Stop for a second and think about this: women have only had the right to vote in the United States for a tad over a hundred years. As inalienable a right as one considers the right to vote in a democracy is, it seems ludicrous to think that half the population wasn’t considered worthy of the right until only a century ago. But that was the 20th Century. Certainly, things are so much better now, right?
If there has been one area of exploration of all things related to female empowerment, it has been body art. Tattoos for women have run the gamut from the mundane and trivial to the extreme and jarring.
A look at ancient art shows a dedication to capturing the female form. Curves were accentuated in certain areas to entice, even when etched out of the hardest of materials. What’s more, in classical art, there were no markings on the skin, either through tattooing or piercing.
Of course, tattoos for women and tattooing as a whole began to find popularity. At the turn of the last century, Maud Wagner not only adorned herself with an array of tattoos, but learned the craft herself, earning her the distinction of being the first female tattoo artist in the United States.
The 21st century has shown us that women have not lost any of the fire in their fight for rights. In fact, one could argue that fire is even more profound and driven. Tattooing, and in particular tattoos for women, are of interest and that in many respects, the art and act of tattooing is inextricably linked to feminism. For example:
Freedom Redefined — Far too often, women have been told what to do with their own bodies. Even the smallest of tattoos is an act of defiance and flies in the face of someone else’s version of what a woman should be.
Sexual Identity — A common criticism lobbed at today’s conversations about sexual identity is that everything seems so fluid and that nothing is as it once was and should be. Tattoos, in the permanence, allow for many women to proudly show to others (and to themselves) who they are and how they identify in a way that is unmistakable.
Femininity Redefined — What is feminine? What is a tattoo for a woman? If you’re still thinking about little flowers and ponies, then you might be a little behind the times…or not. Therein lies the point. If a woman chooses a particular tattoo design, it’s because she has a personal connection to it. If it happens to be a little princess in a bubblegum jumpsuit riding a dragon while slaying fire-breathing ogres with a whip made of skulls, that’s her business.
In the end, tattoos for women in the 21st century are often all about a reclamation of power and a determination to fully control one’s own body.
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