The Tattooed Woman: An Exploration into the Motivations & Experiences of Women who Tattoo
(2015) The Tattooed Woman: An Exploration into the Motivations & Experiences of Women who Tattoo, no. 84.
This research explores the motivations and experiences of women who are visibly heavily tattooed. The research is conducted within a context in which there is a noticeable increase in the amount of women participating in tattooing. There has also, recently, been media outrage in relation to heavily tattooed women, with one such story about a heavily tattooed female primary school teacher who was sent home on her first day because the school had not been aware that she was tattooed before offering her the position. A phenomenological enquiry establishes the methodological and theoretical outlook which this study was conducted through. Semi-structured interviews and the rigorous process of thematic analysis resulted in the generation of data and the subsequent analysis of this. Utilising a historical contextualization of women and tattooing from Mifflin (2013) and DeMello (2000) provided insight into the historical relationship between women and tattooing and society's un-acceptance of this. Applying Butler (2006), de Beauvoir (1974) and McRobbie's (2009) concepts of the contested nature of femininity along with Foucault's (1977) concept of the body as linked to ideologies of power and Goffman's (1963) theory of stigma, findings reveal that visibly heavily tattooed women do experience stigma and discrimination as a result of society's expectations of femininity and negative views of tattooing. The theory of self-presentation (Goffman 1999) provided a paradigm from which to explain tattooing as an act of performance through identity processes. Furthermore, contemporary contributions to the research on women and tattooing from Mun et al (2012), Kang et al (2007) and Hawkes et al (2004) coincide with findings that women are motivated to tattoo for a diversity of reasons, including grief, memories and self-control.