Tramp Stamp Nation


Is it now “hip” to be tramp?

As I’m sure you’ve heard, Barbie turned 50.  That 10-inch, perfectly proportioned, blond bombshell of a doll is now packing an AARP card.  The latest to surface from Mattelwood, Barbie’s hometown, reports that the celebrity toy celebrated this milestone in a way most uncharacteristic of her wholesome past – she has tatted herself into the ranks of the lower “backy-tat” mainstream.  Yes, Barbie is tramp-stamped.  And now, single handedly, Barbie is transforming the urban tramp tat definition of the wild and sexually promiscuous to speak to the masses of the cool and hip – not to mention the wholesome as well.

As we all know, Barbie is no tramp!  Or is she?  Has age made her throw caution to the wind?  Unable to get permission from Mattel? to interview Barbie about her foray into the body stamped masses, I took the question to the people – my eclectic group of Facebook friends.  I asked about personal tramp stories and what they think of Barbie’s inclusion in the tramp sorority.  Ultimately, I wanted to know…now that Barbie is “stamping it,” is it cool to be a “stamp tramp”?

The personal stories I heard and thoughts on what a Tattoo Barbie means to today’s children in urban society are insightful.  Some may even surprise you.


Lynne is not your stereotypical female with a lower back tattoo.  I doubt there is anyone in this world that would put a “tramp” stamp on her.   She is a 46-year-old mother of two college age sons.  She has a Masters Degree in Reading and Language Arts.  She teaches 5th grade in a New Jersey Public School.lynneandmom1lynntattoo

“My mom was married to my dad for close to 40 years. Shortly after he died, my mom wanted to get a tattoo.  She was 70 years old!  I almost died!  She wanted us to get identical ones.  She chose a symbol (from a shampoo bottle no less) that was circular and included a picture of nature, (we did endless nature walks together) water (we LOVE the ocean) and a sun.  We have always been close. I did not have the heart to turn her down so; of course, I said, “Let’s go!”

Inside I was panicking!  Where do I put this?  I’m an elementary school teacher for God sakes!  All I could think of was the lower back.  My mom put hers proudly on her ankle. We now have matching tats! It was a dirty secret to be shared with my husband (who did not know about this until I called him in pain!). He was quite surprised, and being a man, turned on as well.”

What would Lynne say to her children if one wanted a tattoo?

”Being a Mom and a Teacher, I would probably ask the standard, ‘Who, What, Where, When, and Why’ questions.

WHO are you doing this for?  If the answer is to please a girl or the ‘guys,’ then let’s stop right here. If the answer is for you, then let’s think about it. WHAT type of tattoo are you thinking of?  Does it reflect who you are or what you stand for? Is it something you can live with for a long time, if not forever?  WHERE are you planning to get it? Research at least 5 different tattoo places and if possible, talk to as many people as you can to see where they went and if the place was clean and reputable. (An amateur did my symbol tattoo, and the tattoo slightly scarred me. My mom’s turned out perfect!) WHEN do you want to do this? Think about it for at least 4-6 weeks. Sometimes we do things on a whim and regret it later.
This decision requires a commitment.   WHY are you doing this? Does it carry a special significance? Is it a decision that you will be proud of?  If you still want to get a tattoo after considering all of the information I have just given you, then go for it!”

Lynne had this to say to Tattoo Barbie:

”Dolls are made for children, and Barbie is a doll. Dolls should look as innocent and pure as children are. Putting a tattoo on a child’s toy scars the toy and takes away the innocence of a child. Children do not need an adult’s influence to cloud their world. There is plenty of time for that when they become adults.”


Nikki is a 22-year-old college student at Texas Christian University. Use the tramp stamp label with Nikki at your own risk!  Nikki was a member of the 2004 Olympic Judo team!  She has her back tat and is proud of it.  She is also capable of “stamping” into oblivion any guy that disparages her or her tat.

“I got my tattoo for making the 2004 Olympic team. The significance behind the tattoo is all the hard work I put in leading up to making the team. It is also kind of a tradition amongst the judo community. All Olympic team members get a tattoo signifying which team or teams they have made. In my case it was Athens. I came up with the Olympic rings and had my tattoo artist wrap the wreath in with the rings.NS_19OLYjudoDownnikkitat

The stigma on the lower back tattoo does bother me because of what the title “tramp stamp” implies. To generalize and stereotype a person for having a marking on a location of the body is judgmental and ignorant.

I have heard that comment many times directed at others and myself.  It annoys me.  I would try and defend it giving reasons behind the tattoo and its significance. I have now learned that it does not matter what people think   I did it for myself. Comments like that are rude and inappropriate.

If people are really interested in knowing about what it is and why I got it they will ask or comment on it in another manner. Otherwise, simply dismiss them as ignorant.”

