The Cupcake Tramp Stamp

A fat girl’s mission to reclaim the clichéd lower-back tattoo has one hang-up: where to find a cupcake worthy of tramp stamp status?


| Summer 2014



The cupcake tramp stamp

"I have lots of tattoos, but my fat-girl tramp stamp was eluding me. It had to be perfect."

Illustration by Fotolia/Mari79

I always loved a tattoo on the lower back. The way it curved across the edge of hips, peeking out from beneath a too-tight t-shirt or brazen along the edge of a bikini bottom. It seemed like every time I saw one, it was whimsical—a fairy or a collection of stars twinkling, butterflies or flowers, occasionally a tribal design. I thought they were sexy. I kind of wanted one. Then, I started hearing this phrase, “tramp stamp.” What did it mean?

Those tattoos I loved across the lower back—perfectly hidden from parents until a trip to the beach—those were considered slutty, a sign of promiscuity and a need to be desired. And, clearly, based on the way the phrase was tossed around, it wasn’t OK to have one—a tramp stamp.

And that, well, it pissed me off. Yeah, I thought, whenever women start to feel a little power, connection even, let’s knock ‘em down. So what if fairies and butterflies and flowers were cliché? Who cares if the tats peeked out when women bent over at the bar on Friday night? But just as I began to get all militant about the rights of women to bare the tramp stamp, and who gives a shit if someone’s a “tramp” anyway, I realized something else: The tramp stamp was for skinny women. Whole websites sprung up to post pictures of fat asses, and berating tramp stamps on fat sluts was part of it. Your fairy would not look good if she was stretched with girth. Flowers would span an ass crack and look more like a blob of color. Tribal tattoos looked good encircling muscle or bone, not stretch marks. Tramp stamps were bad, but a tramp stamp on a fat girl was far worse.

That’s when I got my idea. I would get a tramp stamp. Not a fairy or a butterfly, not a rose garden across the top of my ass. No, I would get a big, fat, pink encased, cherry-on-top cupcake; a fat girl’s tramp stamp.

I started looking for pictures of cupcakes. I was obsessed. One was too cartoon-like, another too fluffy-looking, a third just not pink enough. I googled cupcake pictures all day long. I saw cupcakes with sprinkles, with swirled frosting, with no frosting, with hearts in the frosting, stars sprinkled around the edges, with sayings (“life is sweet”), with names for kids and even one with a unicorn standing nearby. I loved them all. And I just couldn’t decide. I have lots of tattoos, but my fat girl tramp stamp was eluding me, it seemed like it mattered so much. I would be challenging not only fat phobia, but slut-shaming, too. It had to be perfect.