Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Angela M. Moe

Second Advisor

Dr. Susan Caringella

Third Advisor

Dr. Douglas Davidson

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Campus Only


My research will involve examining the meanings behind women's tattoos and how they view their tattooed bodies through interviews with 15 tattooed women between the ages of 18 and 24. The purpose of the Masters Thesis is to further the knowledge on young women's tattoo narratives, especially as they relate to their motivations for selecting various images and their perspectives on their tattooed body's appearance.

This study updates and expands past literature (Braunberger, 2001; DeMello, 1995; Atkinson, 2002; Atkinson, 2001; Sanders, 1988) that has examined tattooed women and their bodies, viewing tattooed women as finding empowerment and a sense of attractiveness in their tattoos. This study advances our understanding of how women may challenge restrictive beauty norms and create their own sense of beauty. I suggest that my theory of the beauty galaxy (based on Vade's (2005) concept of the gender galaxy), which allows all women to self-identify as beautiful, be implemented to reject hegemonic beauty ideals and create a space that embraces all forms of bodily expression, including tattoos.

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