Sunday, April 5, 2015

Tattoos on Women

In the film we watched in class, I felt really connected with the hispanic girl whose mother was visibly upset at her daughter having tattoos. I think native culture and ethnicity plays a huge role in the perception of tattoos. The mother thought having a tattoo was a mark of satanism in her daughter. She told the audience she could never look at her daughter the same way again. To her, a part of the daughter she knew was taken away. Though the mother was strongly influenced by religion in the documentary, I imagine my mother would react similarly upset. I do not have a tattoo, but I've been wanting one for quite a while. But my mother is vehemently against it. I grew up in an Indian household. Though considered by many Americans to be strict, my parents were actually significantly modern and Americanized by comparison to other Indian parents. I have personally never seen an Indian raised in India with a tattoo unless they were a celebrity. Celebrities engage in western culture more often, and so tattoos are more common on them but still not a regular occurrence. Tattoos in India seem to be mostly restricted to the "Backward Classes," and then further restricted to tribal people. (Henna is extremely common in India to all people but the staining is not permanent.)
My mother doesn't claim that a tattoo marks me as a tribal caste. Nor does she think I won't reach moksha (Hindu equivalent of nirvana) with a tattoo. Her argument is that it ruins my body. Why would I ever want a permanent mark on my body I wasn't born with? She thinks all permanent changes to the body are "stupid" unless medically necessary. She thinks all tattoos are ridiculous, on men or women. She automatically thinks less of someone if they have a tattoo. One night, my mother woke up from a dreaming screaming so loudly it woke up the whole house. When asked what was wrong, she said she had a dream I got a tattoo on my back. My sister and I started cracking up in laughter at the thought that one of the things she feared most was her daughter getting a tattoo. But in her mind, it was one of the worst things I could have done. It would be equivalent to throwing my life and potential away.

Tattoos on women are viewed in a very different light than those on men. Some people think women are meant to be pure, and thus having a permanent mark on your body that tarnishes your beauty can be seen as far more deviant than if the same mark was on a man. People don't generally look at men and think how pure they look. Sometimes they have noticeable scars and they have the choice to look rugged. But many people think women are meant to look "clean" and "pure." As the film we watched stated, some people think a tattoo reduces femininity. However, it is unclear if those people think a tattoo reduces femininity by giving a woman a "masculine" trait (tattoo) or removing a woman's "feminine" trait (pure skin). Or can people not generally make the distinction between the two?

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