Skip to main content

Was the First Tattooed White Woman In America Inked Against Her Will?


Do You Know Her Story?

Today, women of all racial and ethnic backgrounds have tattoos, however, this was not always the case—especially among women of European descent. Although tattooing has been a part of European culture since the times of Ancient Greece, however, it wasn't until the 1920s that white society began seeing tattooed women in the public eye. Long before the burlesque performers of the freak shows and side acts were introduced in the states, a woman by the name of Olive Oatman was regarded as the first tattooed white woman. Although her name may not ring a bell, her haunting stare and bold chin tattoo have left an impression on both historians and Western enthusiasts. Yet, you may be wondering how Oatman got this tattoo in the first place?

During the mid 17th century, tattoos were not yet acceptable in white society but at that time, Oatman was not living the life of a normal 14-year-old Mormon girl. Instead, she was living amongst the Mohave tribe after her family had been killed and captured by a group of Apache Indians. It was with the Mohave that Oatman received her notorious ink and upon her release, many European-Americans believed that Oatman had been given her ink against her will. However, was this really the case? Keep on reading to learn the truth about Olive Oatman, the girl with the blue tattoo.

olive 4