The meaning of tattooing for women during this ‘‘tattoo renaissance’’ and links to the self

Tattoo and the self

From Clothing and Textiles Research Journal

The past 30 years in Western culture have been labelled a ‘‘tattoo renaissance’’ with increases not only in the number of individuals getting tattoos but also in television shows featuring tattoo artists and tattooed individuals as well as in the availability of temporary tattoos for both adults and children. Tattooing has shifted from a predominantly male practice to a female-dominated one, as the number of women getting tattooed has surpassed that of men.

The purpose of this study was to better understand tattooed women focusing on how having a tattoo influenced both self perceptions and subsequent behaviors. In-depth interviews of thirty tattooed women served as the data. The study focused on relationships between tattoos as one form of dress and the self, what tattoos mean to the people who get them, how individuals viewed themselves after getting tattooed, and how tattoos change their behaviors. Tattoos held several meanings for participants including connection to self, life events, relationships, and spirituality. The paper provides new insights of young women’s experiences after getting a tattoo and the meanings they linked to their tattoos.

Abstract

There has been an increase in the numbers of women getting tattoos. The purpose of this study was to better understand tattooed women focusing on how having a tattoo influenced both self perceptions and subsequent behaviors. Our study was guided by three research questions: (1) What meaning do women assign to their tattoos and to what extent were these meanings dynamic? (2) What changes in self perception did women attribute to their being tattooed? (3) What changes in behavior did women attribute to their being tattooed? In-depth interviews of thirty tattooed women served as our data. Tattoos held several meanings for participants including connection to self, life events, relationships, and spirituality. Tattoos were closely related to some aspect of the self (82%). For some participants the meaning changed over time (61%). The act of obtaining tattoos resulted in a change in how participants viewed themselves and their behavior.

 

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Article details
Jung Mee Mun, Kristy A. Janigo, and Kim K. P. Johnson
Tattoo and the Self
Clothing and Textiles Research Journal April 2012 30: 134-148, first published on June 6, 2012 doi:10.1177/0887302X12449200

 

 

 

     
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