SO! You want a traditional style tattoo? Old school flash style. And you want to get a pin-up style head/pin-up done? GREAT! I think that’s awesome! HOWEVER, in the spirit of “Think before you ink”, here’s an easy guide to help you choose a tattoo that will not only be beautiful, but won’t label you as a racist/cultural appropriator/offensive, culturally insensitive asshole.
Some examples of tattoos that are okay to get:
Here we have traditional pin-ups. My god, look at those beautiful faces, practically begging to be tattooed on you!
And look at this! Another non-offensive, beautiful pin-up girl!
And my, look at this! Yet another non-offensive tattoo!
The above examples are the type of tattoo you should stick to: Generic pin-ups with no ties to cultures whatsoever.
Now these next examples are tattoos you should NEVER, EVER FUCKING GET UNDER ANY FUCKING CIRCUMSTANCES, unless you want to be branded as a racist, appropriative ass for the rest of your life:
"The gypsy head". First off, gypsy is a slur against Roma/etc and is offensive in and of itself. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, on to the tattoo.
This tattoo is offensive in several ways. First, many Roma/etc were beheaded, making a disembodied head of a stereotypical “gypsy” woman something that calls up antizignanism. Second, it’s a stereotype that was created to strip the many different cultures that fall under the slur “gypsy” of their unique way of life and make them appear as a monolithic culture (similar to the word “gypsy”). This same stereotype (the mythical/spellworking gypsy) has been used historically as an excuse to murder and drive Roma out of the areas they attempt to settle in. Third, it presents a sexualized version of Roma women that contributes to the idea that “All gypsy women are whores”. Lastly, not your culture, not yours to get inked on you.
If you still think it’s okay to get one after this, you’re an asshole, and you may as well stop reading now.
Ah, the sugar skull girl. Yeah, this is fucking appropriative as hell. It takes a part of a culture that, unless you are a part of it, you have no right to. It takes something with deep cultural significance and completely strips it of that meaning. Sugar skulls are part of the Latin American (primarily celebrated in Mexico) holiday Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Calavera have complex meaning in Mexican and Latin@ cultures. If you give a shit about respecting others cultures, don’t get this shit done. (If I’ve fucked anything up here, I apologize. I’m working off of research I’ve been doing on here and on google, so it may be flawed). Once again, if it’s not your culture, don’t get it done.
Now this one…I’m just gonna refer you to this passage:
- Headdresses promote stereotyping of Native cultures. The image of a warbonnet and warpaint wearing Indian is one that has been created and perpetuated by Hollywood and only bears minimal resemblance to traditional regalia of Plains tribes. It furthers the stereotype that Native peoples are one monolithic culture, when in fact there are 500+ distinct tribes with their own cultures. It also places Native people in the historic past, as something that cannot exist in modern society. We don’t walk around in ceremonial attire everyday, but we still exist and are still Native.
- Headdresses, feathers, and warbonnets have deep spiritual significance.
The wearing of feathers and warbonnets in Native communities is not a fashion choice. Eagle feathers are presented as symbols of honor and respect and have to be earned. Some communities give them to children when they become adults through special ceremonies, others present the feathers as a way of commemorating an act or event of deep significance. Warbonnets especially are reserved for respected figures of power. The other issue is that warbonnets are reserved formenin Native communities, and nearly all of these pictures show women sporting the headdresses. I can’t read it as an act of feminism or subverting the patriarchal society, it’s an act of utter disrespect for the origins of the practice. (see mypost on sweatlodgesfor more on the misinterpretation of the role of women). This is just as bad as running around in a pope hat and a bikini, or a Sikh turban cause it’s “cute”.
- It’s just like wearing blackface.
"Playing Indian" has a long history in the United States, all the way back to those original tea partiers in Boston, and in no way is it better than minstral shows or dressing up in blackface. You are pretending to be a race that you are not, and are drawing upon stereotypes to do so. Like my first point said, you’re collapsing distinct cultures, and in doing so, you’re asserting your power over them. Which leads me to the next issue.
- There is a history of genocide and colonialism involved that continues today.
By the sheer fact that you live in the United States you are benefiting from the history of genocide and continued colonialism of Native peoples. That land you’re standing on? Indian land. Taken illegally so your ancestor who came to the US could buy it and live off it, gaining valuable capital (both monetary and cultural) that passed down through the generations to you. Have I benefited as well, given I was raised in a white, suburban community? yes. absolutely. but by dismissing and minimizing the continued subordination and oppression of Natives in the US by donning your headdress, you are contributing to the culture of power that continues the cycle today.
from this website.
So there you go. A short (and incomplete) guide to how to get a non-offensive tattoo. Bottom line: IF YOU DO NOT BELONG TO THAT CULTURE, IF YOU DID NOT GROW UP IN IT OR HAVE NO TIES TO IT OR KNOWLEDGE OF IT, DON’T FUCKING GET IT TATTOOED ON YOU!
For further reading, google “Cultural appropriation tattoos”.