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Review of Bodies of Subversion

Bodies of Subversion: A Secret History of Women and Tattoo by Margot Mifflin

As far as tattoo history books go, Bodies of Subversion is packed with historic details of the tattoo industry as it relates to the influence and participation of female tattooists. The author has revised the book with additional or more recent influences since the original distribution date. Therefore, the book contains an array of facts from three centuries of tattoo history and how women made their way and altered the industry both in practice and in creating interest to the tattooed community at large.

The book as well as the tattoo industry itself covers in part the traveling carnie influence where at one time played a huge role in propagating the artwork held on human canvas. Women were often paraded as freakish works of art, but earning a decent income doing so. Often women could earn a fairly easy and reasonable income by allowing a good portion of their body to be tattooed and displayed as part of the carnival circuit. Some of these women also learned the trade and became tattooists themselves.

Another common occurrence was for spouses of male tattooists to learn the trade and assist their companions by tattooing sailors and other clients when business was high. Some of these women became talented enough to carry their own clientele and make real names for themselves. Increased confidence, earned respect and necessary equality has paved the way for current times where an increasing number of female tattooists leave permanent marks on thousands of tattoo enthusiasts every day.

The book itself, from this non-professional opinion, isn't an example of literary genius, but it doesn't need to be either. I am not an avid reader and therefore not an inclusive critic on the creative use of the English language enough to pass any judgement. So let's just say that the book doesn't flow as you might expect when reading a novel or even an expertly crafted documentary. However, the book reads easily and although somewhat jumpy from one time period to another is very inclusive of the historic events of how women have influenced and unarguably earned their place in this industry.

The book is sold in bookstores which is where I picked it up, but can easily be purchased now on Amazon: Bodies of Subversion: A Secret History of Women and Tattoo, 3rd Edition. The book is paperback and has an ample amount of pictures to help make the overall quality of the book a must have while making it affordable to own. We definitely recommend getting your hands on this one.

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