The 6 And Only Tattooed Girls You’ll Ever Meet


As per a noticeable cultural shift, tattooed girls are now seen absolutely everywhere, and bold tattooing is no longer reserved for punkers, bikers, inmates, soldiers, sailors, carnies, or anyone of “fringe class” (credit: Frank Reynolds). For example, a sorority-blonde sat her tiny JCrew-clad bum in front of me during my law school orientation last year. She eventually slid off her cardigan to reveal a sizable back tattoo, a dandelion with the pods blowing away. Throughout that day, I took particular notice of other female students with obvious tattoos: peacock feathers, script writing, hearts, stars, butterflies. That’s when it struck me – if future attorneys in cardigans and topsiders have overt ink, this signals quite the notable alteration in tattoo culture. A-list celebrities, professionals, suburban girls all get casually tattooed now, and, although nearly-porn subculture websites like Suicide Girls were once platforms for unapologetic alt-sex pioneers, SG in particular is presently just another girly-mag appendage of the Playboy empire. Unavoidably, mainstreaming depletes alternativeness. However, not all self-evident inked women are created equal in life, liberty, and their pursuit of artful individuality. Below, I give you a beginner’s guide to navigating this landscape of various painted ladies.

1. The Hipster Girl With High-Quality Tattoos

Who She Is: Stylistically, the hipster chick rocks a bold ombre with bangs, an army coat, and a deep red lip. She pursues some kind of career she digs and has well-placed tattoos that she thoroughly considered before getting done. She has a whimsical spirit and does her own thing regardless of what’s #trending. Sure, she incorporates trends into her current look, but keeps her ink highly individualized.

Her tattoos are generally visually pleasing because she’s heavily into style. You don’t have to feign interest about the story behind them because they are actually interesting stories. She’s probably had them done by a high-end tattoo artist who knows their shit, and she has paid a lot for them, and because of this, they are beautifully done. I knew a lot of these girls when I lived in gentrified DC neighborhoods.

2. The Trendster Girl Who Frequently Explains How Interesting Her Tattoos Are

Who She Is: She reminds you of Miley Cyrus. Just google her tattoos right now. That’s this girl. She’s just being Miley. At all times.

To the untrained eye, she looks like the hipster above, but she is far more sheep than shepherd by nature. She has far more social-media friends than she does ryde-or-die actual friends and she will regret her tattoos when the winds of style inevitably change again. Her tattoos are more a hodgepodge of trendiness, a failed attempt at originality. She is merely falling in line with social acceptable trends, which is pretty much the innate opposite of what tattoo culture was ever supposed to be.

For example, putting Kerouac’s most famous line on your wrist does not a literature buff make. Maybe if it is something personally relevant from his early works that you read 114 times during a pivotal time in your life? Ok, more interesting. But “the only ones for you” are not the “mad ones” – they are the ones like you, who just want to fit in. This girl is just wearing what’s in, but instead of it coming from Forever 21, it is stabbed into her, with needles and ink, forever.

However, this type of tattoo can be really okay if you have nice placement by the right artist, as there is always value in the beauty of good art on a nice bod. Not every tattoo has to mean something in order to be cool or pleasant. Perhaps try focusing less on forcing meaning and just go ahead and put something beautiful somewhere unusual on you, maybe on your front thigh, like a huge red rose because you just like the color red and you like roses. That would be hot.

3. Punk Fucking Rock Girl

Who She Is: I know a heavily inked chick named Veronica who only has thirty-or-so tattoos of the record covers of mostly-obscure eighties punk/thrash/metal bands. Her youth was the Cali punk scene, and those were her favorite bands. She got her tattoos because, really, why the fuck wouldn’t she?

Giving zero fucks is primarily what makes you a “punk rock” tattooed girl. Girls who are like, “hey, I had weird dream yesterday, throw that image on my chest!” – boom, she now has a robot in the likeness of Rodney Dangerfield with giant eagle wings on her left tit forever. Move over, GG Allin – you’ve been outdone.

Also, any chick with a full sleeve or chest piece is instantaneously punk-rock. She’s fully committed to being a bona-fide Tattooed Girl, no dual identity Clark-Kent-By-Day/Bad-Ass-By-Night qualms about it. She’s 24/7 obviously tattooed, whether she’s talking to a future employer or a boyfriend’s conservative grandmother making her most sour face. I don’t care if a tattooed girl has the faces of sweet tiny kittens drawn all down her left arm – she’s bold and she’s punk. I don’t even have the balls for this, and I have fairly big be-myself nuts (although, you know, that baby-kitten-face sleeve is starting to sound pretty awesome). These women are usually cool and I always awkwardly try to befriend them.

4. Rockabilly-Flash Girl

Who She Is: Dedicated to a modern pinup look – victory rolls, severe mini-bangs, cat-eye glasses, paisley bandana, corsets, fishnets, idolizes Bettie Page and has those tattoos you’ve seen on a lot of other people (google “Sailor Jerry” for reference).

