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Lady Gaga And Assault Survivors From Oscars Performance Get Matching “Unity” Tattoos


Lady Gaga’s performance of “Til It Happens to You” at the Academy Awards was a powerful message about sexual assault, as she brought forward survivors with words like “Not your fault,” “Unbreakable,” and “It happened to me” on their arms. It was also a strong call to action for people to take the ItsOnUs pledge to fight rape culture. Gaga spoke about to Sirius XM Music about the challenges leading up to the performance and the matching tattoos a lot of them got.

I was have a really, really a hard time preparing for this performance…I’ve been sick for a long time because of what happened to me all those years ago, but facing it in front of the world was so–I mean, I’m sure you can understand as a woman. It was so shameful and it was so hard for me to accept I was going to be finally one in that group and I was crying, my body hurt, I suffer from chronic pain because I get paralyzed with fear and my whole body hurts…I was really going through it, and I went out there, and I met the survivors and I started crying.

When Gaga met the survivors, she said she was “disconnected” and felt guilty and sorry she couldn’t be “Gaga” for them.

They said, ‘No, no it’s more real this way’ and one girl said ‘I really want to get matching tattoos.’ She was trying to make me feel not alone, and she was dead-on because as soon as she said that and as soon as I said ‘does anyone else have pain?’ and everyone raised their hand and I asked ‘do your bodies hurt?’ and they all raised their hands–I knew I wasn’t alone.


The tattoo was designed by Stanford student Jacqueline Lin, one of the 50 survivors from the performance who describes her process here.

The tattoo was made for and dedicated to survivors. It is a unity symbol inspired by the loops of our DNA structure and our universal infinity sign. I combined inspiration from Lady Gaga’s favorite flower, the white rose, to breathe life into an organic and growing symbol. The final image embraces a fiery shape to give us power and strength everywhere we go.

Gaga says that meeting the survivors and knowing she wasn’t alone “made me feel like the pain was lessening,” noting that “this song is not just about sexual assault, this song is about anyone who’s been through something that is traumatic that causes that kind of connection in the brain that goes ‘I’m just going to deal with this later.'”

(via Jezebel)

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