What does Nikki think of the “Barbie-Stamp” generation?

“I do not agree with the new Tattoo Barbie.  While I have a tattoo and decided on getting one as a young adult, I would never tell my 2 nieces and nephew and the kids I babysit for that it is okay to mark your body.  When they get old enough and they decide there is something so meaningful that they want to have it inked into their skin permanently, then so be it.

There is a reason you must be 18 to get a tattoo and making a product for children that condones body art should be banned.  It is sending a message not suitable for children. Barbie should remain ink free.”


Kirsten is a 36 year old stay at home mother of two in Dallas, Texas.

“From 24 to 26 years of age I was living in Tampa. I was going to a lot of bars and clubs. I never liked tattoos but “beautiful” people made them look good.  After two years of being a part of this scene, I got my belly button pierced. A few months later, a friend and I went back to the same piercing/tattoo parlor when we were drunk. We both got tattoos.kristen1kirstentrampstamp

I had no forethought on the idea and picked one right off the wall.  It was a medium-sized blazing sun with red, orange, yellow and black.  I told the guy to put it on the small of my back because I thought it would look good in a bathing suit.  I woke up the next morning and couldn’t believe I did it. I talked myself into liking it for a while.  A few years later when I met my husband he dubbed it “my white trash tattoo.”

The name stuck and so did the stigma. I have had the tattoo for 10 years and have finally decided to get it removed.  To me it represents a cleansing of the past and putting my wayward 20s behind me.  It’s a small price to pay for the freedom from the stigma of the “tramp stamp.”

What would Kirsten tell her children if they wanted to get a tat?

“As long as they are of age I would say get one if (and only if) they’ve thought it through carefully and either designed one of their own or found one through some research that means something to them. ”

Does Kirsten think Barbie is a tramp?

“I was surprised when I saw the Tattoo Barbie (we have one) but I rather like it. I think it shows the sign of the times. It takes away a little of the stigma of having a tattoo for women. In other words, it’s not bad having Barbie back up the concept that having a tattoo doesn’t make a woman a tramp.”


Rachel is a 25 yr old degreed professional living in Dallas, Texas.

”I always wanted a tattoo. When I was born the physician handed me over to my mother and told her that I was an “old soul”. My mother has called me an old soul ever since. I’m a free spirit to say the least, so when my first tattoo was so big nobody was surprised. I used to say that my first tattoo was going to be a pair of boxing gloves flanked by “southpaw” ala Rocky Balboa (I’m left handed and he was a weird hero of sorts). I am very glad to report that this never came to fruition but four other tattoos did. The first one was the “tramp stamp” on my lower back.rachels-pictures-032rachel22

When the phrase popped into my head my sophomore year of college, I knew it wasn’t going to be my first tattoo.  The fact that it was in gangsta old English script was slightly more surprising. I’ve likened it to a reverse Tu-Pac. (like the one on his stomach, but on my back). I take great care of all of my tattoos because three out of four are font so I don’t want them bleeding from sun damage. The floodgates opened after that and the amount of time that has lapsed between each tattoo has gotten smaller and smaller.”

What does Rachel have to say about “Tramp Stamp Barbie”?

”I do not like it. Young girls are bombarded by sexual images more than my generation.  The difference was- that I was thinking, “One day I want to be that cool.” These images are directly marketed to very young girls.  The Bratz dolls were the first time I noticed it. I was slightly disgusted. While moms now have tattoos I don’t think it should be portrayed as the “ideal”- which we all know is exactly what Barbie is. On the other hand, Barbie herself should be done away with.”

Is Tattoo Barbie turning us into a “Tramp Stamp Nation”?

Hmmm…one has think long and hard whether Barbie could actually influence every little girl.

Maybe, just maybe, we’re all getting a little paranoid because tattoos and little girls just don’t seem to go together.  At least, that’s what we have been conditioned to think.  After all, little boys (and some progressive little girls) have been sporting washable tattoos for years.  They are fun, removable and no one has ever made real mention about them.

So, who knows why Barbie did it.  Perhaps, one day she will hold a news conference and tell us what her stamps mean to her. In the meantime maybe the paparazzi will track down Ken and question him since Barbie’s not talking.  I’m sure his comments will be very enlightening.

©2009 Brian Cuban

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2 Comments For This Post

  1. San Francisco Catering (1 comments.) Says:

    There’s a tattoo Barbie??? I wish they would bring the original Barbie back with the nice hair and normal figure. I do catering in San Francisco and I have seen so many girls not eating food because they think it is unhealthy. It is sad really.

  2. keke baby (1 comments.) Says:

    well i think tramp stamps are very cute i have one who eva dnt like them is jus sum haters

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