Human beings have a surprisingly long relationship with the concept of swimwear. After all, the first heated swimming pool is believed to have been built by Gaius Maecenas of Rome in the 1st century BC.
Before the early 1800s, it was relatively common to swim either nude or simply in your underwear. When communal swimming baths became more popular and prevalent in the mid-19th century, decorum demanded men and women cover their modesty with garments made specially for the purpose. Women covered up with cotton or wool bathing dresses, drawers, and sometimes even stockings.
While seeming ungainly today, these impractical garments must have been liberating for women used to corsets and long, hampering skirts worn over multiple petticoats. By their very nature these “swimming suits” also threatened entrenched ideas around feminine activity (or lack thereof), perhaps suggesting women who swam energetically could no longer be considered “the weaker sex”.
Nonetheless, modesty presided above all else during this period, and it wasn’t until women began to swim competitively that change began.
A scandalous arrest
Water, particularly the beach, has been described by fashion scholars Harold Koda and Richard Martin as the “great proscenium of twentieth-century dress” – a statement that encourages us to rethink the importance of swimwear in our everyday dress and lifestyles.
In 1907, Australian swimmer Annette Kellerman was arrested on Revere Beach, Massachusetts, for wearing a one-piece bathing suit in public. This garment was a sporting necessity, and fellow athletes successfully championed a skirtless, sleeveless one-piece for the 1912 Olympics.
Kellerman’s incredible figure was admired as much as her actions were berated, and she was known to strip down to her bathing costume in all-female public lectures, proving a healthy lifestyle (rather than a corset) was to thank for her silhouette.
“If more girls would swim and dance and care for athletics”, she commented in 1910, “instead of rushing into matrimony as the only joy in the world, there’d be fewer divorces”.
The new one-piece contributed hugely to what has been described as the “erotic theatre” of the pool edge: swimwear is an item of both form and function, and so the pool or sea is an acceptable space to bare all.
Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie
The introduction of elastic yarn in the 1930s created a fabric that clung to the body and enabled risqué designs.
The influence of the Hollywood starlet, lying immaculate (and dry) by a sparkling pool sowed the seed swimwear need have nothing to do with exercise. It could instead suggest leisure and luxury: the embodiment of a society now used to annual holidays.
The 1940s introduced what we now recognise as the bikini, and the 50s saw iconic portrayals of swimsuits worn by the likes of Esther Williams and Marilyn Monroe.
Soon, swimwear’s eroticism was being used by some to promote ideals of gender equality and acceptance.
In 1964, Austrian-American designer Rudi Gernreich introduced his notorious “Monokini”, a bathing suit featuring two skinny straps just grazing the breasts.
Gernreich hoped the suit would challenge existing prudishness and shame around the nude female body. His plan backfired. From its birth, the press described the monokini as controversial – and, although it sold well, it never became conventional swimwear.
The 1970s and 80s welcomed fashionable suits and bikinis with less internal structuring, fitting the silhouette of the decade. Fashionable first and practical second, they could still withstand a certain amount of sun, sand and chlorine.
A protest symbol
Swimming, fashion, and baring all are not mutually exclusive.
“Rashies” or “rash guards” (so-called because they protect the wearer from rashes and sunburn), are long-sleeved waterproof shirts that first originated as surfwear. In countries like Australia with prominent beach culture and harsh weather the garment has grown in popularity.
In 2004, Australian designer Aheda Zanetti, inspired by the increasing presence of Muslim women in Australian sports (especially swimming), created the “burkini”. Acting as a kind of lightweight wetsuit, the garment covers the entire body and comes in a variety of styles and colours.
The style came under intense scrutiny in 2016 when several French municipalities banned the burkini in line with the country’s secular laws (it had banned the wearing of a burqa and niqab three years earlier).
It doesn’t seem to matter whether women’s swimsuits bare-all or cover-all: those wearing them will still be judged. But much as the shift from bulky dresses to lean one-pieces opened up new opportunities for women in the water, this latest suit also makes the beach lifestyle more accessible, with wearers remaining both cool and UV-protected.
With our “house on fire”, as Thunberg eloquently put it, we may be seeing more swimsuit innovation heading our way as a matter of necessity.
In this series, we look at under-acknowledged women through the ages.
