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The act of becoming ‘heavily tattooed’, with its historical association with deviant subcultures, continues to carry a social stigma and evoke negative sanctions. This is…
The act of becoming ‘heavily tattooed’, with its historical association with deviant subcultures, continues to carry a social stigma and evoke negative sanctions. This is especially so for women, who must also contend with gender norms within the highly masculinised tattoo subculture. For women, the experience of becoming heavily tattooed comes to represent an embodied resistance to normative ideals of beauty, against which the participants construct their own alternative gender and beauty philosophies. Besides gender norms, the tattoo world has specific ethos which divides the serious subcultural member from those more casually connected to it. The physical parameter of the subculture finds people gathering in tattoo studios and at tattoo conventions, as well as consuming tattoo-oriented media, such as magazines and television shows. This study draws on in-depth interviews with 36 participants across the United States who consider themselves serious tattoo collectors. From their stories, we learn about the importance of participating in this leisure activity and how becoming heavily tattooed impacts their sense of self, gender and identity.
Over the last decade, there has been a substantial rise in the popularity of tattooing in the UK, and a subsequent increase in tattooed female bodies. As explored by…
Over the last decade, there has been a substantial rise in the popularity of tattooing in the UK, and a subsequent increase in tattooed female bodies. As explored by Walter (2010), key for the women of today is that they have a choice, to conform to stereotypical constructions of femininity, or resist them. However, tension lies in the ways that these choices are already constrained by socially imposed boundaries. In exploring constructions of tattooed female bodies, a stratified sample of 14 tattooed women were interviewed, with the transcripts being analysed using a discursive–narrative approach. Reflexivity forms a key part of the analysis, as I research a tattooed woman, with some of the insider–outsider intersections informing the analysis. Here, the discourse of unwritten rules and social norms is explored, with a specific focus on how tattooed women construct ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ choices in respect to the tattoos they and others get, the expectation and the normalisation of the pain of getting and having a tattoo, and finally, the generational difference in respect to how tattoos are accepted and understood.
This paper brings a fresh contribution to the role of space and places in Consumer Culture Theory. Investigating the context of tattooing, it conceptualizes the various…
This paper brings a fresh contribution to the role of space and places in Consumer Culture Theory. Investigating the context of tattooing, it conceptualizes the various articulations that link the body as a topia and a utopia, and the street shops (as “other” places or heterotopia) where consumers’ identity projects are undertaken.
Our approach is based on an ethnographic work, that is, the observation of the shop and interviews conducted with its two managers, three male tattooists, and a young female apprentice.
We show how the changes that affect heterotopic places in the world of tattooing impact the way body identity projects are taken care of. We highlight the material and symbolic exchanges that “take place” and “make place” between the shop as a heterotopia and people’s utopias of the body.
The research involves a single fieldwork and deliberately focuses on the female apprentice as the main informant of this study.
This paper draws attentions to the emergence of women in the world of tattooing and their transformative role of highly gendered meanings and practices.
Originality/value of paper
In articulating the links between bodies, their utopias and heterotopic places where these are carried out, we contribute not only to the understanding of the meaning that consumers attribute to the transformation of their body, but also to the role played by spaces – sites as well as gendered bodies – in our understanding of these phenomena.
In order to emphasize in-depth analyses of individual life stories, seven informants were selected. Since breadth of experience will contribute to a more detailed…
In order to emphasize in-depth analyses of individual life stories, seven informants were selected. Since breadth of experience will contribute to a more detailed contextualization of the consumer's use of products in identity negotiation, diversity across informants was emphasized. Interviews generally followed the format as suggested by Thompson, Locander, and Pollio (1989). A comfortable setting was chosen and pseudonyms were used to ensure anonymity. Interviews were audio-taped and lasted anywhere from one to just over two hours. Grand tour questions (McCracken, 1988) focused on the meaning of the tattoo design, the experience of being tattooed, perceptions of the body, words the informants used to describe themselves, and other biographical information important for understanding the informant's personal myth. Every effort was made to present a natural front, keep the informant on track without being too directive, demonstrate active listening, and prompt the informant as a way of probing for details (Spradley, 1979). To ensure accuracy, an experienced and trained transcriptionist transcribed each of the seven interviews. The final text totaled 450 typed double-spaced pages.