People have used symbols to designate their status as members of particular groups, societies or gangs for centuries. Many times, visual badges of belonging are most often in the form of a tattoo. In fact, the resurgence of tribal art and tattooing in the last decade stems from ancient Polynesian and Asian tribal designs declaring group belonging or social status among their particular tribe. Unlike the large tattoos of these ancient warriors, the bond of deep friendship is invisible, but perhaps one of the strongest forms of support and belonging – particularly among women. As these female relationships progress, “sisterhoods” begin to emerge and some women choose to express their commitments through sisterhood tattoos, many times sharing the experience by getting them at the same time. Whether small and personal (i.e. best friends) or large and public (i.e. gangs), sisterhood tattoos say “I belong.”
Formal Society Sisterhood Tattoos
For many female groups, their sisterhood tattoos are “coat of arms” designs – specific images, usually 2 or 3, that are incorporated into a design representing the group’s beliefs). Other designs use Greek lettering to identify groups, such as sorority sisterhood tattoos associated with the college experience. Sorority names, such as Alpha Chi Omega or Gamma Phi Beta, each have corresponding Greek letters that are representative of its group and unify its members.
Exclusively female motorcycle groups normally have a logo or symbol representing their group name, beliefs and love for riding. Dubbed as “biker chicks,” these women develop strong and long-lasting sisterhoods with the other members of their group, proudly displaying their logo on their jackets or on their skin.
Female gangs from the fifties and sixties, like Foxfire, from the book Foxfire by Joyce Carol Oates, and the infamous Pink Ladies from Grease, shared deep bonds and common goals. Today, there are many “girl gangs” throughout the US and the world that have been brought together by race, religion and/or creed. Most likely these sisterhoods each have their own unique logos and tattoos, however, there are some sisterhood tattoos that cross all gang boundaries: teardrop tattoos. Inked under the outer corner of the eye, the teardrop is a symbol of grief over a “sister’s” death.
Sisterhood Tattoos for Friends
The Claddagh is a beloved symbol (found most often in the form of a ring) from Ireland that is popular in the United States. This symbol is a crowned heart held by a pair of hands signifying love, loyalty and friendship. It is a great choice for sisterhood tattoos shared among best friends. Matching Celtic knots, Japanese characters, and symbols of duality (like the Yin Yang) are also excellent design choices for friends interested in displaying their close bond.