Holly Roettger-Duncan proudly displays her tattoos, but she says not everyone appreciates them and too often people make assumptions about her because of them.
In an effort to change the general public's perception of tattooed women, the Kennewick woman organized the group Modified Dolls, whose motto is, "The Different Making a Difference."
Roettger-Duncan, 28, takes the motto seriously -- in her job as a nurse, her role as a mother of five and also as part of the Dolls.
"My purpose in life is to help people and that is why I'm a nurse," she said. "I figured a group of modified women doing charity work could not only bring awareness to the fact that modifying your body does not mean you have a modified heart, but also we could do some good in the world."
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The Modified Dolls choose a different charity each month, then hold fundraisers with all the proceeds going directly to that charity, Roettger-Duncan said.
This month's charity project is the Zombie Walk for Brain Cancer on Friday in Richland.
The walk is from 3 to 6 p.m., and features zombielike creatures walking from John Dam Plaza, through the Parkade, across George Washington Way, then down to the community center where dancers will perform Michael Jackson's Thriller.
Anyone can take part, and there will be makeup artists and hair stylists available earlier in the day to help participants get zombiefied. The makeup sessions are from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Strange Independence, an alternative hair salon at Columbia Center mall.
There are no set fees for the makeup and hair styling but donations are requested with all proceeds going toward brain cancer research, Roettger-Duncan said.
The Modified Dolls' membership includes about 200 women with multiple tattoos or piercings from 25 states and six countries.
"The negative stereotype associated with being heavily modified is widespread and couldn't be more wrong," said Roettger-Duncan. "I'm a mommy and a nurse, and I'm heavily tattooed. When I go to work each day, I have to wear long sleeved shirts under my scrubs."
Roettger-Duncan, who is married with five children, is a triage nurse for Columbia Basin Hematology and Oncology who also helps administer chemotherapy to cancer patients.
Despite her medical credentials, the tattoo art she proudly wears can make life a bit troublesome sometimes. She said she was reprimanded at a job once because her tattoos were showing.
"When I go to PTA meetings, I get dirty looks from other moms, and when my husband and I walk down the street, little old ladies cross the street out of fear. Little do they know I could be the chemo nurse who saved their (loved ones) lives," she said.
Laura Beeman, 26, is another Modified Doll who makes no apologies for her skin art. She grew up in Sunnyside but now lives in Anchorage. She acts as the Modified Dolls' public relations director and hopes to study culinary arts in the near future.
"We are working toward ending the negative sterotypes associated with being a modified woman," Beeman said of the Dolls. "I'm actually one of the less modified girls in our group. I have a full sleeve tattoo in progress, and I only have my ears pierced because piercings just aren't for me."
Beeman said the negativity surrounding skin art doesn't faze her much because she is comfortable with who she is.
"I've been getting dirty looks and rude comments for being weird my whole life, so by the time I started getting tattoos I was pretty used to being stared at," she said. "The only person who needs to be happy with my body is me. It took me a long time to realize that."
Roettger-Duncan said having one small tattoo and an eyebrow ring can evoke disapproval.
"I have always been aware of the stigma associated with body modifications," she said. "The tramp stamp on a woman or a small tattoo on a man's bicep are accepted because they're easily covered, but it's still quite obvious tattoos are taboo."