I was able to spend some time with my buddy Phil Padwe, author of children’s book Mommy Has a Tattoo, while at the United Ink Tattoo Convention on Long Island, July 2012. Check out more pictures here. I didn’t cover the convention as much as I expected to, as I got caught up talking with Phil mostly, but Marissa wrote about the convention on her blog.
Tattoos are now considered mainstream, with an estimated twenty-five to thirty percent of all adults having at least one. Reality television and the fashion industry have immersed the mainstream American living room into tattoo culture. And more people than ever are getting tattoos—especially women. According to tattooists, women now comprise over fifty percent of all clientele! While Miami Ink and LA Ink are making the tattooing experience assessable to the public, the tattoo community reminds us that it is still television, with all its misrepresentations, distortions, and exclusions. Covered Women: Navigating the Social Stigma of Ink goes beyond the superficiality of reality television and describes the experiences and social context of heavily tattooed women via empirical sociological research. Covered Women will appeal to a mainstream audience captivated by tattoo culture, students, social scientists, and the curious.
While there are books and academic articles on the practice of tattooing, these writings cover limited and stereotypical areas: indigenous cultures’ use of body modification, criminal and gang related tattooing, psychological disorder literature, photography books, and the history of men in tattooing. Covered Women is different. Covered Womendescribes the contemporary American tattooing community, women’s tattoo narratives, social reactions, provides historical balance, and includes stunning photographs.
Covered Women’s main objective is to present the experience of heavily tattooed women: their love of ink, their imagery selection, their experiences of prejudice from strangers, family, employers, and impacts of media representations. While other books and media focus exclusively on the tattoo designs, Covered Women takes a macro-sociological approach to understanding heavily tattooed women in society as they struggle with gender norms, employment discrimination, family rejection, and social stigma. Women’s experiences within the tattoo community are so very rarely mentioned within tattoo books; therefore, a book devoted to their place in this subculture is imperative. Covered Women is based upon five years of ethnographic research in the United States’ tattooing community. Utilizing participant observation, interviews, and visual sociological artifacts (photography and documentary film)—this book provides an insight into the world of women and tattooing—the only book based upon such in-depth, empirical, nationwide, and visual research.
Covered is now fully online! Please watch, comment, and spread the word!
Margaret Cho, another heavily tattooed woman, reviewed Covered on her blog recently. Check out the copy here.
Covered, a documentary about heavily tattooed women and female tattoo artists, screened at Bluestocking Bookstore in NYC on February 11, 2011. This video is a short clip from the Q&A with filmmaker Beverly Yuen Thompson and participant Margarita Alcantara.