Women and tattoos

February 01, 1998|By AMY WALLAUER

by Joe Crocetta / staff photographer

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Women and tattoos

"Baywatch" beauty Nicole Eggert has one. So do recording artists Salt-N-Pepa. Even the wholesome Connie Sellecca, wife of former "Entertainment Tonight" host John Tesh, went under the needle.

Tattoos: They're not just for bikers anymore.

"I like body art - I think it's cool," said Lisa Sealing, a 26-year-old lab administrator from Mount Airy who got her first tattoo last year. "It's no different than a photograph in your wallet, a picture on your wall."

Once a mark of military men, bikers or convicts, tattoos have trickled into mainstream society and scored big with women. Professionals, college students, moms and homemakers are among the women outnumbering men at tattoo parlors.


Dainty and discreet or bold and brassy. They get them all.

At Temple Art Tattoo Studio, 108 N. Potomac St. in downtown Hagerstown, women make up at least 60 percent of the clientele.

"I've done mothers and daughters several times, for piercings and tattoos," said Shayne Foy, owner of Temple Art. "I think it's a trend being set, but it's not going to die out."

Randy Robbins, a 27-year-old optician from Frederick, Md., got her seventh tattoo at Temple Art last month - a kneeling fairy, which reminds her of her daughter.

"It's more socially acceptable for women," Robbins said. "That's why it's cool - because it's more feminine now."

Tattooing has been around for at least 3,200 years. It's not clear when or where tattooing started, but some Egyptian mummies from 1300 B.C. show blue tattoo marks under the skin.

In Japan and Burma, artists are credited with some of the most elaborate and detailed tattoos in the world. And in parts of New Guinea, tattoos are a sign of beauty in women.

But in the United States, not everyone has accepted this new trend.

"I had a customer grab a hold of my hand and say, 'Is that real or does it wash off?' I said it was real," Robbins said.

The customer then cursed at her and walked out.

The unsolicited commentary didn't bother her and the tattoos apparently don't disturb her employers.

"They said, 'You know, the first time we saw them we thought you were some kind of biker chick,' " Robbins said. "But now they're pretty acceptable."

At CC Riders Rocking Tattoos in Waynesboro, Pa., about 65 percent of their clients are women, said tattooist T.L. Calhoun.

"It's becoming more open, more popular, more acceptable," Calhoun said. "They're getting them in places other than where the men are more inclined to get them, like the arms. They're keeping them more hidden, even though the people they work with know they have them."

Marissa Wilson, a 27-year-old from Mount Airy working toward her CPA, has three tattoos which aren't normally visible.

She got the first on her thigh while serving in the U.S. Navy. Two more followed - on her hip and lower back.

She said she hasn't really received criticism, but a jaunt to the beach while stationed in Sicily turned some heads.

"They all thought if you had a tattoo you'd been in jail," Wilson said. "It's more acceptable here than in Europe."

Becki Pitcock, a hair stylist in Boonsboro, realizes some have an aversion to tattoos, so she asked her employer if it was OK for her to get one on her forearm.

"I didn't want to offend anyone. We have clients that range from little kids to elderly women," Pitcock said. "She said it didn't bother her."

The result was a tribal design interlaced with vines and flowers.

"Most of the women like it. I've had more pros than cons," Pitcock said.

Women generally tend to put more thought into tattoos than men. Sealing thought about hers for years before getting a tiger on her back.

"Everybody's got one now it seems. It's almost becoming mainstream when it was taboo five, 10 years ago for any professional woman," Sealing said.

Sealing, who plans to attend Boston University this spring to pursue a psychology degree, said those who make snap judgments about women with tattoos are stereotyping.

"They're narrow-minded, uneducated people who are exposed to no diversity," Sealing said.

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