Tramp Stamp Nation

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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

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

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

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

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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44 Comments For This Post

  1. Nikki Kubes Says:

    Excellent blog BRIAN :) I like your ending paragraph… lol!

  2. Ida_Centoni (1 comments.) Says:

    So, let me get this straight, the chunk down version is; If your a girl, with a tattoo – it is an assumed sexy thing and your a tramp? – An "old soul" my self on my final journey, I am looking forward to getting my new and final company logo on soon – we call my logo "mo" – you can check it out at proformancemomentum.com.

    - I live and love the thought of free will, choices and the knowing we are individuals. And I must say, my husband, the firefighter that he is, it thrilled with the idea as he is surprised by my choice.

    Warmly with respect, Ida

  3. Glenn Desgranges Says:

    Very insightful, Brian. What’s next GI Joe with a Faux Hawk, a Cabbage patch kid with a pierced nose or maybe even Mickey Mouse in MMA gear.

  4. Nancy Morales Says:

    It's unfortunate that Kristen was traumatized with being called "white trash" by a loved one because of her tatoo on her lower back and had it removed. A tattoo that is that hidden and seldom seen is something that a loved one (boyfriend, husband) might see more than an average person….therefore I think that if Kristen got her tatoo because she wanted to and then was extremely hurt by what her boyfriend, husband said then she should have removed the boyfriend, husband not the tattoo.

    A tattoo does not distinguish what we are……it may give a physical impression…..but it's the individuals personality and the way they carry themselves that makes the person. Tattoo is you want I say it's your body.

  5. digital media degree (1 comments.) Says:

    Interesting article… I would definitely say "Listen to your parents" when it comes to issues like tattoos and piercings. It seems like a good idea a the time, but they've lived longer and know when the regret starts to kick in.

  6. gabs Says:

    I am so not getting a tatt now, I was thinking about it. Kirsten's story did me in.

  7. Josh Ellis (2 comments.) Says:

    Brian, your next entry should be doing a story on the tattoos of the Denver Nuggets. It would be fitting considering the Mavs next opponent, every Nugget player seems to be tatt'ed from head to toe and everything in between, and I think we would all find the stories behind Chris Andersen's tatts. (and his hair) to be interesting.

  8. Nik Richie (1 comments.) Says:

    good stuff… I will post on thedirty.com and send dirty army to read this.

  9. Rick (1 comments.) Says:

    I, as a father agree with the comment that Innocents is too short lived and we should not burden our children with our desires. Let the children enjoy life; the last thing I wanted to do when I was a child was to get a tattoo all I wanted to do was to see how high my bike could jump over the curb, (Innocents is short lived). Just a note; when you constantly tell a person they are dumb, they become to believe they are dumb. If you constantly tell them they are smart, they believe they are smart. So what are we telling the children now?

  10. tonyrocks (3 comments.) Says:

    Admit it man, you love the tramp stamp ;)

  11. Debi Michaelis Says:

    Brian,

    I loved your blog …..I saw Barbie on the news last night and could not believe it. Do these kids realize these brands are for life? There are going to be alot of grandparents in about 30 years with alot of body art…..I wonder what their grandchildren are going to think or if things will change at all. I guess time will tell!

    Love your stories….
    Debi

  12. Some Guy Says:

    The 'chunk down version' seems to be that all these women want to appear overtly sexual but don't want the negative 'tramp' label.
    My response would be to stop being offended by such labels.
    The women's equality movement will never be successful until women can be overtly sexual without being ashamed of the labels that come with it.

  13. alan Says:

    Very insightful piece sir…its amazing how widespread this phenom has become. Its wild how I find myself checking out the lower backs of women, just to see if they have emerged from their pain with a symbol of freedom on the back, breast, butt, arm, belly button, (who knows maybe even their privacy…thank you Janet J for being so free)…regardless of the inner meaning, a friend of mine once took me to his girlfriends fashion show. She came out in nothing but suede cowboy straps and nothing else…I commented man your girl is sexy…he replied nah man, thats just art…to some its sexy & free, to others its art & free…When your 65 with a tat then its an antique??

