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The lobotomy chic aesthetic focuses on exploring femininity through meta-irony, detachment, and nihilism. It is also heavily influenced by different early 2000’s aesthetics such as Indie Sleaze and Americana, as well as tumblr nostalgia from the early 2010’s. It is mostly used by girls who feel empowered by detaching from reality and acting as though apathetic and mysterious.

The name was coined by writer Rayne Fisher-Quann on her article “The cult of the dissociative pout”. The term is a combination of “heroin chic”- which glamourizes an unhealthy and deathly, detached style, and lobotomy- a procedure that was executed on mental patients during the 1950’s and caused them to act mentally detached and out of place. (many of the lobotomy-chic girls jokingly state how they need to get this procedure, pointing at the aesthetic’s twisted-dark-humor nature.)

What distinguishes this aesthetic from other online-feminine aesthetics is the focus on apathy and “not caring” as a means of being powerful and attractive; Instead of characterizing yourself as a strong, bossy woman (for example, like the waif aesthetic) or contrarily to that, showing femininity through being delicate and soft, the lobotomy chic aesthetic doesn’t practice either, and instead it’s main goal is to come across as broad and undefinable as possible, you act uninterested and unbothered to maintain the same performance of powerfulness and independence but in a different manner. As Fisher-Quann writes: ”[Lobotomy-chic] still cares about being sexy, but knows there’s nothing sexy about caring too much. And in times of discord, chaos, and fear, a cultural descent into nihilism makes sense.”[1]

Visuals

Fiona Apple is also considered an influence on this aesthetic. Both musically and visually.


Due to it's focus on broadness and obscurity, it's hard to precisely define the aesthetic visually, though it is recognizable due to its tendency to appear "niche". Usually, lobotomy-chic references 90’s, early 2000’s, and even early 2010’s aesthetics- by the use of flash photography, wearing messy/no makeup, preppy clothes styled in an unorganized manner, and Catholic/Christian symbolism (mostly used ironically). The visuals of this aesthetic will mostly focus on places/fashion/pictures that feel “out of place” and esoteric (for example- preppy school girls photographed in liminal spaces), to enhance the effect of dissociation.

Notably, a specific style of photography plays a major role in this aesthetic. Usually there will be use of flash photography, obscure settings and irrelevant objects, feminine clothing, messy hair and makeup accompanied by the pose of the "dissociated pout" or an eye roll - looking uninterested and effortless, like you weren't aware of the photograph being taken. There's a tendency to look numb, almost as if you were really lobotomized.

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Philosophy

As stated before, the motive of the aesthetic is to act detached and uninterested in our reality. The main goal is to be as effortlessly sexy as possible. This attitude is usually derived from a nihilistic approach to life, which is also a key value of this aesthetic- you're detaching from reality since there's no meaning to it and nothing good about it. Ironically, this article about the aesthetic itself doesn’t match the aesthetic’s values of vagueness and irony; since acknowledging it and showcasing it as a structured style that can be performed in a certain way, reduces it’s purpose of effortlessness and undefined-ness.

Media

Movies

  • The Virgin Suicides (1999)
  • Saint Maud (2019)
  • Girl, Interrupted (1999)
  • Trouble Every Day (2001)
  • Sucker Punch (2011)

TV

  • Daria (1997)
  • Euphoria (2019)
  • Ratched (2020)
  • Twin Peaks (1990)

Books

  • My Year of Rest and Relaxation - Otessa Moshfegh
  • The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
  • Diary of an Oxygen Thief-Anonymous
  • The Stranger-Albert Camus
  • No Longer Human-Osamu Dazai

Music

Artists

  • FIona Apple
  • Mazzy Star
  • Hole
  • Lana Del Rey
  • Alice Glass
  • Mars Argo
  • Elita
  • PJ Harvey
  • Mitski
  • Feist

Playlists

Gallery

References

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