Medusa’s Depictions Through History

Medusa—a monster, a gorgon, a dangerous woman—with her snake hair, is an instantly recognizable subject throughout history. In art, fashion and pop culture, she has been portrayed in countless ways, but around 2,000 years ago Medusa got a makeover: “Her androgynous features were increasingly feminized; mustache stubble was replaced by smooth cheeks, fangs concealed by shapely lips.” This monster was transformed from almost comedically hideous to a wildly dangerous, sexual beauty. She kept being transformed and was, perhaps, the first famous “femme fatale” in culture. While her evolution is fascinating on its own, it also says a lot about how society’s views of women. “Google any famous woman’s name… along with the word ‘Medusa’—all of them have been photoshopped onto famous renditions of the Gorgon,” says Artsy’s Abigail Cain. “The fears embodied by Medusa are two-pronged: the sexually independent woman is dangerous, but so, too, is the politically independent one.” Read more at Artsy.