What is the meaning of a butterfly tattoo? TikTok sheds new light on ink

Eve Edwards November 16, 2022
What is the meaning of a butterfly tattoo? TikTok sheds new light on ink
Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images


Tattoos are taking over TikTok with users sharing their motivations for getting inked – and one of the most popular designs is a butterfly tattoo, which holds several personal meanings.

While TikTok is home to silly skits, mini-vlogs, and dance videos, the platform has also become a way to connect and bond with others around the world. Ink-lovers are sharing stories behind their tattoos on the app, which has raised interest in the butterfly tattoo.

We’ve previously explored TikTokers’ views relating to what it might mean to have the likeness of Disney’s Maleficent or a figure of Aphrodite tattooed on their body. But what about the butterfly?

As the tattoo trends across the platform, we explore all the meanings found on TikTok.

Photo by James Devaney/GC Images

What is the meaning of a butterfly tattoo?

According to Custom Tattoo Design, the butterfly has long stood as a “paradigm of natural beauty.” It has served as a symbol representing faith, transformation and freedom. Butterflies are closely linked to femininity and romantic love, which is why they’re a particularly popular tattoo with women.

Another common meaning attached to the butterfly as a symbol is the fact butterflies are closely tied to flight, which symbolizes freedom.

Popular placements for a butterfly tattoo are the upper arm, wrist, ankle, back, behind the ear, and above the knees. But what’s most important regarding where you place your tattoo is what it symbolizes to you.

A butterfly tattoo can also symbolize change

Another common meaning attributed to a butterfly tattoo is change. Butterflies reflect metamorphosis in effect. They are one of the only creatures that begins life as one thing, then transforms into something completely different.

A butterfly can symbolize rebirth, resurrection, change, and metamorphosis.

A viral TikTok video discussing why so many people have a butterfly tattoo speculates it is because butterflies mean change, rebirth and freedom. The video includes ‘healing journey’ in the tagged comments, suggesting a butterfly tattoo represents overcoming struggles. One commenter added the symbol was a “sign of healing, growth and transformation.”

TikTok gives tattoo new meaning

Each individual tattoo holds a personal meaning. For those with butterfly tattoos, they don’t necessarily have to represent a healing journey, freedom or beauty. In fact, the discussion sparked on TikTok over butterfly tattoos has presented a number of alternative meanings.

One TikTok user explains a butterfly tattoo can also represent a loved one who’s passed.

Another TikTok user stated a butterfly tattoo can symbolize someone who has struggled with self-harm.

Not all butterfly tattoos stick to one symbolic meaning as, like all ink, they are incredibly personal.


🦋 The meaning of butterfly tattoos. Do you have a butterfly tattoo for different reasons? #butterfly #tattoo #inked #fyp #inkedup #butterflytattoo

♬ Aesthetic – Tollan Kim

Celebrities share the meaning behind their butterfly tattoos

Several famous faces have shared their butterfly ink over the years. It’s one of the most popular tattoos among celebs, who have placements ranging from their hands to ankles.

Ariana Grande, Shawn Mendes, Queen Latifah, Kylie Jenner, Harry Styles, Vanessa Hudgens, Megan Fox and Mariah Carey all have a butterfly tattoo.

Steph Curry also has a matching butterfly tattoo with his wife, Ayesha. Steph and Ayesha’s three children are each represented by an inked symbol. Their daughter, Ryan, is represented by the butterfly.

“We have monikers for all f our kids and my daughter Ryan is the butterfly,” Steph Curry told Golf Digest. “It speaks to her free spirit and her energy for life.”

Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images
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Eve spends her days writing about everything culture-related. From celebrity news to music, film and television, Eve covers all bases. When she’s not writing you can find her making music or mastering the art of homemade pasta.