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Arkansas lawmakers mull proposed ban on some forms of body art

Bill outlawing scarification and dermal implants passes Senate and awaits House vote next

March 14, 2013|by Jonah Kaplan, KSPR News |

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Is there a limit to body art?  The Arkansas Senate says "yes" and has proposed a bill restricting some body modification practices.  That bill is just one House vote away from going to the governor's desk.

The Arkansas legislature wants to restrict the practice called scarification; the proposed bill defines it as purposely cutting your skin for decoration.  The proposal would also outlaw dermal implants - placing an object under the skin that's not ink.

SB 387 considers both dangerous.  People against the ban say lawmakers are just scared.

"Twenty to 30 years ago, tattooing was disgusting and criminal and something people didn't want to associate with," said Misty Forsberg a member of the Arkansas Body Modification Association.  "I think it's the same thing here where people are using their personal opinions to pass law and their moral compass to pass laws."

Not everyone in the body art community feels the same way. Some artists support the ban for safety reasons.

"As far as i'm concerned, we as tattoo artists - we don't have the education to do those things and safely," said Dessa Blackthorn, a tattoo artist in Mountain Home.


Blackthorn is also a licensed nurse.

To read SB 387, visit

The proposed ban on some forms of body modification is one of two bills on body art this session.

A second proposal, SB 388, would for the first time set a minimum age for getting a tattoo in Arkansas at 16 years.

To read SB 388, visit

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