Women heal scars with tattoos


Breaking barriers: Ngoc tattooing a female customer at her studio in Hanoi. — AFP

In her tiny Hanoi apartment, tattoo artist Ngoc inks middle-aged women whose lives have been upended by divorce or illness, each of them searching for healing through an art form that is still largely taboo in Vietnam.

Although attitudes are changing, tattoos remain associated with gangsters, prostitution and the criminal underground in the communist, broadly conservative country.

“I met many women who told me they loved tattoos but they were born at a time when no-one supported them, ” said Ngoc, who goes by the name “Ngoc Like”.

But some are choosing to push back against those old ideas, seeing body art as emancipation from some of the rigid societal norms they have lived by.

Getting inked is often a landmark moment in these women’s lives, Ngoc, 28, says.

“They have overcome that fear of social prejudice and have a personal wish to renew themselves... to open a new chapter in life.”

Ngoc designing a tattoo over a customer’s scar.Ngoc designing a tattoo over a customer’s scar.

Educated and business-savvy, Ngoc was ridiculed when she started out as a tattoo artist less than a decade ago – with many assuming she did not go into the industry out of choice.

But she has since built up a solid, mostly female clientele.

“Being a tattoo artist, I have had to accept the fact that people dismiss my skill, my studies, my personality... They say: ‘You do this because you did not get good grades’.”

Just 4% of Vietnamese have tattoos, according to a small survey in 2015 by Vietnam market research firm Q&Me, the most recent data available. It also suggested that 25% of people “feel scared” when seeing body art.

But for Tran Ha Nguyen, a high school teacher, getting a tattoo was an act of celebration following a divorce from her “conservative and rigid” husband.

“My ex strongly opposed any tattoo on my body, ” she recalled.

After the separation, the 41-year-old said she wanted a clean break from her old self and to do things she would never have dared do in her previous life.

Also recovering from trauma, 46-year-old Nguyen Hong Thai chose a rose tattoo over a scar on her stomach, and the words “forever in my heart” on her arm, months after her husband died of lung cancer.

He had always wanted her to get inked.

“Now he’s gone, I think he would have wanted me to be strong, to be the person I had always been with him. The tattoos have given me strength and confidence (to do that)”, said Thai, with a huge smile. — AFP

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 46
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3

art , tattoos , body art , Ngoc

   

Next In Aseanplus News

Asean News Headlines as at 8pm on Saturday (May 15)
Singapore confirms 31 new Covid-19 cases, 19 in the community; 271 imported Covid-19 cases from South Asia in past 28 days
Indonesia daily Covid-19 case loads getting lesser as thousands swarm tourists destinations in Jakarta during Hari Raya Festival
Vietnam records first Covid-19 death, highest community transmissions
Philippines logs 6,739 new Covid-19 cases, death toll crosses 19,000 as more variant cases are reported
Thailand reports 3000-plus new Covid19 cases, 17 more deaths as total tally nears 100,000
Vietnam April trade deficit US$$1.2bil vs US$1.2bil in surplus in March; coffee exports down 22.1%
Philippine Air mulling Chapter 11, in talks to reduce its fleet
Singapore: Parents cannot enter pre-school premises, field trips suspended under tightened Covid-19 rules
Thailand reiterates it will provide humanitarian aid to people fleeing Myanmar and not push them back

Stories You'll Enjoy


Vouchers