When Grata Flos Matilda Greig walked into her first law school class at the University of Melbourne in 1897, it was illegal for women to become lawyers. But though the legal system did not even recognise her as a person, she won the right to practice and helped thousands of other women access justice. In defying the law, Greig literally changed its face.
That she did so is a story worthy of history books. And how she achieved this offers key insights for women a century later as they navigate leadership roles in the legal profession and beyond.
Flos, as she was known, grew up in a household full of possibilities unlimited by gender boundaries. Born in Scotland, as a nine-year-old she spent three months sailing to Australia with her family to settle in Melbourne in 1889. Her father founded a textile manufacturing company. Both parents believed that Flos and her siblings – four sisters and three brothers – should be university educated at a time when women rarely were.
She grew up firm in the knowledge that women could thrive in professional life, and witnessed that reality unfold as older sisters Janet and Jean trained to become doctors. Another sister, Clara, would go on to found a tutoring school for university students. The fourth sister, Stella, followed Flos to study law.
Women could not vote or hold legislative office, let alone be lawyers, when 16-year-old Flos began to study law. Yet she did not let this deter her. As she approached graduation she focused on, “the many obstacles in the path of my full success. I resolved to remove them”.
Other feminine aspirants, she noted, had previously wished to enter the profession, “but the impediments in the way were so great, that they concluded, after consideration, it was not worthwhile”.
Flos felt otherwise. She declared, even in 1903 when women were largely excluded from public life: “Women are men’s equals in every way and they are quite competent to hold their own in all spheres of life.”
‘The Flos Greig Enabling Bill’
Six years after entering the University of Melbourne, Flos witnessed the Victorian Legislative Assembly’s passing of the Women’s Disabilities Removal Bill, also known as the Flos Greig Enabling Bill. Suddenly, women could enter the practice of law. How had she made this happen?
While childhood had provided Flos with role models from both sexes, she did have to rely upon a series of men to navigate her entry into the exclusively male club of the legal profession. Her male classmates had initially questioned the capabilities of a woman lawyer and resisted her presence, but she soon persuaded them otherwise.
Not only did Flos graduate second in her class, but the men took a vote to declare – affirmatively – that women should be allowed to practice law. Their support undoubtedly fuelled her ambitions.
Next, Flos turned to one of her lecturers, John Mackey, who happened to also be a member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly. Together they worked with other supporters to craft the legislative change. Mackey argued that by passing the law, Parliament could ease the concerns of women who believed they could not get justice from a legislative body made up only of men.
Still, Flos needed to complete a period of supervised training known as “articling” before she could be sworn into the bar. No Australian woman had ever engaged in the “articles of clerkship” before. A Melbourne commercial law solicitor Frank Cornwall employed her, and she was officially admitted to the practice of law on August 1, 1905.
At her swearing-in ceremony, Chief Justice John Madden described Flos as “the graceful incoming of a revolution”. He also expressed some scepticism about her future success:
Women are more sympathetic than judicial, more emotional than logical. In the legal profession knowledge of the world is almost if not quite as essential as knowledge of the law, and knowledge of the world, women, even if they possess it, would lie loth to assert.
Flos would prove him wrong about her knowledge of the world, both in law and in her other passion, travel.
‘What did I wear? Don’t ask me!’
At the ceremony, her name was the third called – in alphabetical order – before what was reportedly an “unusually large gathering of lawyers, laymen, and ladies … seldom seen in halls of justice”. Attendees noticed smiles that “flickered over the faces of the judges as they entered the crowded chamber” at the sight of Flos among her “somberly-clad male” counterparts.
News accounts focused more on the physical attributes of the first lady lawyer than her qualifications. When questioned by a reporter about her clothing choice for the occasion, Flos blushed, “What did I wear? Don’t ask me!” But then confessed, “Well, if you insist! I wore grey, with a greenish tinted hat, trimmed with violets!”
Another news reporter critiqued the flower-adorned hat as “a most unlegal costume”. As if there was any basis for making such an assessment – until that moment the nation had never seen the “costume” of a female lawyer. The media’s fixation with female lawyers’ appearance endures more than a century later.
Flos soon established a solo practice in Melbourne focusing on women and children. Among other endeavours, she represented the Women’s Christian Temperance Union in lobbying to establish the Children’s Court of Victoria.
Media fascination with Flos’s attire did not diminish once admitted to practice. She delivered a speech in 1905 to the third annual National Congress of Women of Victoria on a paper she wrote titled, “Some Points of the Law Relating to Women and Children”.
