“Feminine” tattoos tend to be defined by certain elements—styles like watercolor, fine line, or minimalist; thin or medium lines; and the images themselves. However, tattoos don’t really have a gender: Anyone can get a “feminine” tattoo. When it comes down to it, it’s all about getting a tattoo that fits your taste and style by working with an artist who can bring those elements to life.
“I think anything can be a 'feminine' tattoo,” says Hayley Richman, a Montréal-based tattoo artist. “Tattoos are so personal and reflective of the person wearing them. To me what makes a tattoo ‘feminine’ is just that the person wearing it feels like it emphasizes their unique expression of femininity.”
And the elements that contribute to the traditionally “feminine” feel of a tattoo aren’t set in stone, either. While some people think heavy blackwork tattoos lack that energy, others welcome the look. In fact, even something as simple as placement could affect the “feminine” energy of the tattoo, as opposed to the design itself.
“Personally, I believe 'feminine' tattoos are defined more so by the canvas rather than the design,” says Kaylee Ruiz, a tattoo artist at The Ink Lab in Queens, New York. “Men commonly get small tattoos in positions that are considered more 'feminine,' like the ankle, ribcage, or behind the ear.”
If you aren’t sure exactly what a “feminine” tattoo looks like, but you know you want your next piece of ink to give off that energy, here are 17 ideas to inspire your next design.
“A lot of the women I tattoo like to showcase the more ‘womanly’ features on their body,” says Richman. That includes high-movement areas like the spine, shown here.
Cursive Phrase Tattoo
Word or phrase tattoos aren’t intrinsically “feminine,” but playing with a cursive font and fine line work will give it that air. Space the letters out both to keep it from crowding and to play up its dainty aura.
Don’t ditch a design you really love because you think it’s not “feminine” enough. This image, though usually done in a thicker, bolder style, benefits nicely from the thinner lines and more subtle detailing.
Thin Line Tattoo
“Fine line tattoos have also become more prevalent nowadays,” says Richman. From an astrological sign to your favorite animal, any tattoo design instantly feels more “feminine” when done in a fine line style.
Although the cherub featured in this piece of ink is male, it still gives off a “feminine” feel. This is achieved with a delicate, line work-only design.
A small design like this butterfly may seem naturally “feminine.” However, that feeling actually comes from the delicate, thin lines and the gorgeous floral element.
Anatomically Correct Heart
Anatomically correct or realistic designs tend to have a reputation for being more “masculine.” Adding traditionally “feminine” elements like flowers or keeping the lines clean and simple can help to tip the scales.
Vibrant Floral Tattoo
“Floral pieces are considered feminine, [but] this is a recent tattoo I did on a male,” says Ruiz. The coloring and spacing keep the piece feeling delicate and "feminine."
Bold Font Tattoo
If you want to go with a word or phrase tattoo, don’t feel like you have to opt for fine line or cursive to get the “feminine” feel. Bolder fonts or thicker writing can be just as “feminine” thanks to placement or the spacing of the letters—it’s all in the details.
"Feminine" Symbol Tattoo
For a tattoo that is intrinsically “feminine,” stick to symbols that often represent womanhood, like roses or a crescent moon. Don’t feel like you have to be minimal, either—add as many elements or as much detail work as you'd like to create your ideal ink.
“Bigger and bolder tattoos are traditionally considered more masculine,” says Ruiz, “but... I've done [some] in the past that have a delicate look to them.” To balance out the bold look, follow Ruiz’s advice and stick to delicate details.
“Bold-lined traditional tattoos were some of the first that made it into mainstream culture and were mainly seen on men at first, which I think is why some people think they are more ‘masculine,’” says Richman. “But I've seen very feminine people with bold tattoos!”
Don’t shy away from heavy blackwork in your design. Instead, use it in a way that highlights the design—as seen in this ankh tattoo—to create a more lightweight-feeling piece of ink.
“There is a common idea that smaller, more petite tattoos are ‘feminine,’ but that couldn’t be further from the truth,” says Ruiz. Tattoos like this lion design still give a “feminine” vibe, despite having many elements and being quite large.
“Masculine” designs like snakes or heavy blackwork don’t need to be avoided for a “feminine” tattoo. Instead, try adding elements to play it up, like these florals.
Some placements, like along the thigh as seen here, seem to be more popular with women getting tattooed, which gives them a “feminine” reputation. “I suppose the most common areas I get requested by women are on the wrist, ribcage, sternum, spine, tricep, hip, and top of the forearm,” says Ruiz.
“I think society is only recently getting used to the idea of a heavily tattooed woman,” says Richman. While dark or bold tattoos have the reputation of being “masculine,” the increase in women getting them is slowly reshaping their vibe.
No matter who you are or what design you’re going for, Ruiz says don’t shy away from it because you don’t think it’s “feminine” enough.
“Every individual has the right to express themselves with their tattoos,” says Ruiz. “We shouldn't pigeonhole certain designs for certain genders. I encourage everyone to be as big and as bold as they see fit, regardless of their gender.”