Flowers, Flags, and Faith: The Iconography of the American Tattooed Lady

Files

cassandradealbathesis.compressed.pdf

Citation

de Alba, Cassandra, “Flowers, Flags, and Faith: The Iconography of the American Tattooed Lady,” Scholar@Simmons, accessed December 4, 2020, https://beatleyweb.simmons.edu/scholar/items/show/88.

Title

Flowers, Flags, and Faith: The Iconography of the American Tattooed Lady

Creator

de Alba, Cassandra

Date

2015

Description

Tattooed ladies were a mainstay of sideshows from 1882 through the middle of the last century, but while some scholarship on their careers and motivations has appeared in the past twenty years, little has been written on the subject of their tattoo designs. By examining photographs of these women and contemporary descriptions of their tattoos against writing on non-performers’ tattoos from the same time period, I trace the trajectory of tattooed ladies’ iconography from the earliest performers into the twentieth century. Although my primary project is grounded in visual imagery, I pay close attention to how tattooed ladies presented themselves in terms of clothing and performance narrative, and the implications of these choices. Through this work, I show that while the first tattooed ladies exhibited a collection of the more easily feminizable designs popular with men at the time, these performers eventually shaped their own style with certain tropes designed to appeal to mass audiences, which evolved over time alongside changes in American media and culture.

Publisher

Simmons College (Boston, Mass.)

Format

1 PDF (102Pages)

Language

English

Type

Masters Theses