The reporter noted that Flos “treated her subject in a masterly manner, and gave an immense amount of useful and, at times, startling information”. But Flos’s “stylish, yet simple, gown of grey voile, with cream lace vest” was equally newsworthy as were “her pretty black hat and white gloves”. The fashion choices of other (male) speakers went unmentioned.
Flos also helped open the legal profession to other women. She founded The Catalysts’ Society in 1910. Two years later it became the prestigious Lyceum Club in Melbourne, devoted to advancing the careers of women and offering networking opportunities.
After the launch of the Women’s Law Society of Victoria in 1914, Flos was elected its first president. She cared deeply about the right of all women to vote, arguing in a 1905 debate that if “politics were not fit” for women, “the sooner they were made so the better.” (In 1908 Victorian women won the right the vote.)
Law was not Flos’s only pursuit. She travelled extensively. Two decades after graduating from law school, she took a lengthy trip through Asia, spending time in Singapore, China, Bali, Java, Malaysia and two weeks in the Burma jungle. She stayed in local homes and on her return, spoke to audiences about the experience, delighting them with tales of “leopards, tigers, wild pigs, peacocks, … and wild jungle fowl”. She lectured publicly and on radio stations about the geography, religion and race.
The end of her career took Flos to Wangaratta in Northern Victoria. She practised at a law firm headed by Paul McSwiney, and was known to explore the countryside in a “Baby Austin” tourer. She remained an activist, supporting higher education for women and the Douglas Credit Party, a political party that aimed to remedy the economic hardships of the 1930s depression.
Flos died in 1958. While she did not live to see other female firsts, such as the appointment of the first female Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria in 2003, Flos’ capacity to envision women as equals under the law places her among the profession’s greatest innovators.
In this series, we look at under-acknowledged women through the ages.
On 22 January 1856, an extraordinary event in Australia’s history occurred. It is not part of our collective national identity, nor has it been mythologised over the decades through song, dance, or poetry. It doesn’t even have a hashtag. But on this day in the thriving gold rush town of Castlemaine, two women took to the polls and cast their votes in a democratic election.
Two days later, Melbourne newspaper The Argus unwittingly granted one of them posterity, writing “two women voted – one, the famous Mrs. Fanny Finch”. Fanny Finch was a London-born businesswoman of African heritage, a single mother of four and is the first known woman to cast a vote in an Australian election.
Victorian women over the age of 21 (excluding Indigenous women) would not receive full unconditional suffrage until 1908. (Victorian Indigenous women were not enfranchised until 1965.) But Fanny Finch, as a local business owner who paid rates, was able to exploit a loophole in suffrage law that was yet to discriminate against gender or race.
The Municipal Institutions Act of 1854 granted suffrage to ratepaying “persons”. The loophole was eventually closed in 1865 when “persons” became “men”.
Who was Fanny?
Frances Finch was born Frances Combe in London in 1815. At eight-weeks-old she was orphaned by her mother after a tryst with a footman ended in a pregnancy but no marriage proposal.
A cross-stitch sampler attributed to Frances Coombe (sic) in 1830 at the age of 15 suggests she understood both her parents to be free people of African racial heritage (although the UK did not free slaves unconditionally until 1838.) The London Foundling Hospital, where Fanny was accepted as an orphan, provided her with some protection against slavery as well as an otherwise inaccessible education and access to an apprenticeship scheme in “household duties”.
By 1837, a 22-year-old Fanny was a free, literate, educated, and experienced domestic servant. In that year she was approved a labourer’s free passage to the new colony of South Australia.
In Adelaide, Fanny was a valued employee of Julia Wyatt, an author, artist, and wife of the surgeon and first Protector of Aborigines, Dr. William Wyatt. Over the course of the next decade Fanny left their employment, married a sailor, Joseph Finch, and started a family.
By 1850, for reasons unknown, Fanny had left her husband. With her four children in tow, she made her way to Victoria. She arrived in the colony 12 months before the start of the Victorian gold rush. By early 1852 she was operating a restaurant and lodging house on the Forest Creek goldfields, alongside approximately 25,000 gold digging men and a handful of women.
There, in the fledgling township of Forest Creek, Mrs Finch’s Board and Lodging House became “the only one in which any person could get respectable accommodation”. By 1854, she had moved to nearby Castlemaine where she ran a restaurant. She quickly became one of its most recognisable faces.
