Hanoi 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 womens 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.
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.'
Tattoo artist Ngoc Like at her studio in Hanoi | AFP-JIJI
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. I on the other hand had been afraid I would lose my job if I had something visible.
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.
She chose a daisy design for her thigh, high enough that no-one can see it unless she is in a bikini.
Its just one small tattoo but I feel I have found my true self, Nguyen said.
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 hes 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.
Just 4% of Vietnamese have tattoos, according to a small survey in 2015 by Vietnam market research firm Q&Me. | AFP-JIJI
Ngoc has decided to focus her tattooing work on women with scars, both physical and mental.
Demand is growing her schedule is completely full, she says.
Her clients in Hanoi, where average monthly income per capita is less than $500, are often willing to spend double that amount on their body art.
One of them, 33-year-old office worker Huong not her real name has felt ashamed of her body since appendicitis surgery 14 years ago left her with an ugly vertical scar.
I considered going to a clinic to see if they could get rid of the scar.
But then I thought: why cant I have a tattoo to hide it?
Her eyes shut tight in anxiety, Huong lies on the chair, waiting for the needle to begin its march across her midriff.
This is not just about beautification The beauty here is giving a woman the chance to be herself, Ngoc says.
Hours later, looking in the mirror at a string of pink flowers across her stomach, a grin breaks out over Huongs face.
I was afraid if (my family) saw this big tattoo, they would think I was a party woman.
But the most important thing is I live for myself. If I can lose the shame around my scar, life gets more interesting.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.
PHOTO GALLERY (CLICK TO ENLARGE)
Read the rest here:
- Why is this Fayetteville tattoo artist getting so much attention on TikTok? - The Fayetteville Observer - May 4th, 2021
- Gypsy Carver Brings Ideas to Life - Thelaker - May 4th, 2021
- Madonna Just Got a Red X Inked on Her Arm and She Drank Wine to Numb the Pain - Us Weekly - May 4th, 2021
- Danny Trejo Reveals the Artist Behind His Iconic Chest Tattoo Actually Hated It (Exclusive) - Showbiz Cheat Sheet - May 4th, 2021
- Senior brings passion for art and tattoos to the campus community - The Hawk - May 4th, 2021
- Tattoo artist finds Robin Hoods Silver Arrow while magnet fishing in Sherwood Forest... - The Sun - May 4th, 2021
- Tattoo Peeling: What's Normal and How to Care for It in 2021 - Cosmopolitan - May 4th, 2021
- LeBron James gets tattoo of 'the big 3' with Lakers return near - New York Post - May 4th, 2021
- 6 Fresh Nail Art Ideas From Around the World - Allure - May 4th, 2021
- Mothers Day Gift ideas with Jeremiah David Stroup - KOIN.com - May 4th, 2021
- Madonna Shows Off Results Of Second Ever Tattoo After Getting Inked On Instagram - HuffPost UK - May 4th, 2021
- This First-of-Its-Kind Temporary Tattoo Ink is Made to Fade - Freethink - April 19th, 2021
- Tattoo artist accused of spray painting businesses acquitted - KVRR - April 19th, 2021
- Anthony Audy, Vermont Tattoo Artist With Whimsical Style, Dies at 44 - The New York Times - April 19th, 2021
- Move over Kim K, SA tattoo artist Lew Williams is a global reality show star with stigmas to break - TimesLIVE - April 19th, 2021
- Donna Lombardi Of Black Ink Crew Talks Pausing On Tattooing, Being A Businesswoman And More - MadameNoire - April 19th, 2021
- Meet the tattoo artist who helps Vietnamese women healing from physical and emotional trauma - South China Morning Post - April 19th, 2021
- Things to Do Denver: Art Gallery Openings and Exhibits April 16 to 21, 2021 - Westword - April 19th, 2021
- No regrets? I tried the first ever made to fade tattoo - Dazed - April 19th, 2021
- Tattoo Aftercare Products Market Is Rising With COVID-19 Impact Analysis, Development, Forecast To 2021-2027 The Courier - The Courier - April 19th, 2021
- See how tattoo artwork has modified because the 18th century - The Shepherd of the Hills Gazette - April 4th, 2021
- See how tattoo art has changed since the 18th century - CNN - April 4th, 2021
- The human canvas: Young tattoo artist draws inspiration from the past: 'attack your dreams' - Pilot Tribune - April 4th, 2021
- 5 Best Tattoo Artists in Indianapolis - Kev's Best - April 4th, 2021
- 'Don't you have enough yet?': Justin Bieber's mom reacts to 'Peaches' singer's new neck tattoo - USA TODAY - April 4th, 2021
- Electric Tattoo: Love of art and 'forbidden fruit' drives Asbury Park studio - Asbury Park Press - April 4th, 2021
- 'Almost like a tsunami': How Wilmington tattoo shops are thriving during the pandemic - StarNewsOnline.com - April 4th, 2021
- ONE YEAR GONE | Welch is back in business at Town's End Tattoo - Port Townsend Leader - April 4th, 2021
- Blazing Trails: Women Who Left Their Marks on the Art World - Cheddar - April 4th, 2021
- 33 Celebrities Who Regret Their Tattoos - Women's Health - April 4th, 2021
- Screen Time at the Worlds First Physical NFT Gallery, Whatever That Means - Vulture - April 4th, 2021
