Bow Tattoos for Women: Symbolism and Meaning

Have you ever received a gift tied up with a bow? It’s often a surprise and the bow has become a symbol of gifts and presents. These days, there are also lots of women who are having bows tattooed on their thighs and other parts of their body. But what does the bow mean in this context?

Story of Emancipation

The bow tattoo is typically worn only by women. That’s not to say that a man couldn’t wear it, but in most cases the tied up bow has special meaning for women.

It might be difficult to imagine now, but there was once a time not too long ago when women were not even allowed to vote.

Before the suffragette movement, women around the country were expected to fulfill their limited roles while men engaged with public and political life. That all changed with the suffragettes and the feminist movement.

Of course, we’re still some way from full equality between men and women, but the truth is that things have really come a long way. For some women, a bow tattoo is symbolic of their struggle for liberation.

Consider how you tie up a bow on a gift. You put tension on the ribbon and tie the knot, and then you release the bow. This tension and release is seen as symbolic of women’s liberation.

This is partly why the bow tattoo is often seen as a symbol just for women, though some men may like to express their affiliation with feminism and women’s rights too.

Female Empowerment

There’s something of an irony going on with the bow as a symbol of women’s liberation. There was a time when a lot of female clothing was fastened with bows.

Just think about the lace up corsets from the 19th century, for example. For some women, the bow tattoo symbolizes their distinct femininity in a very old-school way.

On the one hand, the bow represents women’s liberation from oppression, but on the other hand, it harks back to a time when women were tied up in tight dresses that were prescribed by men as a marker of their strict gender role. It seems, there’s something of a disconnect going on here!

In this sense, a pair of bow tattoos on a woman’s thighs can certainly mean that they consider themselves feminine. It means that they think of themselves as fulfilling some old gender role that doesn’t necessarily conform to the more fluid gender roles of the modern day.

While it may seem strange for the bow to symbolize what appear to be two opposing things, there’s a silver lining. When women claim an identity for themselves, they also empower themselves.

They liberate themselves from some strict view of who they are, even if it means that they are choosing to use a bow to represent a more traditional view of what a woman should be.

In this context, the bow really does represent a woman’s right to choose who they are, whether that is a liberated and strong woman, or a so-called “girly girl” who identifies more strongly with a rigid female stereotype.

Gift to the World

Tying it all together (pun intended) is that the bow also symbolizes that a woman is a gift to the world, no matter what her view of herself is. She is strong, attractive, and of worth and value.

When a woman wears a bow in this context, she is expressing who she thinks she is and what she can give to the world.

This sort of bow looks great when tattooed around the wrist. Many women choose an intricate design and may often have the ribbon colored as well. In this context, the bow means not just a gift to the world, but that the woman has some mystery about her, just like a gift.

Woman’s Sexuality

It’s not uncommon for a bow to be placed on either the back or front of the thighs – one on each leg. In this configuration, the bow is more strongly associated with female sexuality and sexual power. The garter, long seen as representative of female sexuality, is sometimes also a part of the bow design.

The bow in this position is in an erogenous area and represents her sex appeal and her view of her own sexuality and feminine power. Women who favor this style of bow tattoo often want to express a wilder or riskier side to their personalities.

Does the Bow Material Matter?

Of course, there are a lot of different bows and bow designs. Those who want to express a traditionally feminine personality may favor a ribbon that is slender, silky, colored, and curled in intricate fashion.

While those who have a tougher and stronger personality may choose a broad leathery look for the bow instead.

Should You Get a Bow Tattoo?

The bow is almost exclusively a female motif and is most often worn by women. While it does symbolize a woman’s liberation, it also has a strong association with more traditional gender roles.

This dual meaning is appealing to many women because it allows them to feel as though they have their own symbol and that they are free to choose who they want to be.

The bow also has a strong sexual meaning, especially when placed on the front or back of the thighs. While this is appealing for those women who want to express a wilder side to themselves, it’s not for all women. In these cases, a bow tattoo around the wrist may be more appropriate.


One of the great things about the bow tattoo design is that it is a symbol for women. So many tattoo designs are worn by both men and women, but the bow has very strong associations with female sexuality, female empowerment to choose an identity, and women’s liberation.

The bow also lends itself to a wide variety of attractive designs and placements. It can be silky and curly, decorated with gems and other motifs, or broad and strong.

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