A successful businesswoman
Fanny was a successful businesswoman, known to dress in bright blue silk with her black hair adorned in artificial flowers. Strong and robust, with an even larger personality she was not one to shy away from attempting to remedy injustice when she saw it – be it with her words, her cooking or her fists. Evidently, she possessed visibility and power.
Her business acumen and conspicuity make it probable that her male contemporaries were unsurprised when they witnessed Fanny cast her vote at the Hall of Castlemaine (now the Theatre Royal). Did the men taunt her? Encourage her? Or were they complacent? We cannot know. We do know that no one stopped her. She selected her preference and signed her name.
That afternoon, however, the two assessors of the day disallowed both Fanny and the other unknown woman’s votes. Their reasons were cited as: “they (the women) had no right to vote”. Further details were not divulged.
Still, Walter Smith, the man for whom Fanny voted, was elected to council. Smith was an agent and brewer who arrived at Forest Creek at around the same time as Fanny. Little is known about what motivated her to vote for him but no one else, despite being allowed to vote in seven councillors. She was clearly determined to elect him to council.
A rare glimpse
During colonial times women were rarely identified by name in the press – particularly women of the working class. The 1856 Argus report now offers historians an unprecedented opportunity to identify an otherwise invisible minority – the 19th century Australian woman of colour – as an active participant in our political history.
Fanny was a woman, who, through relative privilege – wielded with her own blood, sweat and tears – refused to founder beneath the weight of a white, Anglo-male world of commerce. However, this came at a price. As a woman of colour occupying space in a white man’s world, assaults on her success were not uncommon. Yet she refused to disappear.
One of those assaults occurred in December 1855. Fanny Finch was fined £50 for the illicit sale of alcohol, known as “sly-grogging”. After a month-long trial, which involved scandalous cross-examinations of miners, policemen, and even her two young sons, she was charged and fined.
Despite the exorbitant fine and the public slandering of her character and commercial integrity, Fanny Finch was not defeated. Like many business people on the goldfields, she both owed money and was owed it by others, but over the following four months, she began an unprecedented campaign of self-representation.
The day following her conviction she published a letter in the local paper accusing the local authorities of injustice (a copy of this has not survived).
A month on, she cast that vote. Then a few months later in April, she published the following advertisement.
Mrs. Finch begs to inform the inhabitants of Castlemaine that henceforth she will carry on business for her children and would be happy to receive any outstanding debts … finding that the more she herself strives the more she is oppressed, although she can firmly state that if those who are in her debt would come forward each with one third, she will be relieved of all debt, have a good home for her family and about two thousand pounds in her pocket.
Fanny Finch also begs to state that as in her affluence she was so kindly trusted, they may be sure that she, from her own free will, may some day liquidate all, but she must have her time … and in spite of what enemies she may have, she intends to keep throughout the winter ready cooked Ham, Beef Soups (a la mode) from seven in the morning to seven in the night.
The vote of the famous Mrs. Fanny Finch adds a woman of colour’s voice to what Clare Wright has described as an unorganised movement for women’s rights during the 1850s.
Fanny died on the 15th October 1863, aged 48. She was remembered as “a strong minded woman” with “a genuine tenderness of heart, ever ready to serve another in distress … without the slightest ostentation”.
She was given a public burial in an unmarked grave at Castlemaine Cemetery.
Almost a quarter of Australian women now have tattoos – a trend some attribute to the influence of feminism. What I find interesting is that the mainstreaming of female tattooing in the west has finally caught up with a practice that is thousands of years old.
Ancient Egyptian female mummies have been found with tattoos. Thracian women were depicted with “sleeve” tattoos on their arms in Greek vases from the 5th century BCE. In traditional Maori culture, the eldest daughter in elite families was tattooed as part of a sacred ceremony.
I have also been researching abstract painted motifs on nude female Cycladic sculptures, which I argue are evidence that women were tattooed in the Cycladic islands in Greece in the Early Bronze Age (ca. 3000-2000 BCE).
My interest in tattooing stems from my upbringing. Living in Aotearoa, from roughly the ages of eight to 28, meant that I was exposed to Maori and Pacific Islands tattooing attitudes. In Pacific cultures, where the tattooist has traditionally been (and usually continues to be) male, ancient stories say that the ancestral gods originally wanted women to safeguard the practice and be the primary recipients of tattoos. Nevertheless, both men and women were tattooed in Maori society prior to British colonisation in the 19th century.
