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LA Ink: tattooing, gender, and the casual leisure of tattoo television

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Abstract

Tattooing has historically been associated with masculine subcultures. Therefore, men are often represented as tattoo artists—rarely women. LA Ink is the only reality tattoo television show that has a predominantly female cast. How does this representation impact women working in the tattoo industry—the object of the representation? Interviews were conducted with seventy women who are either tattoo collectors, tattoo artists, or both, and asked about their thoughts on the representation of women on tattoo television shows and the impact on the industry. Interviewees also provide insight on their experiences of being a heavily tattooed woman or artist. This article uses Robert Stebbins’ theoretical framework of ‘casual leisure’ to hypothesize that the target audience of LA Ink and other shows, is more likely casual tattoo collectors of both genders, less invested in the tattooing profession than artists or serious collectors. The article also uses feminist theory to understand the particular role of women working in the male dominated industry as well as the social differences for women when they become heavily tattooed, as compared to men.

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Correspondence to Beverly Yuen Thompson.

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Thompson, B.Y. LA Ink: tattooing, gender, and the casual leisure of tattoo television. Int J Sociol Leis 2, 301–316 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41978-018-00026-8

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s41978-018-00026-8

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