I would love to be able to say that tattooing is a beautiful, sparkling land filled with unicorns and rainbows where no one is ever judged, where you can be a woman, a man, or whoever you are and it not be a problem; but unfortunately that’s not the world I work in. I work in the very male-dominated field of tattooing.
Whilst female tattooers are more common now, we’re still far from being 50/50. Sexism is an everyday thing for myself and the women I work with. I’ve been told I tattoo well for a girl. I’ve had people correspond with me through dozens of messages before going off the radar when they realise I’m a woman, only to go to a rival shop with my designs and ideas and have the tattoo done by a man instead.
Don’t get me wrong, the world is changing; and I’m utterly delighted to see it. But, just in the way tattoos will always have a stigma attached, so will female tattooists. Members of my family have questioned my choice to continue in a job with so much negativity attached to it via the perceived social standards, I’ve also been asked by those close to me when I’m going to find a nice man, settle down, quit my job and raise some kids. An alternative job is not a death sentence. I can have a career I’m passionate about and this does not mean that I can never settle down if I so choose.
For women, tattooing can be a very cut throat industry. We’re made to compete for our work, for our right to tattoo and for our right to be taken seriously. We’re supposed to be sexy and promiscuous. We’re supposed to be the bad girls that should never be taken home to your mother. We are more than that, I am more than that. I am a woman, I’m an artist, I’m a creator, I’m a lover and I’m a fighter.
I am the protector of my tattoo sisters. I won’t tear women down in the name of success, I will build you up and praise you for the creative goddess you are. I will encourage your strengths and pick you up when you feel weak.
I work with 2 other women, they are so important to me. They are truly my family and we provide a mutual support network for each other. Whether it’s helping through serious issues, advising on tattoo techniques, or even if it’s just making sure someone eats that day and gets at least a little giggle into their day.
Female tattooists are here to stay. We won’t be pushed out so easily so instead of hindering women in tattooing, help them. And any female tattooers who might read this, support your sisters, don’t let them be forced out because of your insecurities. Learn to love and care for each other and you’ll be shocked at the magic that women can create when they stand together.
Picture: Cindy-Ray, Australian tattoo artist.