But the Tohunga Suppression Act of 1907 criminalised tattooing as one of the teachings and practices of Tohunga (Maori experts or priests). In 1962, the Maori Welfare Act was introduced in Aotearoa, repealing this act. Since then, there has been a resurgence in tattooing among both men and women there.
My first seven tattoos
I grew up with friends who appreciated the significance of tattoos. As soon I turned 18, in 2000, I was off to a local parlour to embrace legal adulthood and get a small tattoo. I had drawn it myself, using elements of my zodiac sign.
My second tattoo was my first mermaid design. The motif was a larger version of a charm my father had given me. I wanted to be like that mermaid – able to live in different environments (above the sea and below it). I had moved out of home and was making my own way in a new city and attending university.
My next five designs (“Are You Experienced”; “Electric Lady”; and “Axis Bold as Love”, and two large mermaids on each side of my back) were done by a Maori tattooist, Manu Edwin. I listened to a lot of Hendrix when I was dealing with depression as an undergraduate student, especially the three albums recorded by The Experience.
Edwin shared my philosophy that tattooing is a transformative process. He would play each album loudly in the studio as he was tattooing me – just as music and singing were traditionally used to drown out the “tap-tap” of tattoos being carved into the skin with hand held tools in the Pacific region.
I find that the physical pain of being tattooed puts emotional and mental pain into perspective. I love that the raw tattoo must be cared for gently in the following weeks after the procedure, and that the result is permanent. My tattoos turn something ugly from my past into something beautiful for my present and future.
Before I describe my eighth and most recent tattoo, let’s look at four ancient cultures that tattooed their women.
Maori (ca.1250 CE)
Elsdon Best was an ethnographer who gathered detailed information from the Tuhoe tribe (from the North Island of Aotearoa) in the very early 1900s. He recounts in his book, The Uhi-Maori (1904), that elite families tattooed the younger sisters prior to the tattooing of the eldest one, who was the most tapu (sacred).
The tattooing of the lips and chin of the first-born daughter of a chief was extremely tapu, and the rite was called ahi ta ngutu (sacred fire). During the tattooing, others from the tribe would surround the patient and sing specific whakatangitangi (repetitive songs) to ease the painful and highly sacred process, the song for women being the whakawai taanga ngutu.
The motifs of the tattoo would be determined by an individual’s genealogy, and the placement of tattoos on the body was significant. People without tattoos were papatea (unmarked, and thus of lower status), and to be tattooed was a sign of attractiveness and high status in the community.
Thracian (ca.500 BCE)
Thrace of the Greco-Roman world existed in what we now call east Macedonia, southeast Bulgaria and parts of Turkey. Pictorial representations of Thracian women with tattoos appear on Greek red-figure vases such as the one pictured here, with a Thracian woman attacking Orpheus.
Luc Renaut, an art historian, suggests that in Thrace, tattooing added beauty, and therefore value, to women in a society where they were bought for marriage (that is, they incurred a bride price). This was in contrast to the Classical Greek and Roman systems in which the bride’s family gave payments (a dowry) to the groom’s family.
Depictions of women on Classical vases (ca. 500 BCE), show Thracian women with geometric and figurative tattoos. The tattoos reinforce the Thracian-ness of the woman in the scene. And indicate that she is not your run-of-the-mill Athenian lass who can’t stand the lyre.
Greek vase painting gives a visual account of the geometric and figurative motifs on Thracian women: zigzags, dots, lines, meanders, checkerboard patterns, spirals, ladder patterns, “stick-figure” animals, half-moons, rayed suns, and rosettes.
Tattoos were placed on the arms, legs, ankles, chest, neck, and chin. Sometimes entire arms or legs were covered with bands of designs, row upon row.
Egyptian (Eleventh Dynasty: 2040-1991 BCE)
Much older artistic (and direct) evidence of female tattooing comes from Egypt. Egyptian tattoos from the late third to early second millennium survive on female mummies and were replicated on female figurines.
A pair of Eleventh Dynasty female Egyptian mummies excavated at Deir el-Bahari is the strongest evidence that in the Middle Kingdom, Egyptian women were tattooed.
