International [Tattooed] Women's Day
Today is International Women's Day. I know, every day should be women's day, men's day, animals' day...But with things like women's access to health care being eroded and the mere existence of Rush Limbaugh, it seems I just have to take any day I can get. For me, the value of this day is the reminder and opportunity for reflection on the trials and triumphs of being a woman -- a tattooed woman.
Since becoming visibly tattooed over the past decade, I've been quick to say, "My tattoos do not define me!" I believed them to be a small part of a small woman with a big mouth who likes to make grand proclamations. The whole "tattoo as a lifestyle" rhetoric never really sat well with me, largely because I felt it could further marginalize heavy collectors, who may not want to be viewed as just part of a subculture. I want to be a part of every fun, exciting, loving, weird culture. I'm wacky like that.
But the truth is that my tattoos really do play a big part of who I am. They do so in the way I view myself and also in the way I am viewed by others. As I get older and become less stupid and more confident, my tattoos are an expression of beauty and badassness. I love the way I look in them. Instead of mourning the wrinkles, dimples, and toll of gravity, I stick a pretty picture on my body and call myself MaMA, the Marisa Museum of Art. And hell yeah, tattoos are still badass. They still hurt. You still have to manage stares, strangers touching you, dumb questions, and lecherous come-ons from guys who still quote Wedding Crashers. And you got to do it all even on those days you want to hide under your desk. When I'm getting tattooed and don't think I can last through the session, the mantra that runs through my head is, "You're a freakin warrior. You're a freakin warrior!" [Imagine the Brooklyn accent.]
Tattooed women are warriors.
And we need to be respected in this way, in popular culture and in our own "subculture."
Our industry media should reflect a diversity of beauty from the diverse community of tattoo collectors. Equal page counts should be given to pin-ups, painters and professors in our magazines. Female tattooists should be known for their portfolios and not just a sexy spread and cool nickname. And, ya know, sexy spreads are great but can we have some male eye candy in our media as well? I'll pay good money for it. Once we start showing this respect in our own community, those outside will follow. We can show that girls with dragon tattoos need not always be sullen, vengeful hackers or hard-partying vixens. We can show that we are scientists, school teachers, bankers, bakers, moms, mathematicians, lounge singers, lawyers and nerdy holier-than-thou bloggers.
However we define ourselves, tattooed women should be celebrated and valued, today and every day. And we shouldn't be satisfied with just taking what we can get.