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Sensitive Content Notice ⚠️
The following article contains and discusses content that may be distressing to some readers.
Reason for Warning: This aesthetic, as its name suggests, is centered around cannibalism, and also contains parallels to themes of sex and obsession; viewer discretion is advised.

Cannibalcore is an aesthetic that romanticizes cannibalism and consumption of others or the self as a metaphor to explore love and obsession, or the feeling of wanting someone or something so much that you want to consume it. There are also multiple common motifs found within this aesthetic, as the community is based upon shared interests in certain books, films, and prestige television series; Hannibal being the most explicit link to the link between cannibalism and love. In addition, Catholicism and the concept of transubstantiation, art house horror, and poetry popularized this culture.

It is important to note that people who are interested in this aesthetic do not support or participate in cannibalism, but rather use the dark subject matter to reflect intense feelings about love and the body. While characters and stories involved in this aesthetic may participate in cannibalism, this aesthetic in no way condones real-life cannibalism. Because of this, any real-life examples of cannibalism or famous cannibals (for example, Jeffery Dahmer) should not be included.


The introduction of a cannibal motif on Tumblr began with users spreading the popularity of the television series Hannibal (2013) in 2020, both before and after the pandemic. While the show was discussed on Tumblr while it was airing and often linked to Superwholock (the shared fandom of Supernatural, Dr. Who, and Sherlock,) the new crowd used the lens of analysis, rather than only the lens of fandom.

In these discussions on Hannibal, users explored Hannibal's murders as a manifestation for his love for beauty and, later, romance with protagonist FBI agent Will Graham. This popularized the motif of cannibalism as an act of love to Tumblr. Fans of the show expounded on this motif through web-weaving/parallels/comparatives, which are photo sets of artworks, literary quotes, poetry, etc. to unite a motif. Other fanworks such as edits with quotes superimposed over an image, collages, and fanfiction also reinforced this interpretation of Hannibal, which the show creator intended the audience to come away with[1].


This aesthetic generally uses the metaphor of cannibalism to convey the idea of consuming and being consumed by love. However there are several ways this can be interpreted based on how one uses the aesthetic.

First, there is love as obsession; similar to the Yandere aesthetic, some people may use cannibalcore to express a love for another person or thing that is so intense that they want to bite, drink or somehow consume the object of their affection. Examples of this are common in music by artists such as Jazmin Bean and Melanie Matinez.

Another way to interpret cannibalcore is by using it to express the idea of sacrifice or selflessness in love. In a metaphorical sense, individuals may be willing to "consume" or give up parts of themselves for the sake of the relationship. This sacrifice can be seen as an act of devotion, where the well-being of the partner becomes as important as one's own. This can either be portrayed as romantic, or in a less positive light, may be used to show a codependent or emotionally abusive relationship. It is usually, when utilized in a non-toxic manner, used to reference an intense relationship where one or both partners sacrifice their health, relationships, values, etc. for each other.

Feminist Approach[]

In feminist literature and film, the metaphor of cannibalism as a representation of love has been employed to critically examine women's bodily autonomy and the societal expectations placed upon them. The metaphors used in cannibalcore can be used to express the ways in which women may feel consumed or subsumed by societal norms, gender roles, and oppressive expectations.

One interpretation of this metaphor within feminist contexts is the idea of women being metaphorically "consumed" by traditional gender roles and societal expectations. Women have historically been expected to conform to certain ideals, sacrificing their individuality for the sake of societal norms. This can also be tied into the self-sacrifice aspect of cannibalcore described above where a person gives up parts of themself (in this case, physical parts such as blood and flesh) to show their devotion to their partner. Women in particular in our society may be expected to make sacrifices as well as do the majority of emotional labor in relationships. Additionally, because of the beauty standards women are expected to follow, the metaphor of the female body as something to be consumed or eaten is often used in cannibalcore media.

On the other hand, this metaphor can also be flipped to illustrate the reclamation of women's autonomy. “Good for Her” revenge movies in which a woman takes (usually violent) vengeance on a man who has wronged her use the aesthetic of cannibalcore extremely often. A popular example of this is the film “Jennifer’s Body” in which a pretty, popular high school girl gains demonic powers after being attacked by a group of men. Used to being objectified by those around her, she now becomes the consumer instead of the one being consumed, seducing, killing and eating the men in her town to fuel her powers. In this way, the philosophy of cannibalcore can be used as a powerful representation of women choosing to redefine love, sex and relationships on their terms. By embracing their own desires, needs, and agency, women can use the metaphor to symbolize a radical act of self-love and self-determination, resisting the societal pressures that seek to consume them.


Cannibalcore visuals usually revolve around flesh, blood and gore. However, gore is not a necessity in this aesthetic and does not need to be extreme to warrant fitting in the aesthetic. Key colors include shades of red and pink. Common visuals may include:

  • Blood
  • Meat or flesh
  • Bones
  • Teeth or mouths
  • Red wine
  • Cutlery and utensils, especially knives
  • Anatomically correct hearts
  • Love-related imagery


Film and Television[]

  • Ravenous (1999)
  • Hannibal (NBC) (2013-2015)
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
  • Silence of the Lambs (1991)
  • Bones and All (2022)
  • Jennifer's Body (2009)
  • Raw (2016)
  • Fresh (2022)


  • Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica
  • A Certain Hunger by Chelsea G. Summers
  • Hannibal Lecter (series) by Thomas Harris
  • Lapvona by Ottessa Moshfegh
  • Exquisite Corpse by Poppy Z. Brite

Video Games[]

  • Saya no Uta: The Song of Saya


  • Eat Your Young by Hozier
  • Cannibal by Kesha
  • The Red Means I Love You by Madds Buckley
  • Flesh by Simon Curtis
  • Saccharine by Jazmin Bean
  • Breezeblocks by alt-J
  • LIGHT SHOWER by Melanie Martinez
  • Tear You Apart by She Wants Revenge
  • Breakfast by Dove Cameron