Rockabilly Girls

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Crianza, Hannah. Personal Interview by Ashlee Rocha. 070112010.
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Today tattoos are seen everywhere on everyone from men to women and young to old. Many celebrities have tattoos giving society the official “okay”to follow in their footsteps. Tattoos have not only become popular and the thing to do, but are actually a form of art. Members of the Rockabilly sub-culture practice this art by displaying meaningful tattoos on their blank canvas they call their bodies. Not only do people call tattoos a form of art, today it has actually entered fine art museums such as the Noyes Museum where tattoos are exhibited. According to tattoo artist, Titus,” It’s not only just an exhibition of the work, but we wanted it to be informative to people who don’t think tattooing is an art.” By allowing tattooing to be showcased in fine art museums helps to open the door to higher culture and confirm how mainstream tattoos really are. Society didn’t always used to be as accepting as it is today. During the 1950s people viewed tattoos negatively and weren’t open to change. Christians believed tattoos damaged the body that symbolized a temple of purity. Others felt they were not traditional and a form of rebellion. It wasn’t common or socially normal for a house wife to show much skin let alone have a tattoo. The only women brave enough to challenge the boundaries of being a woman were only found in one place, freak shows.

People today have opened up to more types of beauty then ever. Tattoos and piercings have become a break through for beauty, although for the longest time it was the wrong thing to do now women with tattoos and piercings are in magazines showing them off. It is now getting the respect it deserves because these strong Rockabilly women who have come forward and made their way through the barriers of “old beauty” and made a path for “new beauty” for other women who now have a place to showcase their unique qualities. These women love to dress up in 50s vintage chic clothing but flaunt their assertive confidence at the same time, with  their tattoos and piercings. Although this may seem ironic it is a strong way of breaking the cycle of past beauty to present. According to Hannah, “The highwaisted pencil skirt, red lipstick, and two-toned hair up in curls with the art of tattoos up and down your arms and legs to me shows a woman’s confidence and beauty.”.

According to Hannah, “Pinup gives the classy elegant look of the 50’s, which women were meant to look nice and stay home, yet has a rebel twist”. In Marilyn Monroe’s era a woman’s job was to stay home with the children, clean, cook and always be in the best of the best mood when the husband came home from work. The pinup models in the 50s were pure, pale skinned, and modest.  Today pin-up girls and Rockabilly girls subvert those norms by dressing in vintage clothing, hair in tight curls, and make-up done to perfection with personal modifications like tattoos, piercings, and assertive attitude. By combining these two ways today’s models redefine beauty by breaking down the gender norms and allowing people to see the beauty in what used to be a disgrace. No longer are women in freak shows for displaying their thought of beauty but rather admired for their beauty.

Rockabilly is a hybrid of both Rock and Hillbilly music from the 1950s. The women in this era represent their own subculture by dressing in fifties clothing and duplicating the Elvis era hairstyles, yet adding an edgy twist consisting of tattoos, unnatural hair colors, and assertive attitude. Although these women have a hardcore interior they still flaunt their femininity by the way they present themselves. I will explore how the pin-up style – tattoos and vintage dress – subvert gender norms, explore taboos, and redefine beauty. According to Hal Negro, “Rockabilly was going to be the next big thing” during the late 1970s (183). Famous women like Bettie Page, Jean Harlow, and Marilyn Monroe were famous pin-up model pioneers who paved the way for models from the punk era to today’s Suicide Girls and pin-up subgroups


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