The preserved “dotted diamond” tattoo motif is clearly visible on the arm of one of the mummies. The same motif can be seen on Egyptian potency figurines from the same site and period.
The striking similarity between the painted motifs on the figurine and the preserved tattoos on the female mummy are compelling evidence that cultures that tattooed their women produced female figures with tattoos painted on their bodies.
Egyptian tattooing kits consisted of three items found in the archaeological record. These are razors, needles or pins, and small containers of dried carbon based black pigment. All of these elements of the basic tattooing kit (not just in Egypt but around the world) are multifunctional items. They could be useful for non-permanent body modification: shaping eyebrows, using black eyeliner. Needles and pins could be used to sew clothing, pop pimples, or remove splinters.
Ancient people were very resourceful, and tattooing is very basic. At the core of the procedure is pricking the skin and getting some pigment into the wound. The process of prick-tattooing by hand is reflected by the representation of the diamond pattern on both the mummified tattoo and on the potency figurine shown here.
Today the cluster of needles on an electric tattooing machine are so small that you can’t differentiate the dots: a mechanism moves the needles up and down extremely quickly. But in 2000 BCE, tattooing in Egypt was done with singular pointed implements or a few pins bound together held in the hand of the tattooist, using their wrist strength to repeatedly poke a motif into the skin.
The points may have been dipped into an ink beforehand and it is likely that afterwards the whole area would be rubbed with more ink for good measure to try and get a clear, dark final result.
Cycladic (ca.2500 BCE)
The Cycladic people (ca. 3000-2000 BCE) colonised the Cycladic Islands. They were the first major Aegean civilisation to flourish in the Early Bronze Age, until the Minoans of Crete rose to prominence with their maritime prowess in the Middle Bronze Age (ca. 2000-1500 BCE). The mortuary practices of Cycladic people (burial, sometimes multiple burials) and the climatic conditions of the islands, means that there are no preserved tattooed skin remains to support my argument that their women were tattooed.
However, like their southern Mediterranean Egyptian neighbours, they produced nude female figures with geometric designs across the face and body. This is where the iconographic evidence of the “tattooed” Cycladic figurines aligns with Egyptian female tattooing evidence.
Furthermore, I have identified objects in the Cycladic archaeological repertoire which are present in the Egyptian tattooing kits – small containers of preserved pigment, obsidian blades to shave the skin, and needles and pins made of bone and metal.
These items are also useful beyond the body modification sphere too – butchering, cooking, crafting, espionage – I could go on. But my point (pun intended) is that people should include tattooing in the list of possible uses for these items.
The painted Cycladic figurines and statues that constitute my artistic evidence are probably the most well known artefacts of this culture. However, their abstract painted decoration was not fully realised until art conservator Elizabeth Hendrix’s research in the 1990s and early 2000s. Under special photographic conditions, she found faint traces of red, blue, and black pigment (sometimes noticeable with the naked eye) were revealed to be the remains of a colourful array of abstract painted motifs. These include: dots, zigzags, stripes, eyes, and possibly linear representations of the Egyptian deity, Bes.
To me, the most enigmatic Cycladic tattoo motif is the eye. Blue evil eye charms are still a potent good luck symbol in the Mediterranean and Near East. You can see it on the neck of the example shown here.
Cycladic culture was an oral one that did not create it own script and leave any written clues per se. Instead their cultural ideas are inscribed on the sculptures. I read their designs as tattoos, which identified their bearers as women who had accomplished a certain status in Cycladic society.
My eighth tattoo
I chose a blue evil eye as my eighth, and most recent tattoo motif – to pay homage to the eye painted on Cycladic female sculptures. It was done by a female tattooist in Athens on my last research trip to Greece in 2014.
The power of female fertility and perils of prehistoric childbirth in ancient societies probably meant that tattoos on women conveyed certain messages. They were indicative of the passage from girlhood to womanhood, of female power and female beauty.
If I see my tattoos as permanent records of rites of passage and power over adversity, ancient women and their societies may have been doing the same – but with a more restricted range of motif options. The limited range of motifs would have been due to both social conventions, the skill of the tattooist, and the tools used to create the tattoo.
Next time you see a piece written about female tattooing today, I hope you will wonder at how feminism, globalisation and tattooing have taken so long to come full circle. Once again, women are now the primary recipients of this ancient, permanent body modification practice.