Thursday, June 26, 2003

Ladies who tattoo

I keep a curious eye out for the phenomenon of body art, and was sent this article in the Sydney Morning Herald about the growing popularity of tattoos for middle-class women in London. It seems that a Selfridges department store has opened a tattoo department that is doing a fair amount of business-- enough for the store's managers to want to keep the department.

It's interesting the way body art is perceived. In tribal cultures, tattoos, scarification, piercing, etc. are a symbol of belonging, but in Western culture they've long been the symbol of the outsider: criminals, soldiers, rebels, rockstars, etc. They were especially stigmatic for women. Now they are becoming a fashion symbol for the middle class, acceptable even for 44-year-old housewives.

What do I think of tattoos? Well, I don't know that I'd get one for myself, because I'm pretty fickle (though I do have my bellybutton pierced), but I do find many of them fascinating and beautiful. For those that dare to go under the needle, I'm sure it can be a great form for self-expression.

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