Professor Margot Mifflin’s Book on Women’s Tattoo Art is Released

January 30, 2013 4:55 pm English Dept, School of Arts and Humanities

A third edition of Professor Margot Mifflin’s (English Dept.) book Bodies of Subversion: A Secret History of Women and Tattoo has been released. The book features 200 color photographs, 50 of which are new, of tattooed women and tattoo artists dating back to the nineteenth-century.

First published in 1997, the book is the first to delve into what was once a forbidden practice relegated to subculture status—a recent Harris Poll shows that women outnumber men in the tattoo department. There is a new section in the book that explores the impact of reality TV shows and Hollywood’s overall acceptance of ink on women’s tattoo culture.

Bodies of Subversion has received praise for its powerful images and illuminating narrative. The book includes stories about breast cancer survivors of the 90s who tattooed their mastectomy scars as an alternative to reconstructive surgery; Victorian society women who wore tattoos as custom couture; and nineteenth-century sideshow attractions who created fantastic abduction tales where they claimed to have been forcibly tattooed.

The release of the third edition of Bodies of Subversion by Powerhouse Books in early January has stirred a buzz on the Internet and on social media sites. A slideshow of the images contained in the book is available on the New Yorker website and on Flavorpill.

Professor Mifflin is scheduled to give a lecture on the book at the Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum in April.

Author of The Blue Tattoo: The Life of Olive Oatman (Univ. of Nebraska Press, 2009), Professor Mifflin writes about women, art, and contemporary culture. She is also the co-director of the Arts & Culture Reporting Program at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.