tattooed women: why we need to eliminate “gender appropriate” standards

photos of yours truly thanks to Pat Ortiz.

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What is the first thing you think whenever you see a woman with visible tattoos in public? I can think of a few things myself, but my opinion is completely biased–because I am one of those women.

Since I was a teen, I’ve considered myself slightly on the ‘radical feminist’ side of the population as it pertains to politics, spirituality, socialist issues, and abilities shaped by race, classism, and gender. I think nudity is natural–after all, we were born without clothes.

My body is my soul’s temple. And it was created by God. Therefore, I view it as a beautiful portrait that should be celebrated–not hidden or shamed.

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I’ve had most of my ink since my teen years. And I made a conscious decision back then to make them easy to cover up for the comfort and standards of people around me. It wasn’t until maybe about 2 years ago that I made a promise to myself that I would fully embrace the ink I had chosen so long ago to adorn my temple with. It’s funny–a lot of people didn’t know I even had tattoos until recently when I started practicing this self-love.

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The “ladylike” tendencies and modesty I possess in public are a direct result of what society has deemed acceptable for women to carry on in their everyday behaviors and choice of words in our expression.

We are taught to cross our legs, wear heels to elongate them (because apparently they are one of our best assets to men), cover up our scars and stretch marks, wear a waist shaper or a push-up-bra to ‘enhance’ features after bearing children, wear stockings to hide varicose veins and make our legs look prettier. We learn early in life that tattoos, piercings, or any other form of decorative body modifications is “against the grain”, “radical”, and “rebellious”.

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In the book “Covered In Ink” by Beverly Yuen Thompson, the question of what is considered ‘gender appropriate’ among women is asked. She says, “The message that heavily tattooed women receive from the public is loud and clear: They are mutilating their bodies and making themselves ugly. Yet, in an interesting twist, the women reframe tattooing from their own perspective—tattoos are beautiful, they are marks of individuality…

For women, part of becoming heavily tattooed is to negotiate this decision within our beauty culture. In order to collect large, public, and so-called ugly tattoos, the women have to defend their choices on a daily basis. This is often a difficult position, even for the most confident.”

Tattoos are art. Your body is art.

Today we see an influx of women wearing their ink with pride–still maintaining their “ladylike / femininity” with amazing art to enhance. I love it. In my opinion, you are the co-owner of your body–you may choose to adorn it however you please. And you should always put yourself in the forefront of that decision making process. Don’t curve anything that pleases you to appease to those around you. If freedom from human judgement is high on your priority list of things to accomplish in this lifetime, it is a good idea to practice self-love through a liberty of artistic expression.

Do you live in a place where tattoos are acceptable? Do you have tattoos–and if so, what impression do you feel you give off by showing them in public? I’d love to know.

Let’s continue the conversation on Instagram + Twitter – @DevriVelazquez

3 thoughts on “tattooed women: why we need to eliminate “gender appropriate” standards Leave a comment

  1. First off, you are absolutely stunning. Im a young, chronically ill, heavily tattooed women. My tattoos are not the sort you can hide, theyre on my neck, hands, side of my face… I live in an upper class town, There’s a lot of money round these ways, I feel judged. But I don’t give a fuck. People stare. A lot. Especially when I have lilac coloured hair and use a mobility aid. Id stare at me too!! xo

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