To Make A Good Lady Logo, Choose A Squiggle, Tree, Ribbon, Or Spiral

If you’re going to make a logo for some kind of lady group, you have four leitmotifs to choose from: squiggle, tree, ribbon or spiral. In her entirely .jpg-based essay, artist Shana Moutlon looks at how we reinforce gender stereotypes through bad logo design.

Squiggles, Trees, Ribbons and Spirals: My Collection of Women’s Health, Beauty and Support Group Logos as the Stages of Life in Semi-Particular Order [AFC]


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  1. Wickedly says:

    Most logos are created in Adobe Illustrator nowadays…and shapes like that are extremely easy to create with the “pen tool” provided with that software. 5 or 6 clicks…poof, instant logo. Everyone’s a designer nowadays.

    • jesirose says:

      And apparently everyone’s a writer, when all it takes to write an “essay” is to take a bunch of graphics done by other people, and put them in “Semi-Particular Order”. Wow.

      • Michaela says:

        There was supposed to be an order?

        Honestly, this was probably the dumbest link I clicked all day. As my high school English teacher would say, this presentation fails to answer the question “so what.”

        • dangerp says:

          lol, exactly. I sat there perplexed wondering what I was looking at and why in the world I was supposed to be looking at it.

    • SilentAgenger says:

      “Everyone’s a designer nowadays.”

      …which is the bane to REAL designers.

  2. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Look, if marketing determines squiggles, trees, ribbons, and spirals appeal to women and thus effective in marketing/advertising, then it’s not really a stereotype, is it? It’s reality. If it wasn’t effective, they wouldn’t be using it. You can’t call something a stereotype unless it goes against what research or statistical data determine is accurate.

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      if that’s all we have to choose from, no wonder it’s all we wind up choosing.

    • Ihaveasmartpuppy says:

      Who are they polling to come to the fact that those shapes appeal to women? Certainly not me, and I’m a woman. I hate all those dumb lady shapes.

    • jesirose says:

      That implies all stereotypes are false. Why can’t a stereotype be true? IE, Asians are good at math. It’s not insulting, it’s not hurtful, and it’s true. It’s a stereotype none the less.

      Plenty of logos in the actual article aren’t just spirals or ribbons.

      Not to mention, she didn’t actually WRITE anything. So the “essay” can’t be about reinforcing gender stereotypes unless that’s what YOU see in it. There’s nothing wrong with gender roles. Women are feminine. OH GOD NOOOOO

      • Tim says:

        Not all asians are good at math. People of other races are good at math.

        How is “Asians are good at math” true? And if it is true, why isn’t “hispanics are good at math” true?

        • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

          There are two kinds of people, you know. There’s the kind who divides people into two disparate groups based on some really trivial criterion, and there’s the kind who doesn’t bother wasting time on irrelevancies like that. (And yes, I know which kind I am. :P)

          • dangerp says:

            Look, there’s three types of people in this world. Those that can count, and those that can’t.

            /humor attempt

            I’m trying to figure out what you are implying here. Are you saying that gender differences are irrelevant? That the criterion between male and female are trivial? Men and women are much different from each other, from physiology to psychology. To choose to be ignorant to those differences doesn’t make much sense to me.

            • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

              Joke. Just a joke. I know, it’s like totally unbelievable coming from a nerd like me, but it was actually an attempt to be jocular. It won’t happen again. (*snif*)

          • headhot says:

            Stop stereotyping people who stereotype.

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          I tend to view it this way: If a vast majority follow a hyperbolic stereotypical statement (Ex. Asians are good at math) then I consider it true. I understand that no social situation exists where 100% will fall into a particular statement, but I consider it “true” when the vast majority do.

        • jesirose says:

          But you can say “Asians are good at math” because the majority are. You can find statistics to show that easily. I didn’t say “ALL”.

          The rest of your logic makes no sense. How does saying one thing make another false in the example you gave? You’re completely missing the point.

