Last Updated 07 Jul 2020

Skin & Tattoos Review

Category Gender, Metaphor, Tattoos
Essay type Review
Words 911 (3 pages)
Views 455

Patterson, M. , & Schroeder, J. (2010). Borderlines: Skin, tattoos and consumer culture theory. Marketing Theory, 10, 253-267. DOI: 10. 1177/1470593110373191 Assignment 1: Patterson & Schroeder Article Review This essay critically reviews an academic article which applies consumer culture theory to identity formation by illustrating the association of skin and body art to femininity and commodification. The paper begins with a brief summary of the key points outlined in the article which is then followed by an analytical evaluation of these points.

After which I will examine why I believe they were able to make a compelling argument. I then go on to critique the style of the article and discuss some of the weaknesses I found in the argument presented by the authors. I end with a suggested issue for further research. The authors of this article intend to examine the establishment of identity, both generally and embodied, within the consumer culture theoretical framework. In order to do so they describe three fundamental assertions which have been derived from consumer culture theory (CCT) and employ three metaphors to illustrate how these concepts prove to be problematic.

They further develop evidence which challenges the proposed concepts by applying them to skin, and more specifically to the skin of heavily tattooed women. It is their assertion that skin serves as the principal site for individuals to imprint their ideologies and convey their stories, it brings together the natural and the social. The concept of femininity and cultural ideas of beauty also become intertwined in the conjectural work put forth by the authors.

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In their attempt to show a correlation between skin, identity, and consumption, the idea that heavily tattooed women collect body art in order to distinguish themselves from the masses and challenge existing gender stereotypes forms the foundation from which they argue. According to the article an individual’s production of self is mediated by interaction with others in addition to a calculated use of commodities. However, they claim that interpretation of one’s identity is not always clear or easily discerned and further that access to the resources we use to create our identity is not equal amongst all individuals.

The following relationships between skin, femininity and consumption form the structure from which they develop their assumptions: first, the containing function of skin is central to creation of femininity as ideals of the perfect body remain; second, femininity is implicit on skin so much so that transmission becomes an issue of surface projection; and third, well maintained, delicate skin has become an archetype of femininity and a desire to retain this indicator of gender difference leads women to want to work on their skin.

The ambiguousness of such an overlooked and yet important organ enables the reader to relate to a vast number of viewpoints. Based on the evidence presented, I find the authors’ argument convincing and can appreciate why skin makes an ideal medium for research on consumer identity. What I took from the article was that beauty and identity are often interdependent and rely on how one interprets and creates it. I arrived at this conclusion by following their logic that skin is connected to our identity in how we adorn and maintain it.

The closer we come to upholding social norms regarding femininity, which is often closely tied to ideals of beauty, the more highly we are regarded in society. We use our exterior surface as a canvas in which we create our inner identity, however, identity is not static and we are continually modifying and recreating ourselves. I like the idea that women are silently protesting and disrupting long held patriarchal beliefs of femininity by engaging in body art acquisition.

I also agree that by partaking in forms of body modification, such as tattooing, women challenge the traditional ideals of beauty. While the article is written concisely and straightforwardly, I believe the metaphors they use could have been explained further in order to get a clearer understanding of their association to the topic at hand. I found the idea of skin as a container difficult to follow, the arguments presented in this section taken individually were clear, but when related back to identity and commodification it became someone convoluted.

One aspect I believe the authors neglected to develop was the notion that individuals can assume simultaneous identities or that they can perform identities, whereby they represent themselves different from their visible characteristics. They touched on this with the discussion of tattooed women being both contained and transgressive in the narrow perception of beauty, along with the view of the mind/body dualism.

I found the overall concept explored in this article quite interesting, but thought the execution left something lacking. At times the article almost seems somewhat philosophical in its assessment of the topic in that it relies largely on interpretive research. Identities are seen not as merely represented in discourse, but rather as performed, enacted and embodied through a variety of dialectal and non-linguistic means.

After introducing the topic at hand and reviewing the relevant concepts that have been ascertained in regards to the conceptualization of identity within the framework of consumer culture theory, and more specifically, identity as it applies to skin, femininity and body art, the article concludes with a suggested direction for further study. The authors propose that more work on boundaries and understanding of identity and consumption should be done. In addition, they advise rather than looking at the meaning of the body, future examination should analyze what the consequences of consuming the body are.

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Cite this page

Skin & Tattoos Review. (2018, Oct 18). Retrieved from

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