Gen Z is no stranger to stirring some controversy when it comes to their TikTok content. This time, they’re going viral for encouraging a generation-unifying tattoo. The problem? The symbol chosen was a “Z” with a strike through the middle, which many claimed looked like the Wolfsangel, an infamous Nazi symbol.
It all began when Jordan Joann Williams posted a now-deleted TikTok. In it, she encouraged the rest of Gen Z to get the symbol tattooed. She said, “Okay Gen Z listen up! What if, now hear me out…We all got a matching tattoo as not only a symbol of unity in our generation but also a sign of rebellion.”
Williams’ paired the tattoo idea with plans to sell merch decorated with the symbol.
Offensive Tattoo Trends
As the video gained traction, many were quick to point out the symbol’s similarity to the German Wolfsangel. The Wolfsangel is an ancient runic symbol that was believed to be able to ward off wolves. However, it now represents white supremacy after it was appropriated by Nazi Germany, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). It became a symbol of choice for Nazis in Europe and the US, and was used in the logo for the US-based Nazi group, Aryan Nations.
While most users compared it to the Wolfsangel, others wrote that it simply looked too much like a swastika to be inoffensive.
Unfortunately, that didn’t stop other users from getting the tattoo on their body. Multiple users showed images of their fresh “Gen Z tattoos” on Twitter and TikTok. One TikTok showed a user’s process of getting the symbol tattooed on their foot.
After widespread backlash, Williams deleted her original TikTok calling for the controversial tattoo and uploaded an apology. She explained that she had been writing her Z’s with a strike through the middle since she was young. When she chose to use it as a tattoo, she “did not think anything of it.”
Williams said, “I did not think it looked like a swastika, I did not know about the Wolfsangel thing.”
She tearfully stated that her intent was to bring her generation together and that her idea was to promote love and unity. Williams asked that people stop sending her hate messages and promoted an alternate symbol — an equal sign.
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