The Origins Of The Math Lady Meme


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By Reecha Kulkarni/Aug. 25, 2021 5:32 pm EDT

After years of wondering why Jack stole three apples from the five we had, we’ve dropped the question and the subject in high school. Now, outside the math classroom, we’re only faced with calculating how much to tip, how much to pay off our credit card bills and how many hours to wait until lunch hour ticks in. And none of these require equations. With over 93% of Americans reporting that they experience math anxiety, a kind of mental block when it comes to math (via BBC), it isn’t surprising that the Confused Math Lady meme became an internet sensation. She was as relatable as a meme could and should be.

The meme features a few different close-up shots of a woman who looks perplexed, nervous, and, frankly, a little scared. Random equations and diagrams surround her; you may recognize a few of them from geometry and algebra 2. And if you’re part of the 93%, you may also recognize the expression. If you relate to this meme, read on to know more about it.

The meme comes from a Brazilian TV show

According to meme encyclopedia Know Your Meme, the Confused Math Lady showed up on the internet as early as 2013 but began growing in popularity in 2016. It was around that time that BuzzFeed Portugal used it as a reaction meme in an article they wrote, and popular meme sharing website 9Gag featured it with the photoshopped equations and the caption, “When a woman says she’s 29 weeks pregnant.” The meme has 30,000 upvotes and has since inspired memes that express confusion.

Twitter users have speculated on who the lady in the meme is, with some insisting she’s Julia Roberts and others, Katee Sackhoff. The “Battlestar Galactica” actress refuted claims in a tweet: “I don’t see it…,” although, we do. Another user thought it was Claire Danes: “Googled ‘Claire Danes math meme’ only to find out that ‘confused math lady’ is not Claire Danes, and now I myself am confused math lady.”

The Confused Math Lady is actually Brazilian actress Renata Sorrah, who portrays a villain in the telenovela “Senhora do Destino,” per Know Your Meme. The screenshots come from a scene in the show in which where Sorrah’s character is in jail and is thinking about everything but math. We truly appreciate the creativity of the internet.

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