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Scene Points: Punk Pin-Ups

 by Chelsea Ide  published on Thursday, September 29, 2005

Hottest of the bad./issues/arts/694102
courtesy of Suicide Girls
Hottest of the bad.
 

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Punk rock women are hot.

There is a misconception in our society (generally blamed on the media, but that's not really fair) that women with tattoos and piercings are not beautiful, and can't be considered feminine. We are. Being able to stick a finger through an ear lobe piercing shouldn't negate a woman's femininity - it doesn't mean she's tough, it doesn't mean she'll beat you up and it doesn't mean she's a lesbian, it merely means she finds something striking in body art.

The founder of SuicideGirls.com, Missy, agrees. Her Web site features photographs of women with tattoos (not just a butterfly on the hip, but full back pieces), piercings and punk attitude in poses reminiscent of pin-up girls from 1940s and 50s, like Bettie Page.

"I really liked the way the pin-up style reflects the strength and beauty of women," says Missy, 27.

The site started as an art project when Missy returned to Oregon to study photography. She reconnected with some friends, most of who had extensive tattoo work and facial piercings. Missy says she was impressed by the way these women carried themselves and knew she wanted to capture their beauty on film.

"These women were all so confident and comfortable with who they were and with their bodies, and I loved that," says Missy, now a Portland resident, of the first Suicide Girls. "These girls are unapologetic for who they are."

As they should be. No one should feel the need to explain themselves, their style or their reasoning for adorning their body, because (ideally) you should have made those decisions because it's who you are and you do not have to justify yourself to anyone. It's normal for people to be curious and explaining the meaning behind a tattoo is usually pretty interesting to the uninitiated. So fill the person in, as long as he or she didn't ask, "Why the hell would you do that to yourself?" because rudeness doesn't dignify a response.

With more than 1,000 Suicide Girls on the site, Missy's display of art has turned into a home for punk rock girls to be themselves -- and for guys (and girls) who dig them to get off. While I don't believe that SuicideGirls.com is a completely altruistic Web site created with the goal of proving women with body modifications are pretty (seeing naked girls make out is about sexual stimulation, not inner strength), I do think it does accomplish some of that.

The number of people who belong to the Suicide Girls Web community -- the message boards are highly active, Missy says -- as well as the packed houses at each stop of last year's burlesque tour is a sign that more of our society is accepting these women and perhaps the face of beauty is beginning to change. Ads in women's magazines like Cosmopolitan and Glamour now feature women with colorful tattoos (not to the scale of some of the ladies of Suicide Girls, but still). The movement is slow, but not at a stand-still.

I hope that before I'm 30, it will no longer be commonplace for someone to be intimidated by one of my sweet, demure friends at a bar, merely because she has tattoos covering both of her arms. Trust me, she'll even still want you to kill bugs for her.

To see some of the more tame Suicide Girls and their art, click here to view the slideshow.

Reach the reporter at chelsea.ide@asu.edu.



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