Insert Willy Wonka meme: please tell me more about what sparrows and nautical stars tell me about you as an individual? So, okay, Rockabilly Jane doesn’t get any points in the uniqueness category, but that’s really alright, because she is a traditionalist whose tattoos identify her as a member of a noted subculture. Hating on such tattoos for their lack of originality is like hating on a girl who only ever orders her simple burger and her vanilla milkshake, Martin-&-Lewis style and her hip friends order it, too. It’s classic, and this shit usually looks mad decent because it’s done from a stencil (“flash art”) which makes it pretty hard to eff up. (You cannot go wrong with a cool-looking giant boat tattoo, can you? Although sometimes I do wonder though, like, were you once a sailor? What boat have you been on, the Staten Island Ferry? I think this just confuses me because it isn’t something I would personally have done). That being said, these are girls who’ve fully committed to a certain identity and group affiliation, and that has to garner some respect, like a hipster militia or stylish group of retro bikers. All I urge to the future-tattooed is this: don’t get flash just because you can’t think of what else to get.

5. The Tramp-Stamped/Rib-Inked Girl

Who She Is: She’s over 28 years old and was a party girl in the mid-to-late nineties. Spent at least one summer living down the shore. She did get tattooed before it was Trendster status, but was trendy in its own right. She is now a seasoned broad who possesses a Janeane Garofalo whateverness about life. She also frequently considers the affordability of tattoo removal, but ends up spending that money on wine. And Taco Bell.

Look guys, the nineties were pretty wild, think of all of that impure ecstasy we did – for the younger readers, that’s Molly’s creepy uncle who used to be cool in high school but now works third-shift at the Gas-Mart and sleeps in a van. We were drinking Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill and smoking cloves and wearing those low-rise jeans that showed our string-thongs – yeah, we were bound to get into some questionable activities. So because of that one time you saw Third Eye Blind in Austin, you have lyrics from Semi-Charmed Life emblazoned on your back for eternity. Luckily, now that you’re thirty-five, you can wear higher pants and just say it’s some quote by Kafka. Because really, no one remembers that band or that song’s words, thank fuck for you.

A tattoo-artist friend recently told me this: the rib tattoo is the latest tramp stamp. What’s the OG stamp then? Well, that is what pros now call ‘Jersey Tags’ #wayharshtai. I live in Philly, so this may be a more locally relevant dig, but I feel like everyone everywhere gets the joke. But speaking of Jersey, I feel like with regard to J-Woww’s dragon rib tattoo – the rib-tat girls are going to regret this one sooner than later because the era for the side-tramp is coming to an end too and WTH is that party-dragon doing on you, girl? It only looked right in a bra-top you wore to the club six years ago along with a dangling belly ring and way too much bronzer. Glad those latter two aren’t permanent, aren’t ya?

6. Full-On Trailer Park/Prison Inked Girl

Who She Is: A girl who made has some piss-poor life decisions. She makes any tramp-stamper feel pretty classy.

I hate to even include this one, because it just feels shitty to say ‘trashy’, but eh – it is what it is, and it’s necessary for a complete list. So if you have more than 3 pitbulls tattooed on you (usually memorialized, usually named Duke or Duchess in shoddy script), anything misspelt or grammatically-off, anything wrapping around your neck, or anything that says “dat” or “princess” or “angel” – you tragically fall into this category. Oh, and if you have had something carved into you or you’ve broken a ballpoint pen in half to fill it in, Fear-style, you qualify as this type of tattooed girl. Nicole 4-Eva, baby!

So that’s about the long, short, and permanent-inked of it. And, for an in-text footnote, you can be any of the above categories combined (e.g., my friend who has rockabilly ink, as well as creative lovely ink, as well as hilarious whimsical punk rock ink). As for me, I have five tattoos: first, a star outline on my back after a teenaged dare. Next, a tramp stamp – it has value to me, but let’s call a spade a spade, most people don’t read dead languages, so it really may as well say “Mildly Rebellious in 2001” in Latin. Then, I had a stupid four-leaf clover that I’m now gradually covering with explosive flowers and tattered vines drawn by various artist friends. Lastly, two pink bows on the backs of my thighs because I thought they looked burlesque-hot on my girl, Pink (my boyfriend’s seven year old son did inquire, “Meg, why in the WORLD would you get tattoos on the fattest part of your big, fat butt?” – good question, child. Good question).

And for those who ask me “how good will tattoos look when you’re 70?” – I imagine no one will be checking out my rear-parts when I’m 70. Only grandma-fetishists (and how cool must a tattooed grandma fetishist be? I want to meet one). Ultimately, how sexy will any of us be then while we drool in our nursing home wheelchairs? At least tattooed Golden Girls will look at their personalized body-art and be like, shit Blanche, you remember THAT time?? Really, a tattoo that means anything to you, even one that just lends a “remember when” to your life, can be considered a worthy endeavor. And when some guy on the beach shouts “hey, what’s that on your back?”, and you think it is seagull poop or a giant bug, just remember it is a part of your history chilling forever on your lower back-fat, which is actually a little bit cool, because our bodies often tell the stories of who we are and where we’ve been. Or maybe you will just start wearing one-pieces and sarongs anyway to cover up your nineties back and your big, fat butt.