A Hamilton native is competing for top honors in Inked Magazine’s Cover Girl contest and its prize of $25,000.
Ashley Rouse, who now lives in Indiana, said she heard about the Inked contest from relatives.
“My initial thought was ‘There is no way. I’m not a model,’” she said. “But then, after a little confidence boosting from my mother, I was like, ‘You know what, what’s there to lose?’”
She was one of 2,000 women whom Inked Magazine tapped for the competition, which is down to 400 women and will continue to be whittled down by the hundreds until it wraps up in early April.
The most recent round of voting ends today at cover.inkedmag.com/2020/ashley-rouse. Votes may be cast for free once daily within a 24-hour period, or more often for a $1 donation to MusicCares, nonprofit organization to help artists in need.
Rouse, formerly Ashley Fox, got her first tattoo — a lower back spine tattoo of a tribal moon and stars in a circle — when she was 17. Now a 37-year-old wife and mother of four, she has five tattoos, plus a full sleeve of a theme of “everything that makes up who I am.”
Her most recent tattoo is on her collar bone and is one she got in January while honeymooning in Colorado with her husband. It depicts a mountain scene with two paths leading up the mountain into one path with a cross at the top.
“It’s kind of our love story in summary,” she said. “It also (quotes) Matthew 19:6, which says “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
Rouse said she is a “a woman of faith” who often felt judged because of her tattoos and neglected going to church.
“A person had once complimented my sleeve then said, ‘You know, you’re going to hell because of those,’ so it deterred me from something I really wanted to do,” she said. “But then, I met my husband, who is a man of God also, and led me back to church! Now I’m one of two tattooed ladies at our church and I am accepted.”
She created her profile from everyday-life photos and the tagline “Vote for the middle aged tattooed, gun-toting, God loving, all American woman! (Oh, and a wife and mother to 4 kids!) #VoteForTheMiniVanMom.”
The contest started on Feb. 12. Rouse made it past the first round and is now in the top 20.
“A lot of these women are models, with crazy followings, and very revealing photos, so it’s really up to my community and support system to continue pushing me forward, as this contest is a public voting contest,” she said. “I went out on a whim, but now I am pushing hard to win this, for the normal every day wife, mother, daughter, friend, coworker who has often been judged, but mostly complimented on her art.”
Rouse said she wants to win for Fairfield’s Lambadi City Tattoo and its owner, Jason Depew, her tattoo artist.
“He put a lot of man hours into my arm, and he deserves the recognition as well,” she said. “I also would like to win this for my hometown, Hamilton. Our city has built its way back from the ground up, and deserves another national spotlight put on it.
“I also think it’s important that the normal gal feels empowered enough to step outside her comfort zone, and just go for it. You never know what could happen.”
Rouse said that if she wins the $25,000, she would donate a portion to a Hamilton-based organization.
“I’m not sure in what way, but I have enough connections, I could ask around to see where the money would be needed most,” she said. “Also, I plan to give a big chunk to my church, to help others in need in my new community, Greenfield, Indiana. The rest would go back into my family.”
Rouse said she wants to help others who need it more than myself.
“We are taught to give, and I’ve never really been in a position where I have a whole lot to give, other than my time and a more realistic monetary offering. But my heart is a giving heart, and I’m happiest when I can give to others,” she said.
Rouse said although she recently moved to Greenfield, Indiana, near Indianapolis, to start a new journey with my husband, she will “forever” make the hour and a half trip back to Depew for any future work. my “He is an amazing artist, and his shop also has other amazing artists as well,” she said.
Rouse is in seventh place, but pushing for one of the top spots. Voting ends for Top 10 voting March 5, Top 5 voting March 12 and the group winner March 19. A winner is announced April 9.
“It sounds like a lot, but I have faith,” she said.
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