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The Term "Tramp Stamp" Is Problematic, And Here's Why.

Lower back tattoos on women have an unfair social construct that comes along with them, along with a demeaning nickname.

First, a little background on tattooing.

Historically, in the Western World, men have encompassed the majority of tattoo recipients. According to author Mindy Fenske, author of Tattoos in American Visual Culture, in the early to mid 20th century, women with tattoos were severely stigmatized against, and were rarely found in middle-class society.


This began to change in the 1990's and early 2000's. Women of all classes began to be tattooed. Some argue that it's because of the influence of female celebrities at the time, or the fashion trends of low-rise jeans or crop-tops. Around this time, the term "tramp stamp" had begun to work it's way into the American vernacular.

For those that don't know, the term "tramp stamp" is a derogatory term, primarily used to describe a tattoo on the lower back of a woman. The lower back area is arguably one of the best areas to be tattooed. A tattoo on the lower back is less likely to be misshaped over time. In addition, while being tattooed, the customer does not have to shift into contorted positions to accommodate the tattoo artist while working. Being a moderately to heavily tattooed woman, my lower back is one area that has yet to be tattooed...but only because I'm saving my back for an all encompassing back piece.

There have been scientific studies that associate the correlation between being tattooed with risk-taking and impulsive behavior. That being said, the prejudices that exist against women with lower back tattoos in our society run deep. For example, in 2005's "Wedding Crashers," which made $285, 176, 741 at the box office, the two protagonists spot a woman with a lower back tattoo at a wedding they're attending. These two gentleman are looking to have a night of casual sex. After spotting her, one of the men says:

"Lower back tattoo? Might as well be a bullseye."

In addition, the same set of negative social constructs, and debasing nickname, are being used in regards to women that get rib tattoos. The term "skank flank" has been created, and is becoming more widespread.

Women's bodies are constantly up for debate, and assigned social connotations by individuals that want to shame women. By insinuating that it's shameful to be promiscuous, and associating the personal choices of women's placement of body art as fodder for mockery, the term "tramp stamp" is problematic. "Tramp stamp" is nothing but another phrase to make women feel bad about their bodies, and potentially, their sexuality.

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