Sunday, November 25, 2012

1898: 100,000 People Tattooed in London

I have finally found evidence that this trend not only existed but was in fact extremely wide spread. Harmsworth claims that in 1898 there were over 100,000 tattooed. It also confirms that the trend started among the royals of the world.

It also says that there were about 20 tattoo artists in London, but one in particular did the best work and was most famous. His name was Professor Riley.

This article leads me to believe that since the trend was so widespread and this Professor Riley so well known, aristocratic women most likely went to him to be tattooed. Also, it seems as the trend grew, it became more and more acceptable and thus it was not such a far-fetched idea that women would be allowed to participate.

Harmsworth magazine also claims that the best tattoo artists in London were rivaling their Asian counterparts and were in fact very skilled.

Some examples of tattoos below:

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Why do people get tattoos?

To uncover why upper class Victorian women would get tattoos, I thought I would start at why anyone gets a tattoo.

According to academic psychological resources, the reasons are as follows:

“Reclaim body” fantasy“Perfect body” fantasyOften if one is unsatisfied with results of previous modification, might seek out changes that are more extreme or riskyS&M

There are many more reasons, but I chose the ones I thought would relate to upper class Victorian Women.

1) Victorian women would have been interested in "reclaiming" their body for themselves because they were seen as property and objects belonging to men. Tattooing offered them a way to take control of what they put on their body.

2) Obsession is an understatement when one is talking about how Victorian women treated the idea of a "perfect body." They would undergo daily pain of the corset, bustle, crinoline, etc, to look like the ideal they were bombarded with on a daily basis through magazines, advertisement, and simply conversation. The tattoo was another way to complete their perfectly trendy appearance.

3) If one could not get their waist down to the ideal 17-18 inches, one could feel dissatisfied with all the work they have done to their body. Tattooing was a sure way that their modification would be successful.

4) The entire Victorian society was based around women being submissive to men. In many accounts, women go so used to this, they even began to like it. They started to enjoy the pain caused by their corset. Many even practiced "tight-lacing" with their husband. Where he would pull the corset so tight as to restrict breathing, causing an erotic pleasure. Tattoos are synonymous with this pleasure/pain dichotomy. The pain of the tattoo makes one experience pleasure similar to that of sex or drug use.

The more I look into this topic, the less shocking this trend becomes and the more it makes sense.