Veils, Nudity, and Tattoos: The New Feminine Aesthetics

Veils, Nudity, and Tattoos: The New Feminine Aesthetics

Thorsten Botz-Bornstein

Language: English

Pages: 212

ISBN: 1498500463

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


At first sight, tattoos, nudity, and veils do not seem to have much in common except for the fact that all three have become more frequent, more visible, and more dominant in connection with aesthetic presentations of women over the past thirty years. No longer restricted to biker and sailor culture, tattoos have been sanctioned by the mainstream of liberal societies. Nudity has become more visible than ever on European beaches or on the internet. The increased use of the veil by women in Muslim and non-Muslim countries has developed in parallel with the aforementioned phenomena and is just as striking.
Through the means of conceptual analysis,
Veils, Nudity, and Tattoos: The New Feminine Aesthetics reveals that these three phenomena can be both private and public, humiliating and empowering, and backward and progressive. This unorthodox approach is traced by the three’s similar social and psychological patterns, and by doing so, Veils, Nudity, and Tattoos hopes to sketch the image of a woman who is not only sexually emancipated and confident, but also more and more aware of her cultural heritage.

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square bodice tailored from the veil’s crocheted eyepiece and cap” (Heath 2008: 11). Most often, attempts to redefine the veil at least partly as a fashion item have been made in the context of studies of overseas Muslim communities. Here Rhys Williams and Gira Vashi find that “wearing hijab has a fashion dynamic that cannot be fully accounted for by religious motivations or social, ethnic, or class backgrounds” (2007: 284). In general, “hijab fashion” follows certain trends and might even

values are constantly mixed and any attempt to disentangle them can too easily be foiled by the bias of the observer. The question “Can the veil be cool?” encourages debate on the kind of values “cool” is supposed to incorporate. Condemnations of the veil because it “limits women’s capacity for self-determination in their bodies as part of their human development” and are thus “detrimental to women’s advancement” (Lazreg 2009: 10) are as unhelpful as the lauding of the veil as a catalyzer of

be highlighted that each item—the tattoo, nudity, and the veil—is involved in its own complex historical, psychological, religious, and sexual network. This makes any evaluation of common points a difficult undertaking. Still, there must be a reason why all three emerge simultaneously today, relatively unexpectedly and on such a large scale. So far, in this chapter, I have mainly established parallels between two of the three items. Now it will be necessary to submit a list of what all three have

for nudity and tattoos, which can both elevate and humiliate women: “Early efforts to keep women away from tattoos—and then perversely to draw women in—both involved degradation of the female body as a desirable object and desiring subject” (Braunberger 2000: 4). Of course, everything depends on whether the tattoo, the nudity, or the veil has been chosen voluntarily or whether it has been forced upon the woman. It has been said above that it is difficult to establish whether the veil has been

impossible is only embarrassing nakedness that needs to be covered—with tattoos. As paradoxical as it sounds, tattoos are helpful in such a situation: a tattooed body is never entirely naked. Consequently, it will also always be closer to civilization. Of course all this is entirely contrary to what has been thought about tattoos, nakedness, and civilization by Western culture from Rousseau to classical German nudism. For them, any sign covering the skin was uncivilized because it was unnatural.

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