Tattooing the body, a traditionally masculine and, in some interpretations, deviant practice is increasingly being adopted by women. Contemporary boundaries of acceptable feminine presentation are changing to accept a body that is somewhat more masculine, including tone and muscle. However, for many women athletes strict conformity to feminine standards of presentation is often necessary to avoid the negative consequences of a collective public gaze which tends to judge her more on her outward appearance than on her athletic abilities. Physical attributes of the woman athlete often transgress the hazy dividing line between feminine and masculine and prompt frequent challenges to the femininity and sexuality of a woman athlete. How then might women athletes negotiate the shifting signifiers of having a tattoo within their self-surveillance of feminine presentation? Two hundred forty-five university-aged Canadian women athletes were surveyed to gain insight regarding their practices and interpretations of permanent and temporary tattooing. Results showed that a significantly smaller number of subjects had permanent tattoos than might be expected in a university population; however a majority utilized temporary tattoos in game situations as a motivating factor for their team. For this sample population, the desire for tattooing the body came as an indicator of achieving a significant sporting accomplishment such as making an Olympic team or winning a national championship.
Dayna B. Daniels, Ph.D. Department of Kinesiology University of Lethbridge Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada T1K 1R1 Email:firstname.lastname@example.org