October 14, 2015

Transferable tattoo company bullied into withdrawing part of its collection of designs that celebrate the body's imperfections.

An art student named Lucie Davis worked with Topshop to put out a collection that she said was supposed to "encourage a greater appreciation and personal ownership of ourselves through highlighting imperfections and celebrating difference." The gold-colored tattoos included moles, freckles, and scars.

Somebody named Lucas Shelemy started an on-line petition calling the scars "offensive" and "disgusting." Shelemy says:
"The tagline of the product, of celebrating your 'imperfections' seems distasteful in the case of scars but more worrying still is how the majority of the designs resemble self-harm scars. Topshop should not be normalising self-harm or presenting it as a fashion trend. Not only is the glamorisation of self-injury dangerous for the mainly teenage demographic but harmful for others who have struggled with self-harm and see what for them, is a painful reminder being presented as acceptable – as long as its temporary and elegant."
Somebody wrote at the Topshop website: "I can't believe Topshop are glorifying self-harm scars, whilst not advertised as self-harm scars the scars are placed on the arm in a row which is the stereotypical idea of self-harm, absolutely disgusted."

That was enough. The product was treated as if Davis had intended to celebrate deliberately cutting yourself, a self-hating (or at least self-destructive) impulse, when the idea was to feel happy about the body's imperfections. Talk about destruction: What have the haters created?

My heart goes out to young Lucie Davis. As a person of discontinuous color (freckles), I appreciate her work.


chuck said...

Feeding frenzy! Watching SJWs devour each other is all good fun.

Wince said...

Didn't a bunch of mostly black basketball players wear actual raised burn scars as body art?

Either fraternity symbols and other markings.

Youngblood said...

I think the idea is a good one, but I think presenting self-harm scars with the tagline "flaws worth fighting for" (that's the tagline) is actually really tasteless.

tim in vermont said...

I guess that some of them are very reminiscent of self harm scars, which may indeed be where the idea hatched in the artist's mind.

Remember when we used to be a free country before the puritan SJWs took over?

Bryan C said...

Of course there's a long historical tradition of ritual and ornamental scarification, particularly among African cultures. Why so racist, guys?

Ann Althouse said...

"Remember when we used to be a free country before the puritan SJWs took over?"

I think it's England.

Brian said...

A tattoo is a self-harm scar. I get that these were fake ('transferable') tattoos, but whatever point she's trying to make about 'glorifying self-harm' stands no matter what the fake tattoo looks like.

Sigivald said...

Brian: That assumes the point of a tattoo is to cause harm.

Self-harm means hurting oneself as the goal, not as a side effect of an aesthetic decision.

(Otherwise, "exercise" is "self-harm", since it often makes one sore or causes injuries, no?

Self-harm is definitionally about a very specific damaging intent - one not present in at least the vast majority of tattoos.)

Fred Drinkwater said...

Ms. Davis should just put those "disturbing" tattoos in the back of the shop, in a separate room, like the video rental stores did with pornos, and the tobacco shops did with the head-shop stuff. That way only the adults will see them.

john mosby said...

American Apparel had the right idea. Less clothing = less surface area available for self-harm.


Brian said...


Though I didn't write it out, I am aware of the assumption you identify in my thinking. I happen to think it is true in virtually all cases --- that almost every tattoo is an externalization of a feeling of alienation and pain.

And yes, I think some, perhaps even most, exercise should count as self-harm, too, and have admitted to my friends and family that a desire to externalize psychic pain underpins my own (pretty extreme) fitness regime.

I understand that mine is a minority point of view.

traditionalguy said...

What's the big deal wit certain Tattoos? Aren't all Tattoos ugly defacements of the beautiful men and women.

Jim S. said...

I have a tattoo of a panther scratching my arm with its claws. I got it 25 years ago. It looks like those parallel scratches that are being treated as an encouragement to self harm.

Youngblood said...

Jim S,

Your tattoo is not a line of products intended to call attention to bodily flaws that their owners are proud enough to "fight" for. It's a tattoo of a panther.

Context is everything.

stlcdr said...

They are 'cut here' tats.