Women and Tattoos

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Canada’s Toronto Star reported in September of 1997 that when Beth Seaton, professor of mass communications at York University conducted a study of the clientele at one of Toronto’s

Photo: Bartosz Ostrowski
In the last two decades, tattooing in U.S. women has quadrupled, and it is estimated that almost half of the tattoos now being done are on women.

most popular tattoo art studios, she found that 80% of the customers were “upper middle-class white suburban females.”[11]

This trend — the spreading popularity of tattooing among well-educated women in affluent suburban communities — is one of the most striking aspects of the new attitudes about the art form.

The medical journal Physician Assistant which circulates to doctors’ offices throughout the country, has alerted its readers: “Tattoos were most common among motorcyclists, criminals, gang members, and individuals with psychiatric problems… However, these stereotypical associations have changed over the past 20 years… Tattooing in women has quadrupled, and it is estimated that almost half of the tattoos now being done are on women.”[12]

The daily Bismarck Tribune of North Dakota in November, 1997, took a closer look at the clientele patronizing tattoo art studios in and around Hazen, a middle-class suburb of Bismarck. Tribunereporter Lauren Donovan reported that the 30-40-year-old age group of “Soccer Moms” is the fastest growing demographic of the local tattoo market. She wrote that four typical clients included “two hockey moms, one figure skating mom and one figure skating coach” who were “women with full lives at home, church and in the community. They couldn’t be less like the leather-wearing biker with skeleton tattoos on his chest.” One woman wore a small rose tattoo on her shoulder; another had a tiny white baby seal on her ankle. [13]

The national marketing magazine About Women, Inc., in April of 1998, published an article that reported: “Tattooing is on the rise among adult women, including professional women; almost half of all tattoos are being done on women. Professor Myrna L. Armstrong of Texas Tech University School of Nursing toldAbout Women, Inc., that several trends play into this interest in body art…for some young women, tattooing is an outward expression of the internal process of identity building…’a tattoo makes them feel good — it makes them feel special, different,’ says Armstrong.” [14]

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