Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Tattooed Lady: A History

Tattoos have always held intrigue for me (working in #8 this month!) and I was delighted to stumble across this gem, Academic librarian, Amelia Klem Osterud, pieces together a largely forgotten/overlooked past female tattoed performers and accompanies the text with beautiful photographs and illustrations.

Amelia does an excellent job describing the early tattooed beauties and their influence on women's rights, tattoos, and stereotypes in America's past and current culture. This collection is truly amazing and I enjoyed learning about some of the reasons why women covered themselves in ink and joined the circus and fled the "norm" female lifestyle. Many times it was for survival, being a tattooed woman allowed for a freer lifestyle and a relatively good income. Learning about the style and technique of tattooing was also quite fascinating (thankfully this has changed drastically).

The first generation of tattooed ladies (Nora Hildebrandt, Irene Woodward, Annie Howard - 1880's) and the second generation (Betty Broadbent, Lady Viola - 1920's) helped pave the way in how people see and understand tattoos and inspired women to rise above their status and lived in relative freedom compared to their female counterparts of the day. The author summed it up well, "These tattoed ladies made a literal mark on future generations of women, and that mark is a reminder that difference is beautiful."

No comments:

Post a Comment