          A stereotype can be an accurate, or inaccurate statement. It can be positive or negative. That is the point.

          • Tim says:

            And the majority of Americans are white. That doesn’t mean it’s accurate to say “Americans are white.”

            You can’t simply ignore a well-sized minority just because it’s a minority, especially when you’re making blanket statements equating a race with a quality.

          • mythago says:

            Sorry, if you said it in English, “Asians are good at math” means “All Asians are good at math”. Using the implied ‘all’ and then pretending offense because gawrsh, you never SAID all is a rhetorical trick and not a particularly subtle one.

      • Blueberry Scone says:

        When I was in college, I had a classmate who was Japanese-American. She said that she HATED math and sucked at it (her words, not mine), and her strength was in her writing. She said it felt like people didn’t see her for *who she was* – they just had a stereotype and couldn’t believe/accept that she didn’t fit the mold.

      • ParingKnife ("That's a kniwfe.") says:

        Why can’t a stereotype be true? Did you actually ask that?

        Maybe because there’s more difference between any two people of the same group than there is between any two groups of people in general.

        • TheGreySpectre says:

          They can be true and in fact are usually based on something that is at least semi common, just often they are far too general and hence are not universally true.

          • ParingKnife ("That's a kniwfe.") says:

            If it’s only true some of the time and never enough to be useful, then you and I have a very different definition of the word, “true”.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        It is hurtful because the underlying assumption and unspoken word is “all” and it’s just not true. I may be Asian but I’m not representative of ALL Asians, just like they are not representative of me. I would rather not be looked at as an ethnicity with all of the stereotypes and the baggage. And in fact, I really suck at math. But anyone who assumes otherwise because I’m a certain ethnicity is harmful because it then detracts from what people observe of me as a person, not as an ethnicity.

        And because people think “oh but it’s totally awesome because it’s great that people think you’re good at math” it IS hurtful. It implies that I’m good at one thing, but not at another.

      • pop top says:

        Stereotyping is bad, whether you believe the statement to be positive or negative, no matter what because it always makes you assume something about someone you don’t know and puts them on the spot. Even if, using your example, a lot of Asians are good at math, what about the ones that aren’t? And are you talking Southeastern Asian or East Asian? Are you grouping all those people together just because they live on the same continent?

        Based on your name, I’d say you’re female. Does that mean that you are a terrible driver? Does that mean that when you menstruate you are a gigantic bitch? Do you like doing housework all the time? Do you make your boyfriend pay for all of your meals and buy you presents? Do you constantly gossip about people behind their back, but are nice to their face? Check out the Wiki article (, it has a lot of good links and I think that you should really give it a read.

    • Skankingmike says:

      All white people hate minorities.

  3. Telekinesis123 says:

    It always amazes me how some people think there are no such thing as masculine and feminine, as if the whole thing has been made up for as long as human history.

    • jesirose says:


      If you want a good laugh, go read the comments on the “essay”. Hilarious.

      • SuperSnackTime says:

        I thought every poster was being ironic. But then I realized its not very likely that 100% of respondents felt like being ironic.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Agreed. I dislike the movement of de-genderizing everyone. There are certain traits that each gender has, that mostly compliment each other. It’s not true for every person – we’re all different – but it is true for the majority. And by forcing us to de-genderize each other, we’re repressing our own base instincts which we then lash out in inappropriate ways.

      We need to get past the idea that all women NEED to be sexual objects and that all men NEED to be testerone-driven tough guys. But, we shouldn’t criticize the men and women who happen to take on these classic portrayals.

      • dangerp says:


        Well said. There are certain gender stereotypes that can be harmful, but by and large we are consistently very different in very ways. And that’s OK.

