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Bodies of Subversion

A Secret History of Women and Tattoo, Third Edition

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Paperback published by powerHouse Books (powerHouse Books)

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About This Book
Bodies of Subversion was the first history of women's tattoo art when it was released in 1997, providing a fascinating excursion to a subculture that dates back to the nineteenth-century and including many never-before-seen photos of tattooed women from the last century. Newly revised and expanded, it remains the only book to chronicle the history of both tattooed women and women tattooists. As the primary reference source on the subject, it contains information from the original edition, including documentation of:

•Nineteeth-century sideshow attractions who created fantastic abduction tales in which they claimed to have been forcibly tattooed.
•Victorian society women who wore tattoos as custom couture, including Winston Churchill's mother, who wore a serpent on her wrist.
•Maud Wagner, the first known woman tattooist, who in 1904 traded a date with her tattooist husband-to-be for an apprenticeship.
•The parallel rise of tattooing and cosmetic surgery during the 80s when women tattooists became soul doctors to a nation afflicted with body anxieties.
•Breast cancer survivors of the 90s who tattoo their mastectomy scars as an alternative to reconstructive surgery or prosthetics.

The book contains 50 new photos and FULL COLOR images throughout including newly discovered work by Britain's first female tattooist, Jessie Knight; Janis Joplin's wrist tattoo; and tattooed pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber. In addition, the updated 3rd edition boasts a sleek design and new chapters documenting recent changes to the timeline of female tattooing, including a section on: celebrity tattoo artist Kat Von D, the most famous tattooist, male or female, in the world; the impact of reality shows on women's tattoo culture; and, therapeutic uses of tattooing for women leaving gangs, prisons, or situations of domestic abuse.

As of 2012, tattooed women outnumber men for the first time in American history, making Bodies of Subversion more relevant than ever.

"In Bodies of Subversion, Margot Mifflin insightfully chronicles the saga of skin as signage. Through compelling anecdotes and cleverly astute analysis, she shows and tells us new histories about women, tattoos, public pictures, and private parts. It's an indelible account of an indelible piece of cultural history."
—Barbara Kruger, artist
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Bodies of Subversion was the first history of women's tattoo art when it was released in 1997, providing a fascinating excursion to a subculture that dates back to the nineteenth-century and including many never-before-seen photos of tattooed women from the last century. Newly revised and expanded, it remains the only book to chronicle the history of both tattooed women and women tattooists. As the primary reference source on the subject, it contains information from the original edition, including documentation of:

•Nineteeth-century sideshow attractions who created fantastic abduction tales in which they claimed to have been forcibly tattooed.
•Victorian society women who wore tattoos as custom couture, including Winston Churchill's mother, who wore a serpent on her wrist.
•Maud Wagner, the first known woman tattooist, who in 1904 traded a date with her tattooist husband-to-be for an apprenticeship.
•The parallel rise of tattooing and cosmetic surgery during the 80s when women tattooists became soul doctors to a nation afflicted with body anxieties.
•Breast cancer survivors of the 90s who tattoo their mastectomy scars as an alternative to reconstructive surgery or prosthetics.

The book contains 50 new photos and FULL COLOR images throughout including newly discovered work by Britain's first female tattooist, Jessie Knight; Janis Joplin's wrist tattoo; and tattooed pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber. In addition, the updated 3rd edition boasts a sleek design and new chapters documenting recent changes to the timeline of female tattooing, including a section on: celebrity tattoo artist Kat Von D, the most famous tattooist, male or female, in the world; the impact of reality shows on women's tattoo culture; and, therapeutic uses of tattooing for women leaving gangs, prisons, or situations of domestic abuse.

As of 2012, tattooed women outnumber men for the first time in American history, making Bodies of Subversion more relevant than ever.

"In Bodies of Subversion, Margot Mifflin insightfully chronicles the saga of skin as signage. Through compelling anecdotes and cleverly astute analysis, she shows and tells us new histories about women, tattoos, public pictures, and private parts. It's an indelible account of an indelible piece of cultural history."
—Barbara Kruger, artist
Product Details
Paperback (160 pages)
Published: January 15, 2013
Publisher: powerHouse Books
Imprint: powerHouse Books
ISBN: 9781576876138
Other books byMargot Mifflin
  • The Blue Tattoo

    The Blue Tattoo
    The Life of Olive Oatman
    In 1851 Olive Oatman was a thirteen-year-old pioneer traveling west toward Zion with her Mormon family. Within a decade, she was a white Indian with a chin tattoo, caught between cultures.The Blue Tattootells the harrowing story of this forgotten heroine of frontier America. Orphaned when her family was brutally killed by Yavapai Indians, Oatman lived as a slave to her captors for a year before being traded to the Mohaves, who tattooed her face and raised her as their own. She was fully assimilated and perfectly happy when, at nineteen, she was ransomed back to white society. She became an instant celebrity, but the price of fame was high and the pain of her ruptured childhood lasted a lifetime.   Based on historical records, including letters and diaries of Oatman’s friends and relatives,The Blue Tattoois the first book to examine her life from her childhood in Illinois, through the massacre, her captivity, and her return to white society, to her later years as a wealthy banker’s wife in Texas. This Bison Books edition features a postscript by the author with a newly discovered letter from Oatman.  

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