Photos: Chinese women peel away stigmas against tattoos

Updated On Dec 27, 2017 10:56 AM IST

Still frowned upon in government jobs and many companies for being the mark of criminals or sex workers, the influence of celebrity culture is changing perceptions regarding tattoos in Chinese society, especially for women.

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Once the mark of criminals or sex workers, for centuries tattoos have been stigmatised in China but the growing influence of celebrity culture is changing all that -- particularly for women. The trend is most evident in Shanghai, China’s most cosmopolitan city and recently dubbed “China’s tattoo mecca” by the country’s state media. (AFP) View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Dec 27, 2017 10:56 AM IST

Once the mark of criminals or sex workers, for centuries tattoos have been stigmatised in China but the growing influence of celebrity culture is changing all that -- particularly for women. The trend is most evident in Shanghai, China’s most cosmopolitan city and recently dubbed “China’s tattoo mecca” by the country’s state media. (AFP)

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Tattoos displayed on the fingers of Zhuo Danting, widely considered one of China’s top tattoo artists at her studio. The 35-year-old has 70% of her body tattooed and has witnessed first-hand the tattoo explosion, having run her own Shanghai studio for 11 years. (AFP) View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Dec 27, 2017 10:56 AM IST

Tattoos displayed on the fingers of Zhuo Danting, widely considered one of China’s top tattoo artists at her studio. The 35-year-old has 70% of her body tattooed and has witnessed first-hand the tattoo explosion, having run her own Shanghai studio for 11 years. (AFP)

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A mannequin with tattoo designs displayed at a studio. Celebrities and sports stars, are inspiring younger Chinese to get inked, Zhuo said. “At the beginning, of course, they just give you a weird look, they’re freaking out,” Zhuo, who has multiple piercings and dyed green hair, said of public reactions. “But now there are a lot of people getting tattoos, it’s getting more and more popular... so they don’t see it as a big deal.” (AFP) View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Dec 27, 2017 10:56 AM IST

A mannequin with tattoo designs displayed at a studio. Celebrities and sports stars, are inspiring younger Chinese to get inked, Zhuo said. “At the beginning, of course, they just give you a weird look, they’re freaking out,” Zhuo, who has multiple piercings and dyed green hair, said of public reactions. “But now there are a lot of people getting tattoos, it’s getting more and more popular... so they don’t see it as a big deal.” (AFP)

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Zhuo (L) prepares a design for web designer and tattoo enthusiast Wang Qi (R) at her studio. 29-year-old Wang has several body designs. Her latest: Chinese characters for her grandmother’s name on the inside of her thigh. “Ten years ago, only 10% of people could accept women doing this. But now at least 60 to 70% of people can,” Wang said, while adding that quality can vary widely. (AFP) View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Dec 27, 2017 10:56 AM IST

Zhuo (L) prepares a design for web designer and tattoo enthusiast Wang Qi (R) at her studio. 29-year-old Wang has several body designs. Her latest: Chinese characters for her grandmother’s name on the inside of her thigh. “Ten years ago, only 10% of people could accept women doing this. But now at least 60 to 70% of people can,” Wang said, while adding that quality can vary widely. (AFP)

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In imperial times, convicts were sometimes tattooed as a reminder of their crimes, and tattoos were later used by Chinese triads to signify gang loyalties. Hu Deliang, tattooist and former head of the China Association of Tattoo Artists recalls, “Back in 2002, only about 20% (of customers) were female and most of them worked as escorts in nightclubs or that kind of industry.” (AFP) View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Dec 27, 2017 10:56 AM IST

In imperial times, convicts were sometimes tattooed as a reminder of their crimes, and tattoos were later used by Chinese triads to signify gang loyalties. Hu Deliang, tattooist and former head of the China Association of Tattoo Artists recalls, “Back in 2002, only about 20% (of customers) were female and most of them worked as escorts in nightclubs or that kind of industry.” (AFP)

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Wang Qi, gets new ink on her thigh in Shanghai. Zhuo has seen attitudes towards tattooed women change rapidly in the last three years and the Chinese increasingly experimenting with body art. “Before, when you saw a woman with a tattoo, it was usually just a small one,” she explained, adding: “But now you can see everywhere that they are having full sleeves, or chest, or full back.” (AFP) View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Dec 27, 2017 10:56 AM IST

Wang Qi, gets new ink on her thigh in Shanghai. Zhuo has seen attitudes towards tattooed women change rapidly in the last three years and the Chinese increasingly experimenting with body art. “Before, when you saw a woman with a tattoo, it was usually just a small one,” she explained, adding: “But now you can see everywhere that they are having full sleeves, or chest, or full back.” (AFP)

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Tattoos are still frowned upon in government positions and at many companies. Peng Lin, 31, works in advertising and is one of few in her circle with a tattoo, but many are considering it, she said. “Before, people may think women getting tattoos is sort of off-the-mainstream behaviour, but now they all appreciate them when they find out that tattoos can be pretty and artsy,” Peng said. (AFP) View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Dec 27, 2017 10:56 AM IST

Tattoos are still frowned upon in government positions and at many companies. Peng Lin, 31, works in advertising and is one of few in her circle with a tattoo, but many are considering it, she said. “Before, people may think women getting tattoos is sort of off-the-mainstream behaviour, but now they all appreciate them when they find out that tattoos can be pretty and artsy,” Peng said. (AFP)

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“Even now people are judging, they don’t think that people should get big tattoos, especially women,” said Zhuo, who has tattoos across both sides of her scalp. “Still, people think it’s more acceptable for men to get a tattoo than women and some get smaller ones to hide it from older family members or work,” she added. (AFP) View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Dec 27, 2017 10:56 AM IST

“Even now people are judging, they don’t think that people should get big tattoos, especially women,” said Zhuo, who has tattoos across both sides of her scalp. “Still, people think it’s more acceptable for men to get a tattoo than women and some get smaller ones to hide it from older family members or work,” she added. (AFP)

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With little official oversight, the number of tattooists has also mushroomed. But the percentage of good tattoos is quite low right now, Zhou said. China’s increasing prosperity, meanwhile, means more women can afford tattoos, which can cost thousands of yuan (hundreds of dollars) and would have earlier been considered unjustified splurges. Zhou feels that at least now, “It’s a cool thing, to represent yourself as different. (AFP) View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Dec 27, 2017 10:56 AM IST

With little official oversight, the number of tattooists has also mushroomed. But the percentage of good tattoos is quite low right now, Zhou said. China’s increasing prosperity, meanwhile, means more women can afford tattoos, which can cost thousands of yuan (hundreds of dollars) and would have earlier been considered unjustified splurges. Zhou feels that at least now, “It’s a cool thing, to represent yourself as different. (AFP)

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