  14. Steph (1 comments.) Says:

    I, too, am a member of the "tramp stamp" nation. I never even heard people calling that until a couple of years ago and thought it was HILARIOUS considering I've been with my husband since I was 19 years old and am a mother of 2 and am far from what any rational person would ever perceive as even being CLOSE to trampy. I started with a small one on my thigh, the next was one above my ankle, and my back sash was my third and (so far) last. It's also my favorite, even with the "stigma" that comes with it.

    I think that Barbie is just trying to keep up with the times. As with any fad, soon it will be something else. I didn't find tattoo Barbie even NEAR as disturbing as Pregnant Barbie who came with a baby inside her that you could "birth". Now, THAT was just freaky and unsettling.

  15. nycgoddess (1 comments.) Says:

    good job on this one

  16. Wolverine Says:

    Honestly, if you saw someone in a Police uniform, you would assume they were a police man not some guy that was headed to a costume party right? Well, you may not be a tramp if you wear a lower back tattoo…but you sure as hell wearing the uniform.

  17. John Sullivan (10 comments.) Says:

    Dude that's alot of research :) I did think one of those ladies is a tramp. Not because of the tattoo but she seemed FAKE, anyway just like a bald head on a man a tattoo looks good on some people. I have seen very together classy women with many tattoo's and vice versa.
    As far as Barbi this country is in trouble but we already know that.
    Nice work
    Stumbled

  18. Lynlee Says:

    I don't think Barbie should have a tattoo, but in the end it really doesn't matter either way. My mom never would let my brother or me wear fake tattoos as kids. She told us they were "trashy" and they were "bad". However now, my brother and I both have them. I have one on my lower back and can't stand the phrase "tramp stamp'". If others choose to judge me based on a tattoo then, they must be unhappy with themselves. Good blog.

  19. anitah (1 comments.) Says:

    Great story Brian… I have a "tramp stamp" and wear it proudly! Its my astrological sign, means something at least. I hope this barbie starts something big, this give parents a "reason" to talk to their children about responsibility and choice. -anita

  20. Pam Says:

    I think Barbie's a white trash sleeze for getting one! LOL Seriously, I don't think they should be promoting something to children that is of such an adult nature.

  21. John Mojo (1 comments.) Says:

    What about Jason Whitten’s tramp stamp. Incredibly disturbing. He can kick my ass, but it’s a very toolish thing to have. Does his wife like it when she’s strapping one on? Please ask him, report back.

  22. Kim Says:

    I'm add odds with this issue. I'm a mother of two children. One in college and another in kindergarten. I never really spoke to my children on the pros or cons on getting a tattoo. However, my oldest recevied her first tattoo at the legal age of 18. Does it show a sign of times? Well, Barbie has changed over the years going along with the trends of the day. Will this influence my child to run out and get a tattoo? I somehow doubt it. A tattoo is a representation of the person and who they are. Even though, I currently haven't gotten a tattoo, I wouldn't discount it. Would my getting a tattoo influence my child? I would hope my opinion would mean a little more to my child than a doll. When it comes to Barbie looking or being a tramp…I've kinda always had the feeling she was a little wild anyway.

  23. Tony (1 comments.) Says:

    I still don't get the fascination with everyone getting tattoos, especially middle aged women or older. It used to be associated with sailors or hookers, or is it just trendy for men to look like gangsters / gypsies / sailors, and for women to look like tramps and hookers.

    So tell me, what happens in 5 years time when the fad wears off and the trend is to look fashionable and respectable again. It's not exactly easy to undo a tattoo is it…

  24. bone Says:

    Imagine if you had to keep
    the haircut you got back during the fashion trends of the 70's
    but now it's wearing out
    and the ends are frizzled
    and the color has faded away…

    This is the logic
    and appeal
    of tattoo decisions,
    today.

