Reality for Whom? Deconstructing INK and the Contested "Tattooed Body"
Chaudry, Amie Annette
Schultz, Jessica J
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The extent to which tattoo culture has been pervasively corporatized within the mainstream over the past decade indicates a critical juncture in the history of Western tattooing, one that signals the transition of the tattoo from a signifier of stigma to one of status, and a turn from the tattoo <italic>community</italic> of the past to a tattoo <italic>industry</italic>. I argue that a seemingly accurate body of knowledge called “tattooed reality” is disseminated through this industry and must be analyzed because it conveys a particularly problematic way of knowing, organizing, producing, and representing tattooed bodies. Using data from a media analysis of <italic>Miami Ink</italic> and <italic>L.A. Ink</italic> to inform interviews with local tattoo artists, I highlight how the tattooed body has become a contested space as “tattooed reality” discourse fragments and divorces tattooing from its disreputable past, and reappropriates it as an aesthetic cultural commodity of the middle-class.