heads left and right, not because of the striking beauty of the art but because in most people’s minds theft saying holy Sit! The tattoos that cover her body don’t change her as a person though, underneath all that ink it’s that same woman.
Maybe to some its just shocking to see that or hard to understand why someone would chose to cover them selves in tattoos, but no one ever takes time to think why. Have though. A tattoo is full of meaning and even if it means nothing to you it very well could mean the world to someone else. This is why people get tattoos; because of love and passion of or for something. This expressing of oneself through their skin though often times makes it easy for Others to formulate untrue opinions and assumptions or leaves them at a disadvantage; take Charlotte Tumults for prime example.
This young mother of two was hired to be a teaching assistant at a primary school, but within an hour of showing up on her first day for work she was sent home. Why? Because part of her neck tattoo was peeking out above her hire collar. The school told her this was inappropriate. Tumults was repulsed and said, “They prejudiced me because they could see a few tattoos” (Newton 2014). To me it seems ridiculous that this woman was sent away just because her tattoos were showing. There was nothing “bad” about them; no tattooing promoting use of drugs or alcohol or displaying anything that would be considered inappropriate.
She was merely sent away based on the assumptions made by staff when seeing the tattoos, yet they were the ones whom had hired her in the first place; but yah know… Now that she has tattoos, kick out! -Bullish. It’s obvious today that people have different opinions of women with tattoos. I for one look at tattoos of works of art and see them more for their beauty; a beauty that brings a long with it no judgment. I find it fascinating to be able to somewhat read someone simply by looking at them, not because I’m physic or something, but because you car tell something about the person by what they get tattooed.
The art begins to form a story, a telling of his or her life or what they love or believe in. Today so many people don’t see tattoos in this way. Right away people may think lowly of the person covered in ink, but still I ask why? From what once started in the early world as tattoos being noted as respectable, grew to become a new normal in our societies today, yet the connotations people group to women with tattoos is turned around now to be a negative thing.
A poll was taken by a group of researchers, the information that they gathered concluded that the subjects thought of women with tattoos as “more sexually promiscuous and to be consuming more alcohol during a night out” (Clop 2010). Mean yeah we all know ‘girls just want have fun,’ but just cause a woman has a tattoo clearly does not mean all these things, that’s nonsensical! Who knew a marking could automatically make you some kind of slut or an alcoholic in one’s eyes, in most cases someone who doesn’t even know you.