“Can we PLEASE stop making snap judgements about people based on their horoscopes? Love, a reluctant Scorpio.”
“What sign are you?”
For most people, this question is entirely innocuous. There’s nothing an astrology addict loves more than telling you all about their star sign, after all. And even the staunchest non-believers know enough to tell you, however reluctantly, that theirs is a Capricorn horoscope, or a Sagittarius, or a Gemini, or even an Ophiuchus.
Me, though? Those four little words fill me with dread, every single time. Because, when I’m forced to admit to someone that I’m a Scorpio, it provokes a very strange reaction.
“You’re a Scorpio?” they’ll reply, usually with an eyebrow raised, as if I’m having a joke at their expense. “I guess you never can tell with some people, can you?”
Well, no, actually – you can’t. And that’s because, while the other zodiac signs like to keep things vague, the narrative around Scorpios is incredibly prescriptive. Like, incredibly prescriptive. Don’t believe me? Well, humour me for a moment: close your eyes, and picture a Scorpio.
Take your time on this exercise – I can wait.
Now, I’m willing to bet that the Scorpio in your mind’s eye had a bit of a goth vibe going on – by which I mean they were wearing black, and probably just a little too much smoky eye makeup. I’m right, aren’t I? I know I’m right: if we’ve been told one thing about Scorpios, it’s that we wear black all day, every day. Because Scorpios are dark, and dramatic, and basically part-vampire. Fact.
Scorpios aren’t just famous for their clothing, however. We’re vengeful, too, apparently – and I mean seriously vengeful (think Liam Neeson in Taken, or Regina George in Mean Girls). We’re sadistic, seductive, sex-crazed bitches, who think and rule almost entirely with our genitals. We’re 100% evil, we talk shit about everyone behind their backs, and we’re power-hungry despots with a serious need to lead. And, if you believe the rumours, we have a nasty habit of dropping dramatically onto Chaise Longues – eyes wide, brows feverish and hands pressed against our hearts – whenever we learn of something ever so slightly scandalous (“Erm, someone cooked fish in the office microwave? Are you effing serious? HOW COULD THEY DO THIS TO ME?!”).
Basically, Scorpios are the worst sign. So, for people who believe in horoscopes (and those who semi-believe), it can be hard to shake the feeling that befriending this tricky sign is a huge mistake – like hugging an actual scorpion and hoping to hell that it won’t sting you. And that sucks for Scorpios everywhere, particularly those who – like myself – find it impossible to relate to their star sign in any way whatsoever.
I’m a Scorpio by name, but not by nature. I only wear black for funerals, I’m incredibly soft-spoken, and I’ve been described as “cool headed and kind hearted” by members of my team. I loathe intense eye contact, being termed a “sexy arachnid”, and making decisions with my genitalia. I’ve never even attempted a smoky eye. And revenge is a dish best served as far away from me as possible, to be honest.
Despite this, though, my sign’s reputation precedes me. If I ever show the slightest hint that my feathers have been ruffled, people around me begin to mutter that “Scorpio is rising”. My writer’s instinct to tell a story as it should be told has seen me labelled a “drama queen”. And, the few times I’ve signed up to a store’s email newsletter, I’ve been inundated with shopping suggestions based on my bloody horoscope: think black lace, black nail polish, black bath bombs… and latex underwear. Yes, really.
It goes without saying that astrology is absolutely not a ‘science’. Indeed, it’s been wholeheartedly rejected by the scientific community – with many pointing out that astrological predictions are too general, too unspecific to be subjected to scientific testing. And we all know, no matter what star sign we are, that stereotyping is a bad thing: research has proven that individual performance may be affected adversely by heightened awareness of negative group stereotypes (a phenomenon known as “stereotype threat”). And, as Psychology Today states, you “don’t even have to go to the research to develop your distaste for stereotypes”.
“Looking around, most of us have seen with our own eyes the harm that can come from stereotyping, from stuffing complex human beings into categories at once too broad and too narrow and using those to justify all manner of unfair and vicious conduct,” the site states.
“We want our story to be the fully fleshed narrative, nuanced and rich and singular as we feel ourselves to be, as we actually are.”
Well, quite. But, for those of you who live, eat and breathe horoscopes, don’t worry – I have astrological evidence to back the theory that we should never stereotype based on zodiac signs.
Astro Poets – penned by viral Twitter sensations Dorothea Lasky and Alex Dimitrov – goes to great pains to remind readers that no sign is better or worse than the other. More importantly, though, they make it very clear that you can’t assume you know everything about a person based on their star sign. To do this, they take a closer look at Björk, a famous Scorpio.
Why? Because Björk is, on the surface, the antithesis of everything a Scorpio is and should be: she doesn’t wear black, she doesn’t opt for plunging necklines, she doesn’t dress like she escaped from the set of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Instead, the Icelandic singer swathes herself in fun pops of colour, floaty materials, and stuffed swans.
So what gives?
“Scorpios are intense in whatever they do, and for Björk, being a fucking genius in both fashion and music is just an intense endeavour,” they explain.
“For Björk, wearing gorgeously loud colours and forms is a way for her to both put on a sort of uniform and win the game in a long term… [so], if you are a Scorpio reading this, know you don’t have to dress in any one way – there are so many options to be you in the world.”
Yes, this. This 1,000,000 times over. We can all read into signs and we can all assume that a dash of astrology will help us better understand someone (we shouldn’t, of course, but we can if we really want to), but we need to remember that interpretation is everything. And, y’know, we need to remember to use our common sense, too: if every Scorpio was a brooding sex-crazed goth, at least five people in your office would be dressed like Alice Cooper and flexing a leather strap between their hands right now. At least.