Lady Gaga's Tattoos: The Meaning Behind Her 10 Best, From David Bowie to the Little Monsters
19 That’s how many tattoos decorate Lady Gaga’s body, almost all on her left side. Gaga is a self-proclaimed “daddy’s girl,” and she’s honoring a promise to her father to keep one side of her body (mostly) clean from ink. She calls the left side her “Iggy Pop side,” and right side her “Marilyn Monroe side,” symbolizing her stature as a creative chameleon. Each tattoo is crafted with a personal meaning, all deeply rooted within different parts of Gaga’s life. Here are 10 of our favorites:
The Monster Paw Tattoo
Mother Monster isn’t complete without a monster tattoo, right? On the left side of her body is a giant hand-turned-monster paw decked out in lace and beads (classic Gaga). It’s for her Little Monster fans who “hold their paws up in the air” during her live performances.
The Mother Monster Tattoo
Under Gaga’s arm and extending up into her armpit (ouch) is a curly-lettered “Mother Monster” tattoo. It’s meant to remind the pop star of the mutual love between herself and her fanbase.
The Little Monsters Tattoo
Because two is not enough, Gaga has a third tattoo in honor of her fans: a “Little Monsters” script on her upper left arm.
The Daddy Tattoo
Even though he doesn’t really dig body art, Lady Gaga loves her daddy so much that she got a “dad” heart tattoo on her upper left shoulder. In 2009, her father underwent open-heart surgery, hence the heart behind the word. He struggled with a heart condition for many years and wouldn’t have undergone the surgery without Gaga’s tough persuasion. (She gave him an ultimatum: get the surgery, or she’d never write or love again if he were to pass away).
The Born This Way Unicorn Tattoo
On Gaga’s left thigh is a unicorn, her dedication to her third studio album Born This Way. It was spotted when the singer forgot her pants (whoops) while strolling through LAX.
The Tony Bennett Trumpet Tattoo
To commemorate her appreciation of (and collaboration with) the legendary Tony Bennett, Gaga placed a black-and-white trumpet on the inside of her right bicep. Bennett, who is also a talented painter, designed the trumpet for his good friend Stefani.
The David Bowie Tattoo
Ahead of her tribute to the late, great David Bowie at this year’s Grammy Awards, Lady Gaga got a large Ziggy Stardust inked on the side of her body. Gaga, who dressed up as Bowie and performed a nine-song medley of his biggest hits back in February, has always found inspiration in his glamour and creative approach.
The Survivor Tattoo
At her 2016 Oscars performance, Lady Gaga stood in solidarity with 50 sexual abuse survivors in an emotional rendition of “Til It Happens To You.” And when everyone raised their arms up in the air, matching tattoos were visible all around, which Gaga -- a survivor herself -- got inked on her shoulder as well. Before the performance, she met with the survivors and broke down in tears, which is when someone brought up the idea of the matching tattoos. (Gaga later spoke about how the performance and experience has helped her begin her healing process). Following the Oscars, the It’s On Us campaign -- a personal commitment to keep women and men safe from sexual assault -- received almost ten times more pledges.
The Joanne Tattoo
Lady Gaga has a tradition of getting a tattoo for each new album (except for The Fame, which she later dedicated the Bowie tattoo to), and for her latest effort Joanne -- due out Oct. 21 -- she got the date 12/18/1974 on her body (there might be a second Joanne tattoo soon). That’s the day her aunt Joanne, who the album is named after, passed away. It’s also the name of her father’s New York City restaurant. The date is right in the middle of her German “Rilke” tattoo.
The Mouse Tattoo
Gaga’s younger sister, Natali, is a fashion designer whose nickname growing up was “mouse.” For her baby sis, she’s got a mouse on the back of her left arm holding a sewing needle.