Heart on Your Sleeve
by Zoë Housen
Musings on Tattoos from a Stylist
In fashion, a person’s body is a blank canvas to be adorned by beautiful clothing; this is what I’ve always been taught. But my entire life I secretly wanted my body to be covered in a different kind of beautiful art. I recently decided to embrace this side of myself, and got my first tattoo when I was eighteen— it was in dedication to my three brothers, and it’s on the left side of my ribs, close to my heart. My second tattoo is on my right forearm, a black and white peony, which represents my aspirations in the fashion industry.
Tattoos themselves are becoming more accepted and widely popular. Tattoo parlors are exploding in numbers worldwide; there are 21,000 tattoo parlors in the U.S. alone and currently 45 million Americans have tattoos. These statistics prove that getting “inked” may mark a sense of individualism or as being part of something collective.
Out of this large margin of those who do have tattoos, there are iconic people in fashion that not only break barriers and set trends in fashion, but in body ink. Rihanna, who has easily become a fashion icon in consistently jaw dropping outfits, has ink adorning her skin and isn’t afraid to show it off. Similarly, Cara Delevingne stands out as an unapologetically tattooed model in an industry where being tattooed can still be a career setback.
Fashion designer Marc Jacobs is well known for his ink, among them a tattoo of cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants on his right arm. In a 2013 New York Magazine interview, Jacobs was asked if he would ever regret any of his tattoos in the future. His answer was a dismissive “who cares?”. This blasé attitude seems to be popular among those who have or plan to get tattoos in this industry.
Fashion director of NYMag Amy Larocca notes that “in what is perhaps the greatest fashion shift of a generation, tattoos are now as desired and admired as a Céline bag, a Prada shoe, or one of those long mountain-man beards.”
This observation remains true three years later; those who sport the “blank canvas” are now seemingly outnumbered. Tattoos are like graffiti on the street, or paintings in a museum: unquestionably art. Good style and good tattoos just work together. They are both an expression of who an individual is, who they can be, or who they want to be.
Zoë Housen is a fashion student and stylist.