Re: Mutilation and ritual

Rosemary Gianno (rgianno@KEENE.EDU)
Mon, 15 Jul 1996 14:24:45 -0500

>In a message dated 96-07-13 11:21:40 EDT, kaminow@GWIS2.CIRC.GWU.EDU (Beth E.
>Kaminow) writes:
>> Two examples: my last tattoo is on my lower back. The guy that
>> did my tattoo tells me that that's becoming a fairly popular place for
>> woman on account of the cropped shirt coming back in vogue (or actually
>> those two styles kind of play off each other). I was recently at a party
>> where one of the guests gleefully went about lifting his shirt to show
>> his nipple ring.
>Beth brings up a good point that reflects something John McCreery discusses
>in another post. There has always been a relationship between fashion and
>body mutilations (Steele; Kunzle; Polhemus; Rudofsky, Thevoz; Brain). Body
>mutilations are intended to be permanent and fashion, is by its nature,
>non-static. Interesting that today, one is hard pressed to find a model in
>NYC or Europe, male or female, who does not sport a tattoo. I can't remember
>the last time I saw a CK ad without a tattooed body part in it. Now, does
>this place tattoos in the same category as blonde, big breasted, "Kate Moss"
>waifism? A trend in the fashion industry? I have always been much more
>interested in the bodies that wear the clothes than the clothes themselves.
>So, in response to Beth's comment - which came first the chicken or the egg?
>Are crop tops in b/c they reveal tattoos on the models who wear them, or does
>wearing a crop top lead to wanting a tattoo? Did arm bands become popular
>during a fashion phase of sleeveless tops?
>- Adrienne

I was just going through the local yellow pages looking for something else
and happened to notice the subject heading "tattoos removed" and under it
the UMass Medical center with its 800 number. They had to pay to put that
in the Keene, New Hampshire phone book, indicating that this has become a
business in its own right.

Perhaps when people get these tattoos they are looking to show a permanent
commitment to something and the yellow pages show that this commitment is
sometimes, sadly, short-lived, as with fashion. It may be symbolic
therefore, at some level, of a nostalgia that some people have of more
long-term commitment to ideas, groups, and other individuals.
Rosemary Gianno