        I’m not really even sure what this ‘essay’ (?) is trying to communicate. Sure, many of the logos look similar. Is that a bad thing? Yes, you can tell the squiggles are women because they are slender, graceful, and has pronounced hips. Guess what? The female body is (in general) more slender, graceful, and um, ‘hipful’ than a man’s body, and we all know what the female body looks like next to a male’s. It’s not ‘reinforcing gender stereotypes’, it’s making your logo recognizable as a woman.

        It takes a seriously radical feminist to pull anything negative out of this photo collection. To me it portrays women as beautiful and elegant. What’s wrong with that?

        • smo0 says:

          I would say that all women have a vagina and all men have a penis… but not even that’s true….



    • Tim says:

      To quote a great president, it depends on what the definition of “is” is.

      If you’re arguing over whether masculinity and femininity exist, it depends on what it means to exist. In some ways, they do exist, but in some ways, they don’t.

      It’s similar to race. I can tell you that genetically, there’s more variation among some people within a race than there is among some people in different races (or any number of genetic ways to prove that race doesn’t exist). Then, I can show you that the average black household makes $x per year less than the average white household. Does race exist?

    • ParingKnife ("That's a kniwfe.") says:

      Except for the part that is all just stuff we made up. Everything aesthetic is an interpretation, which is why there are cultures that cannot interpret line drawings without being taught. The idea of curves being “inherently” feminine misses the fact that there’s no reason this is so beyond our common cultural tradition which isn’t shared among all of humanity without exception. It has nothing to do with “degenderizing”. It’s about recognizing that gender, like race, is completely made up. Not that it’s unimportant.

  4. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    I hope she’s not a Masters student, resting on this as her thesis…

  5. aloria says:

    What is she talking about? That green one in the center top is TOTALLY a dude!

  6. kurtmac says:
  7. ninabi says:

    By God, we need a “bad lady” logo. One with which I can identify. Screw swirls and dancing.

    • Blueberry Scone says:

      Oooh, I like that! Maybe the figure could be giving the finger, or drinking straight from a wine bottle?

      • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

        Or just standing in a commanding posture usually reserved for the lords of the universe.

  8. MaelstromRider says:

    What BS… Some of those logos are clearly pagan/neo-pagan and probably came from sites that cater to that particular demographic. Some of those logos are derived from ancient goddess or triple-goddess images and are perfectly appropriate for their use in this case.

  9. chaesar says:

    I will be sure to market my new brand of sanitary napkins with a chainsaw logo

  10. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Funny, the “essayist” didn’t happen to use this iconic logo

    • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

      While Rosie is awesome, she is not a logo. A logo is a pictoral representation of a particular brand–a company, an organization. No one company “owns” Rosie; she is an icon, a symbol.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        Ah, I disagree.

        Logo: A logo is a graphic mark or emblem commonly used by commercial enterprises, organizations and even individuals to aid and promote instant public recognition.

        It’s promotes instant recognition.

        • lchen says:

          1. This seems to be about current logos, not historical ones. 2. I disagree about your definition of a logo. While the image can serve the purpose of a logo, a logo can’t be overly complicated or have too many colors. Logos have to be reproduced at many different sizes and remain readable.

          I went to school for illustration and only had a few design classes but that is the gist of it. I have design a logo or two for clients in recent years.

  11. theycallmeGinger says:

    Those are pretty common elements for logos in general, not just gender-specific ones. Just google image “fitness logo.” Squiggles, trees, ribbons & spirals are not restricted to just female audiences.

  12. cape1232 says:

    Umm, Popken sez: “artist Shana Moutlon looks at how we reinforce gender stereotypes through bad logo design”, but where on the linked page does Shana actually say that? I didn’t see anything suggesting what Ben said she said. Did I miss it?

  13. MichaelRyanSD says:

    God forbid women have things called curves and logos are marketed as such

  14. lchen says:

    This is just uncreative lazy and safe, Don Draper wouldn’t have approved.

  15. libwitch says:

    I sort of laugh at the Earth Spirit logo she has there…I think she has missed the point of *that* logo entirely.