This is an essay about bodies in revolt. Tattooed women complicate recent body theory by staging an aesthetic revolution in "feminine" beauty. My research combines elements of participant observation, oral history, archival research, and the use of secondary sources in order to trace the motives of, and cultural responses to, tattooed women. This essay will proceed through several competitive venues, from the nineteenth century to the present, where the meaning of tattoos for women, and the concomitant authority over women's bodies, has been challenged: from beauty salons to courtrooms, high society to the working class, freak shows to tattoo contests, soft porn to novels. By demonstrating the ruptures that have occurred at various points of conflicts between and among these sites, I will show how aspects of what I am calling monster beauty have developed. I will argue that we read the risks women have taken in becoming tattooed in terms of a revolutionary aesthetic for women.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 1-23
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.