- Martin County resident and pet tree frog garner national attention as the 2021 Cadbury Easter Bunny - TCPalm - April 4th, 2021
- Tattoo fan spends 8k on ink and body mods including eyeballs and split tongue - Daily Star - April 4th, 2021
- Get Inked At 12 Of Auckland's Best Tattoo Studios | Urban List NZ - The Urban List - April 4th, 2021
- A Guide to All of Drake's 35 Tattoos and Their Meanings - menshealth.com - March 8th, 2021
- Tattoo artist restores Stations of the Cross in Belarus - Catholic News Agency - March 8th, 2021
- Jason Terry shares how he got the Larry O'Brien trophy tattoo - Basketball Network - March 8th, 2021
- How Alisha Gory Moved to the US On Her Own and Established Herself as a Famous Tattoo Artist - Daily Front Row - March 8th, 2021
- Who is Elle Kings husband? Know everything about the tattoo artist - Republic TV - March 8th, 2021
- Local Tattoo shop is seeing business boom amid the pandemic - WTHITV.com - March 8th, 2021
- Shogun's Joy of Torture not for Weak Hearts - Critical Blast - March 8th, 2021
- These Miley Cyrus Tattoos Are Dedicated to Her Exes - Showbiz Cheat Sheet - March 8th, 2021
- A Film That Tests Assumptions About Race, Rape, and Power - Hyperallergic - March 8th, 2021
- You Need to See Whitney Cummings' Tattoo Tribute to Jennifer Aniston - E! NEWS - March 8th, 2021
- 5 Best Tattoo Artists in Houston - Kev's Best - February 19th, 2021
- Ink Evolution - Flathead Beacon - February 19th, 2021
- It doesnt get easier with time: Smiths continue to move forward while honoring loved ones - Fox17 - February 19th, 2021
- Arteta refuses to confirm whether Aubameyang broke rules by getting tattoo - BT Sport - February 19th, 2021
- Irish tattoo artist recalls the day Britney Spears came to Bray - Newstalk - February 19th, 2021
- Did you know entrepreneur Naman Arora is a top-notch tattoo artist? Read to know more about the creative genius! - News Track English - February 19th, 2021
- 3 Men Shared the Stories Behind the Epic Tattoos They Got to Cover Their Scars - menshealth.com - February 19th, 2021
- Want to get a finger tattoo? Here's what to keep in mind before taking the plunge - VOGUE India - February 17th, 2021
- Arsenal investigate Aubameyang over reported COVID-19 tattoo breach - ESPN - February 17th, 2021
- Tributes paid in memory of talented Blood Rush tattoo artist - Leighton Buzzard Observer - February 17th, 2021
- Artist and Influencer Mikey B Made It is legally trappin art from the hood to Hollywood - Press Release - Digital Journal - February 17th, 2021
- Charlie Cartwright: The Godfather of Black-and-Grey Fine Line Tattooing - Scene 360 - February 17th, 2021
- Exploring the process of becoming a tattoo artist - Argonaut - February 14th, 2021
- Tattoo Artists Share the Tattoo Ideas So Bad They Actually Refused to Do Them - menshealth.com - February 14th, 2021
- Tattoo artists reveal the one inking theyve been asked to do but had to refuse - Daily Star - February 11th, 2021
- Show what you love: Manchester resident Lizzie Wright in the running to be Inked magazines next cover girl - Baltimore Sun - February 11th, 2021
- Tattoo artists reveal the one tattoo they have had to refuse to do - Buzz.ie - February 11th, 2021
- These Tattoo Artists Shared the Worst Mistakes Theyve Ever Made - menshealth.com - February 11th, 2021
- Feel the Bern: Warm up with the top 10 Bernie Sanders memes The Rocky Mountain Collegian - Rocky Mountain Collegian - February 11th, 2021
- Tattoo artists reveal their worst mistakes ever and how the clients reacted - Daily Star - February 11th, 2021
- Tattoo Artists Shared the Tattoos They Love Doing the Most - Yahoo Lifestyle - February 10th, 2021
- Halsey Doesn't Want To Go 'Overboard' On Pregnancy Cravings - OK! - February 10th, 2021
- Becky G Just Got 2 New Tattoos in One Day, and I Thought I Had a High Pain Threshold - POPSUGAR - February 10th, 2021
- Tattoo Artists Shared the Best Tattoos They'll Never Get Tired of Doing - menshealth.com - February 10th, 2021
- Nine things tattoo artists hate clients doing when they get inked - Daily Star - February 10th, 2021
- Tattoo Artists Shared the Tattoos They're Most Sick of Seeing - menshealth.com - February 7th, 2021
- Student, 23, who cant tell her left from right gets L and R TATTOOED on her hands as a permanent reminder - The Irish Sun - February 7th, 2021
- 'Basic' tattoos artists secretly hate doing - and the ones they'll refuse to give - Cambridgeshire Live - February 6th, 2021
- With Pastel Devil Studio, these artists are reimagining today's tattoo parlor - St. Louis Magazine - February 6th, 2021
- Marijuana law reform in Japan contingent on the message - The Japan Times - February 6th, 2021
- Bricks placed in Southern Indiana remember those who have died from drug overdose - WHAS11.com - February 6th, 2021
- Vans Tapped 4 Artists to Design Shoes For Black History Month, and We Talked to Them All - POPSUGAR - February 6th, 2021
- 20 Interesting Facts About the South Korean Boy Band BTS - Music in Minnesota - Music in Minnesota - February 6th, 2021
- 10 Celebs Who Have Face Tattoos | TheThings - TheThings - February 6th, 2021
- Walter Suza: A city along the Mississippi seeks to defeat hate - Ames Tribune - February 6th, 2021
- If Norman Rockwell were alive today: North Jersey photo exhibit updates iconic artists works - NJ.com - February 4th, 2021