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A Medusa Tattoo is a tattoo that depicts the Greek mythological gorgon Medusa, commonly depicted as a woman with snakes for hair who turns people to stone if they look into her eyes. Medusa was originally a beautiful maiden but was turned into a monster when Minerva caught Poseidon sexually assaulting her in her temple, according to some renditions of the story. Medusa tattoos have become symbolic of the strength of sexual assault survivors, painting Medusa as a survivor of sexual assault who was wrongfully punished for it. In late 2021 and again in mid-2022, sharing Medusa tattoos and the meaning behind them became a trend on TikTok.
In the Greek mythology story of Medusa, Medusa is a beautiful maiden who is turned into a "gorgon" with wings, snakes for hair and the curse of turning anyone who looks at her into stone after she is found having sex with Poseidon in Minerva's temple. The Roman poet Ovid's interpretation of the story uses the Greek word "vitiasse" to describe this, which can roughly translate to "defiled." Many believe Posideon raped Medusa and see it as unfair that Medusa was punished for being assaulted. In modern times, Medusa has become a symbol of female empowerment and the strength of sexual assault survivors, who see Medusa not as a monster but as a survivor. Medusa tattoos have taken on the same meanings, which are mentioned in articles by Thoughtful Tattoos and Tattoo Filter published in 2014 and 2018 respectively.
In 2021, TikTokers began spreading the meaning behind Medusa tattoos and sharing their own examples of such tattoos. For example, on September 26th, 2021, TikToker @_jkerly posted a video of her tattoo telling others with Medusa tattoos that they're strong, garnering over 100,000 views in a year (shown below). On November 10th, Distractify published an article about the tattoos trending on TikTok.
In August 2022, the trend of showing off one's Medusa tattoos and spreading the word about their meanings saw an increase in popularity. On August 20th, TikToker @clairedelunar._, a tattoo artist, posted a video about discovering the meaning behind a client's Medusa tattoo, garnering over 15 million views in a week (shown below).
On August 21st, 2022, TikToker @rosieclaired_ posted a video implying why she got a Medusa tattoo, garnering over 6.9 million views in a week (shown below, left). On the same day, TikToker @jessicalouisaevo posted a video explaining the meaning behind the tattoos, garnering over 2 million views (shown below, right). By August 31st, the hashtag "#medusatatto" had over 357 million total views on TikTok.
 Thoughtful Tattoos – Medusa Tattoo Meanings and Tantalizing Design Ideas Just for You