Miss America and the New Mainstreaming of Body Art

Miss America and the New Mainstreaming of Body Art
Trendy tattoos and the new mainstreaming of body art self-expression takes center stage this week in Atlantic City, N.J.

Miss Kansas Theresa Vail has fueled conversations at the corporate water cooler and the family dinner table. Body art is the hot topic. The impression that Main Street America has of those women who openly display it is the buzz.

Bodies have been marked for thousands of years. Female mummies from as far back as 2000 B.C. have displayed “ink.” Now, suburban mommies can commonly be seen proudly sporting tattoos.

Religion, status, love interests, and even punishment may have been the ancient catalyst for the strikingly simple or artistically elaborate works. Today, tattoos still represent some of those timeless values with a modern day spin. Permanent artwork can be simple, straightforward words or symbols placed in easy to hide locations or breathtakingly intricate works of art composed of photograph-like realism placed on the body for the world to see.

Celebrities have a hand in promoting the tattoo trend. Angelina Jolie was spotted with a new Arabic phrase written on her forearm last week. That’s an estimated 17 tattoos for Jolie.

Miley Cyrus recently added to her collection of about 19 tattoos. Her gallery boasts both symbols and a rendition of Leonardo da Vinci’s anatomical heart inked by famous tattoo artist Kat Von D.

The middle aged mainstreaming of the tattoo is prevalent on the beaches, in the parks, and in the gym. Anywhere that bodies are displayed, tattoos are more commonplace on women of all ages and socioeconomic status. Feats of athletic prowess, such as the completion of an Ironman competition, are often celebrated by having the “Mdot” icon tattooed on the shoulder or calf, proof of membership in an elite club.

Are tattoos, more specifically on the female body, currently accepted in the workplace?

The scale seems to be tipping favorably for body art.

Technological, social media, artistic, or athletic based careers are some of the avenues that have historically been more tolerant of exposed tattoos on women. Individualism, fearlessness, and straight-out moxie are the qualities that link ownership of body art and success in these fast moving industries.

In areas such as Northeastern Pennsylvania, a cluster of bedroom communities for New York City and Philadelphia, a casual poll revealed a tolerance for body art, providing it is “not offensive.”

A 40-something bank executive stated that as long as an employee, female or male, presents themselves in a professional, neat, and courteous manner, moderate body art is inconsequential. In general, art viewed as extreme, for example, facial tattoos, still are not acceptable in the workplace.

Contestants in the Miss America program, throughout the years, have been a mirror of women, many young and preparing to enter the workforce, in the U.S.

The Miss America program, “…exists to provide personal and professional opportunities for young women and to promote their voices in culture, politics, and the community.”

This weekend, parents and daughters will have conversations about self-expression. Women of all ages will define their own fearlessness.

Miss Kansas, Theresa Vail, crowned or uncrowned on Sunday evening, has been a conversation starter.

Becca, who is in her early 30’s working for a large internet sales company wrote today on Facebook, “I think the tattoo(ed) Miss America contestant from Kansas is pretty freaking awesome!”

Written By: Jennifer Knickman

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