Can We Stop With the Snap Negative Judgments About Zodiac Signs, Please?

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When I recently handed a bar bouncer my driver's license, I was hoping he'd tell me he couldn't believe I was in my 30s. Instead, he took one look and said, "Oh man, a Gemini? I would never date one of you." In the moment, it was the last thing I expected to come out of his mouth—and it left me feeling genuinely offended. But I guess I shouldn't have been surprised; I've been dealing with this kind of zodiac shaming my entire life, as one of the star signs that people love to hate. Case in point? In a nationally representative 2021 survey of 2,000 people, a whopping 42 percent said they would never date a Gemini.

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If you follow even one astrological meme account on Instagram, you may have picked up on the fact that there are certain signs that get a lot more flak than others—and Gemini is most definitely among them. Though astrologers will tell you that Gemini is a communicative, thoughtful, quick-witted, and funny sign (thanks to its mutable modality, air element, and rulership by Mercury), the sign is all too often dismissed on the internet as unfeeling and self-centered or flighty and fickle.

"The rise in social media and the meme-ification of everything has really played a role in this [zodiac shaming]," says astrologer Ryan Marquardt, a fellow Gemini who has been shamed into taking "Gemini" out of his dating profiles. "I think it's exposed a lot of people to astrology, but they aren't really diving any deeper into it. There's just been a massive uptick in people who are perpetuating huge stereotypes about [different signs]."

"I think [social media] has exposed a lot of people to astrology, but they aren't really diving any deeper into it." —Ryan Marquardt, astrologer

In stripping down astrological signs to their most rudimentary factors—and often, grabbing at a low-hanging punch line—pop culture astrology leaves little room for the nuance that makes this practice so powerful. "It's great that [social media] has brought astrology into the mainstream, but it puts it at its most basic level that people can understand," says astrologer Victoria Kray, founder of Victory Astrology. For the record, that means some zodiac signs are just as inaccurately glorified (looking at you, Sagittarius) as others are shamed.

In actuality, we shouldn't be making sweeping bad (or good!) judgments about any singular zodiac sign because all signs have qualities that can be expressed in positive (aka "light") and negative (aka "shadow") traits, depending on the situation and person (more on this below). Not to mention, a person's sun sign is just one aspect of their entire birth or natal chart—and is far from synonymous with who they are as a whole human being.

Why certain signs are unfairly subjected to zodiac shaming

Astrologers agree that there are two signs in particular that tend to get the most zodiac hate—namely, Gemini and Scorpio. Based on the internet's assessment, we twins are two-faced and duplicitous while Scorpios are scary intense... and should be avoided at all costs.

As a Gemini whose fiancé, dog, and five best friends are all also Geminis and who has a whole lot of Scorpio love in her life, too, I can't help but think that both signs really are not that bad. So where do these less-than-stellar reputations come from—and why are they so widely popularized?

One of the reasons people feel so vexed by us "two-faced," "fickle," "back-stabbing" twins, Marquardt posits, is because engaging with Gemini energy takes them back to early childhood social situations. "In the developmental phases of elementary and junior high school is where we see many of the stereotypical behaviors associated with Gemini—like telling a friend a secret and having them spread it around or being stabbed in the back," says Marquardt. For some people, connecting with an adult Gemini could "energetically take them back to that space that may be triggering," leading them to have a "subconscious response to that time in their lives," he says.

But that response isn't necessarily warranted in the present—and reflects a fundamental misunderstanding about what Gemini energy really is, says Marquardt. With Gemini, what you see is what you get, he explains. "For people to be dissecting every little thing that a Gemini does when the sign is largely surface-level just doesn't make sense. It's really not that deep when it comes to Gemini behavior." And it's pretty ironic that people often refuse to believe that, given that "Gemini is the sign that rules curiosity and open-mindedness," he adds.

With Scorpio, the zodiac shaming may spring from a more emotional place. "Scorpio basically rules your triggers," says Marquardt. "A Scorpio knows how to push all your buttons...They're a detective archetype, so they can pick up on all the little hidden parts of you and penetrate them, which can freak people out."

