When the earliest Tattooed men and womens stories began reaching Western Europe they were generally assumed to be primitives lacking in intelligence or even barbaric because of their ritual tattooing practices. As some of those from tribes in Japan and India actually began making their way among modern and more civilized England often they were 'allowed' to mingle with upper society occasionally, but were most often used in shows that displayed them as non human and freakish. It is likely this same unacceptable judgmental idea that led to more recent ideas on what the people who would get tattooed were all about.
For many years it was almost unacceptable to even get a tattoo unless you were a part of an armed service, mostly navy men. And those were very often the bad boys as well. Most 'good boys' in the 1930′s and 1940′s didn't even come home from wars with tattoos. Onto the 1950′s it seemed as if only the real bad boys and local brawlers were brave enough to sport their skin art. Into the 1960′s and 1970′s tattoos had only just begun to break out of the bad boy mold and began to creep into the other areas of society. By the early 1980′s it even began to be 'okay' for women to have a small tattoo in out of the way locations. That may not seem a big deal, but considering 30 years earlier it would have been astounding and rare to find a tattooed female at all, this was actually immense progress and a huge jump forward in the way society viewed skin art.And the amazing thing was that tattoos were no longer limited to rebels who lived on the edges of society. In my eyes, this made it harder and harder to decide who needed to be judged, always a great selling point with me.
By the time we rolled into the 1990′s we barely even gave a second stare to women who had skin ink, and by then it was mostly to admire the work. And I recall in the late 80′s only a few years before having slipped from my house one night when I was 16 to return home later with my first minuscule piece of art on my shoulder, and waking up around 3am to my Dad yelling at me. My Dad you see, had not only been a Navy man, as well as the big boats bad boy who spent most of his time in the brig, but he had made it through the entire service without one single tattoo. I remember him grabbing my arm and actually trying to scratch the ink off. He told me that women just did not get tattoos. It wasn't done. As he stormed from my room I remember yelling at him that I had gotten one and that I was a woman! Since then I have gotten a couple thousand more dollars worth of skin ink, and since then he has never said another word!