  25. Ethan_Wilson (2 comments.) Says:

    The best part of every article is the fact he has a cat…named useless.

  26. Kool T Luv Says:

    Yo Brian. Great Article….Plenty of food for thought. The Art of Tattoos has been around for over 5000 years. To some it's very meaningful to some it's a story of getting wasted and not being responsible. As an old soul myself , a free spirit, a Marine Veteran and hopeless romantic it was very natural to express myself through marking my body. Like John Mayer says, "our body is a wonderland." I had four tattoos and several piercings beforing starting a career in the corporate banking world and before I was married and now a mother of two. I'm designing my last masterpiece now. As for Barbie being stamped….just about everything now a days is less sacred than it was. It's a doll that never should have been an icon for small girls anyway. Bob Dylan sings of changing times, well times are a changing and there is nothing we can do about it. Parents should help their children find their own identities and teach them to express themselves without following mainstream America. I'm a 31 year old single mom, and proud to be stamped! ooh ray!!

  27. Jeremy Smith Says:

    Great story! The barbie tramp stamp is absolutely absurd…period.

    Perception so often becomes reality, so people can’t be mad if they get the tramp stamp label with a lower back tat.

    Your brother should get a tatoo that reads, “Popp is my bitch”. It’s factual and to the point :)

  28. Jeremy Smith Says:

    Meant to say “Pop” with one P (my boss is Popp with 2 P’s)…

  29. billy mcnamara Says:

    Wow! Great blog. I had no idea Barbie got a tattoo. Weird. A long time ago, I broke up with my girlfriend, Erika Eleniak, for getting a tattoo. There was more to it but that tatt broke the Barbie's back! I'm not a fan of tatts.

  30. Evan Says:

    I wanna know what Ken thinks about all of this?

  31. ClintonR (1 comments.) Says:

    Lol, yeah news to me to that barbie got a tramp stamp. I like them, but I question the motives of those who choose to get them.

  32. Ric Corso Says:

    I will be glad when the whole tattoo thing passes…most people surveyed say they wish they had not got them to begin with.
    Hey..to each his own. I am thinking of getting one of those warrior facial tattoos like Mike Tyson…ha!
    As the Jimmy Buffet song says "it's just a permanent reminder of a temporary feeling".

  33. LAURA Says:

    OMG I CANT BELEIVE HE WOULD DUMP HER BECAUSE OF THAT TATTOO I MEAN I STILL WANT A TATTOO BUT THEY ARE GOING TO HAVE MEANINGS

  34. gabs Says:

    I totally agree…. signification required. Can you imagine? Looking at a covered wall, eyes closed…."I want that one!"

  35. Devoted2PB4evr (2 comments.) Says:

    Just my two cents…
    Yes…I have wanted to get a tat for many years.
    Yes…I finally have a tat!!!
    Yes…I was in my upper 40's when I decided to have it done!!!
    Yes…I was totally sober when I decided & had it done!!!
    Yes…I guess it in a spot that others may consider "tramp stamping" though it was only just today that I even heard of this term.
    Yes..I will take it with me to my grave!!!
    Yes…it is of my favorite singer; Patrizio Buanne…who by the way has actually seen my tat of him in person a total of 3 times, and he is happy with it!!!
    Yes…it shows how truly devoted I am to him & his music!!!
    Yes…I'd do it again in a heartbeat!!!

    Tell me this…
    If a man has a tat on the small of his back, his chest, his derrière, is he considered a tramp?
    Does it mean/make a man sexually promiscuous?
    Would you, whoever "you" might be actually call a man a tramp because of his tat & its placement?
    Who makes up these stupid labels & decides who they should be attached to?

