Inkspiration: 6 tattoos celebrating women and feminism
Updated: Mar 9, 2020
By Clodagh Meaney
In 2017, I got my first of two feminist-centric tattoos. "Nevertheless, she persisted" was tattooed on my ribs as I held on tight to my best friend's hand. I had just been through two bereavements, and I wanted to mark how persistent I was at surviving, despite wanting so much to quit. To me, it celebrates how no matter what, I persist. Women persist. Not only that, but I really love the roots of the quote. Used in American politics, the phrase was uttered in the senate as an attempt to silence then Senator, and current 2020 presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren.
There are some beautiful, and meaningful tattoos out there that celebrate women, and their stories. I asked social media about theirs, and they delivered. Here is some tattoo inspiration for you this International Women's Day.
Lauren's Burning Bra
Tattoo by LiiLee Tattoos.
"This is to represent what many believe to be the beginning of modern feminism. Although it’s true that feminists from the 1960’s/70’s did not actually burn their bra’s, to me it is an image that represents a huge part of feminist history." Lauren told us.
"The image of a bra on fire represents, to me, the removal of what is/was expected of women; for example: Women should be pretty, they should smile and be polite at all times, women shouldn’t talk back to a man etc. The burning bra represents women not being compliant with this way of thinking and tearing down societies ideas of how a woman should be."
Sarah's Repeal vote total
Tattoo by Niamh Coughlan.
"I was inspired to get the tattoo because I was so overwhelmed and humbled by the amount of people who came out to vote yes and support women and pregnant people in Ireland. It is an incredible number and I will never forget it.
I felt it was important to have a female artist do the tattoo and I had been following Niamh Coughlan's work for some time and she had done several Repeal tattoos and so I got in touch with her and she did an amazing job. It's my smallest tattoo but it means the most to me."
Aoife's homage to women.
Tattoo by LiiLee Tattoos.
"I got the 'Stand In Awe Of All Mná' tattoo like many people during the [Repeal campaign], to commemorate the fight, the struggle.
A campaign that felt like an eternity was coming to an end, and regardless of the outcome as it was being doing as the votes were being counted, I'd wanted the tattoo to remember the passion I'd felt alongside my friends, peers and so much more that had being screaming and shouting for the simple right to choice.
The line, which is from Emmet Kirwan's "Heartbreak" is something I just found so moving, relatable and representative of womanhood in Ireland and my own experiences, it never fails to make me cry.
Rion's Floral Chest piece.
"Ive had it about a year! It took 5 hours straight through, with only a 20-minute break in the middle. I went with my mother to get the tattoo done, which means a lot to me, as she raised me to be a feminist, and she has been such a strong female influence in my life.
There's a lot of meaning in this tattoo. The ferns have to do with my family and my home. The violets in the middle, those are a traditional symbol of sapphic love. Women who love women used to give bunches of violets to their loves as an undercover sign of affection and adoration.
I'm trans-non-binary, and I date women and other non-binary people, but even though I currently feel more connected to masculinity, femininity and womanhood still has a big place in my identity; although it's deeper down. To me, violets are a sign of my queerness and my love for women, as well as a sign for the female energy that is still a part of my identity alongside my male and my non-binary energy.
The honey bee is a direct reference to feminism. I found many of my friends and my community through feminism and feminist activism, so I wanted to reference that and honour that on my body.
To me, honey bees are such a powerful feminist symbol. they are matriarchal, and most of the hive are female. They're so community-based; even the little worker bees, without them and without every individual member, the community wouldn't function. It's a symbol of how we are all interconnected, and how we need to to work together and rely on each other as women and non-binary individuals in our feminist practice, in order to make the world a better place."
Issie's floral heart
Tattoo by Shauna Swan Tattoo.
"I’ve always been excited and proud to be so girly, I’m all about pink and sparkles, so when my good friend Shauna Swan asked me could she design a tattoo for my leg, keeping all the girly vibes in mind, I was so excited. The tattoo itself took about 4 and a half hours as Shauna was a training apprentice at the time, and although it was painful, I had Shauna to keep me company throughout. For me it was exciting to have a friend do it but also just exactly what it was representing.
Being a woman is hard work for sure, but I feel in the near future, things are going to get easier for us. More and more woman are speaking up and telling the world that equality is all we want. I'm very proud to be part of such an empowering movement and now I have that reminder on my leg everyday."
Jess's Venus Symbol
Tattoo by Kelsi Kelson
"I had been wanting to get [a tattoo] for a while, even though my dad was extremely against it. However I couldn’t quite think of something that I’d want on my body forever. Then the American presidential election of 2016 happened. I, like most Americans, was outraged and scared. So when I heard about the Women’s March that was going to be happening on Jan. 20th 2017, I knew I had to go.
After being empowered by all the speakers that were at my March in Champaign, Illinois. I knew what tattoo I wanted. I got the symbol for women with flowers around it. It is a reminder that I am strong and powerful, and yet beautiful still. It’s a reminder for me that there are millions of other women who stand with me in power as well. It’s a reminder that I am in control of my body, no matter who is sitting in office."