According to astrologer Madi Murphy, founder of the spiritual wellness platform CosmicRx, the fact that certain zodiac signs get such hate says more about society than it does about the signs themselves. In the case of Gemini, people might have a tough time accepting the sign because it's "curious and questioning and tends to turn things on their head, which people don't necessarily like." Plus, we have a tendency, societally, to try to label people as a singular thing to feel like we understand them, but Geminis thwart this tendency off the bat. "They're unpredictable and have multiple sides to them, and that can make people uncomfortable," she says.

Scorpio doesn't quite fit an acceptable societal mold, either. "It's a sign that's all about the shadow and pushing people to change through discomfort," says Murphy. "They'll give it to you straight or reflect things back to you that you may not like about yourself, and there's an intensity there that we don't really love, as a society."

But here's the thing: No sun sign is perfect. As noted above, we all have light and shadow traits that function as two sides of the same coin. Just as Taurus is sensual and sensible, it can also be materialistic; Cancer's empathy and compassion can manifest as moodiness; and while Leos are confident and creative, they can also show up as dramatic or self-centered, to name just a few. The fact that the shadow traits of Gemini and Scorpio may be the easiest to pin down doesn't make it any more sensible to judge them for these circumstantial qualities alone.

Rather than looking at such shadow traits purely as negative, it's also helpful to reframe whatever yours might be as the places where you can work toward personal growth. "I'm a Virgo, and we get a bad rap for being very judgmental and picky—which I totally can be," says Murphy. "So I have to have a check in with myself to see when [my judgmental side] may be taking over, and figure out how to self-correct that."

In this way, learning the traits of any zodiac sign shouldn't come along with shame, no matter what sign is in question. Instead, "it's really about being aware of the strengths and weaknesses that we all carry," says Murphy.

Why it doesn't make astrological sense to judge a person by their sun sign

Though your sun sign is an important part of your birth chart—it's the one we namecheck when people ask, "What's your sign?"—it's still just one piece of the chart and, in turn, of who you are as a person. (To get your birth chart, plug your birth date, time, and location into a free online natal chart generator like this one.)

"The sun sign barely scratches the surface of our celestial footprint," says astrologer Valerie Mesa. "Each planet was transiting a particular zodiac sign at our time of birth, and those planets were also in conversation—if not at odds—with one another in the process." This is why you'll have a zodiac sign for every planet in your chart (and not just the sun); for just a couple examples, your moon sign will reflect your emotional personality and your Venus sign, the ways in which you give and receive love.

"The sun sign barely scratches the surface of our celestial footprint." —Valerie Mesa, astrologer

"[The location of all the planets when we were born] reflects a unique frequency of energies that shapes our persona and human experience," says Mesa. "Judging someone solely based on their sun sign is completely unrealistic."

So though I, for example, have my natal sun in Gemini, I also have planets in six other zodiac signs in my chart (including, like anyone else born between 1983 and 1995, Pluto in Scorpio). And it's this unique combination of planetary energies that makes up who I am—which, let it be known, is not a two-faced asshole who talks a ton of sh*t about her friends and cheats on her boyfriend.

"Understanding your whole chart can make you realize, 'I have all of these zodiac signs within me, just in different ways and concentrations, and each one makes up an aspect of my identity,'" says Marquardt. "As you learn the signs of each of the planets in your chart, you'll start to realize that you're not this boxed-in persona."

And neither is anyone else. If you make snap judgments about people based on their sun sign (or any other sign in their chart, for that matter), you run the risk of unnecessarily closing yourself off to opportunities—in friendships, relationships, work, and beyond. So before writing off Gemini or Scorpio or any other sign that you've decided sucks, remember that we are all a whole lot more than the sun's location at the time of our birth.

"A lot of people hate astrology because of this focus on the sun sign and the stereotypes," says Marquardt. "Skeptics are largely like, 'I'm not one of twelve things—you can't boil people down to that.' And my response is always, 'Exactly!' because astrology doesn't do that. It opens your eyes to the fact that you are so much more complex than a single archetype can reflect."

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