  36. Devoted2PB4evr (2 comments.) Says:

    Barbie and her tat…
    Is this the same Barbie who; if she was an actual living woman, would be abundantly endowed up on top and also behind???
    So I guess that having great T's & A's and dressing yourself to flaunt these features is completely ok with mothers & fathers to teach their daughters & their sons that it might make a woman a tramp!!!
    BTW…were Barbie & Ken ever really married???
    Do you really believe that they never had a sexual relationship???
    Ask any woman who had Barbie & Ken when she was a child, and if she ways NO, I'd call her a liar!!!
    As Steph above mentioned…regarding Pregnant Barbie; was Barbie and unwed mother???

    Would it be okay…
    If Barbie were to say; have an abortion???
    Well it's her body; her choice!!!

    Having a tat is personal decision/choice.
    It usually expresses a person's passion.

  37. Scott Says:

    Tramp Stamps are about as appealing as eating a cowpie.

  38. wondering Says:

    Wondering…how are all these ladies going to look when they have 80 year old wrinkly, saggy, perhaps even pudgy or fat, tattooed bodies? When a beautiful fiery sun becomes an entire universe of dieing supernovas or a delicate little rose looks more like last month’s funeral flowers….eh…not so sexy, imo. (And according to my tattoo artist friend, not even the best artist in the world can fix what gravity and time do to ink.)

    Btw – loved the comment by the self-admitted shampoo bottle logo chick – “WHAT type of tattoo are you thinking of? Does it reflect who you are or what you stand for?” What does she stand for? Clean hair????

    As the great Jimmy Buffett says tattoos are “a permanent reminder of a temporary feeling”. Me – I prefer to keep my temporary feelings inside my head!

  39. Kristina Says:

    Grace Kelly, Jacqueline Kennedy, and the like would never have bought in and conceded. And I’m betting Kate Middleton isn’t lining up for one. Call me white bread, but I’ve never seen a chick I admired that sported one. Ever. And I pay attention. I’m 41, fashion obsessed, fit, and well-kept. Ears are pierced and that’s it. I swear to God I can guess by evaluating a woman head to toe (tattoo concealed) and talking with her for 5 minutes and tell if she has one. And she goes down a teeny notch in my book. Sorry if it sounds elitist, but it is what it is.

  40. Shannon Says:

    The label Tramp Stamp is a derogatory comment some frat boy came up with and it stuck. I got a tattoo on my lower back before the tag came out. I got it because it was small, could be covered for work and it was just for me. The fact that people use this as a form of identification and judgment is disgusting and it holds no water.

  41. Brian Marshall Says:

    I find it fascinating that in about 30 years there will be thousands of grannies with sleeves and tramp stamps, I would say "running around" but more like "pushing strollers" and "wheelchairs". Wow It will be the most epic display of degeneration the world has ever seen.

  42. Ron (1 comments.) Says:

    It is very rare these days to find blogs that provide information someone is looking for. I am glad to see that your blog share valued information that can help to many readers. Thanks and keep writing.

  43. tonny (1 comments.) Says:

    It seems like a good idea a the time, but they've lived longer and know when the regret starts to kick in.

  44. @JessicaClackum Says:

    FIrst, I'd like to say "Brian get outta my head!" LOL I'm really enjoying the pieces you've written.

    I don't have any tattoos and I would not get any. I've always seen tattoos as a sign of rebellion and hey I'm all for rebelling, I do it all the time.

    I've often wondered why women get tattooed in the lower back just above their ass. The only thing I can think of is that there's nothing more rebellious than getting a tattoo in a place that is in a very intimate part of one's body. Maybe she thinks "I'm going to put it there to show everyone who I am and that I can do whatever I want because it's MY body" and that's fine, showing one's feminist side. :) Remember there were many many years in American history when women had to cover up and hide their bodies.

    Every time I see one of these tattoos, it's on someone who intentionally wears low cut pants for the purpose of showing some skin. I know it's intentional because uh…well it can't be a mistake the pants hardly cover the buttcrack. :)

    The question I have though when I see them is "what are you trying to convey with the tat? If you're trying to convey you're different, it's not working because everyone else has one too."

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