Trigger Warning: This article has a focus on the very sensitive topics of abuse and PTSD. If this sort of content has the potential to be triggering to you, please turn back from this page and go to another page. Viewer discretion is advised. For a list of hotlines, please refer to the "Resources" section.
Traumacore is a type of imagery that delves into the themes of abuse and trauma (particularly sexual trauma or CSA). But it's not strictly limited to physical or sexual abuse. Mental, emotional, and spiritual abuse are also common themes as it pertains to Traumacore. It often draws heavily on childlike and angelic themes done so as a means to try and reclaim their innocence. Many people turn to these images to help them cope with the pain they suffered in the past. While traumacore isn't inherently an aesthetic, many of the images used in its photo or video edits come from other aesthetics. Traumacore is more of a type of art therapy or visual journaling.
Traumacore often intersects with Weirdcore. Weirdcore is an aesthetic focused on motifs considered jarring or bizarre.
It is frowned upon to participate in traumacore if you are not a survivor of some kind of trauma yourself, as it is considered fetishization of a very serious issue. Trauma consumes many people's lives. Traumacore can be of use as a coping mechanism for those who need it. However, like any kind of coping mechanism, it should not be a stand-in for proper treatment, like therapy or medication.
Many traumacore edits have negative words or phrases in them (ex: "I am broken", "I will never be clean", "you used me", "rotten child", "please stop", "you ruined me"), but that does not mean that the creator is encouraging others to feel this way. Instead, it is only a reflection of how the creator feels about themselves. Having a way of getting these thoughts out onto a screen or paper can be helpful, as it puts feelings into a visual form that is easier to understand.
Traumacore draws upon a delicate, childlike but implicitly disturbing aesthetic, and aims to blend the unsettling with the innocent. Dolls, angels, bedrooms, and corpses are common motifs used.
There is often a contrast between the imagery and the text in a traumacore visual (for example, one might put a disturbing message under a photo of a porcelain doll or a children's cartoon).
Many of those who enjoy traumacore are also fond of the "rotting aesthetic": imagery of bugs, dirt, and mold are often incorporated to represent this theme. It is also common for traumacore aesthetics to reference religious themes (such as crosses, angels, and mentions of Heaven or Hell).
Traumacore aesthetics are generally soft or girlish, though this is not always the case (for example, male followers of traumacore tend to employ more masculine colors and themes).
Many traumacore edits also include nostalgic imagery, as people's trauma happens very often during childhood. Some examples of this are Sanrio characters (like Hello Kitty), children's bedrooms, playgrounds, and other places and things relevant to childhood.
Happeycore is the supporting version of this aesthetic. It uses images to help one cope.
Before the advent of naming aesthetics with the suffix -core, Academia, etc., the tumblr community found their aesthetics through combining various tags, such as #creepy, #cute, #vintage, etc. As such, this aesthetic was generally unnamed, but had a very specific look that shows that it was directly related to traumacore. The aesthetic was popular, and even possibly based on, the female music artist Nicole Dollanganger, who is not as emphasized in today's traumacore community.
The aesthetic had the same premise of traumacore; users would contrast delicate and sweet imagery with dark subject matter relating to depression, suicide, eating disorders, child sexual abuse, religious abuse, and abusive relationships. However, multiple tropes associated with traumacore today was largely absent. Sanrio edits and weirdcore imagery did not appear, and there was more explicit material such as gore, pornography implying child sexual assault, and images of self-harm. The aesthetic also differed slightly from modern traumacore in that it utilized more medical horror, Southern Gothic, and Victorian imagery such as medical instruments and textbooks, disturbing larvae and butterfly-like monsters, conjoined twins, and daguerreotypes. Horror movie imagery such as Ouija boards, female ghosts, porcelain dolls, and serial killer-dressed men standing ominously was also popular, and the best way to describe the aesthetic is "victim if a horror movie villain." A lot of this overlapped with Cult Party Kei, a fashion that spread to America at that time.
The people who participated in "vintage creepy cute" were also subject to the discourse surrounding modern traumacore. However, many participated in pro-ana (encouragement of eating disorders), framing self-harm as beautiful, and even reblogging images of child porn. So, the criticism that this aesthetic romanticized trauma and abuse was largely justified. Many accounts however, largely stayed with art and innocent photographs.
It is admittedly hard to research this aesthetic, as many accounts are dead because of tumblr's crackdown on gore, pornography, eating disorder promotion, and bans on popular tags such as #lolita. These account owners also possibly recovered from their mental illnesses and left the community, leaving other people to find them and start their new accounts that became today's traumacore. This section was largely written by memories of the community, so it can be debated and new information will be welcome.
Traumacore fashion is often soft and angelic and has a heavy focus on bringing attention to mental health issues or an inherent sadness that lies within the wearer.
- Nicole Dollanganger ("Mean", "Dog Teeth", "Angels of Porn", "Uncle", "Ghosts", "Valley of the Dead" )
- Lana del Rey ("Carmen", "1949", "Ultraviolence")
- Marina and the Diamonds ("Teen Idle", "Living Dead", "Valley of the Dolls")
- Alice Glass ("I Trusted You")
- Jazmin Bean ("Hello Kitty")
- The Neighborhood ("Daddy Issues")
- Joji ("Pills")
- Shiloh Dynasty ("Father Forgive Me")
- Allie X ("Bitch")
- Weathers ("Happy Pills")
- Kero Kero Bonito ("I'd rather sleep")
- Lincoln (" Saint Bernard")
- Jack Stauber ("Bumblebees Are Out")
- Possibly In Michigan ("Animal Cannibal")
- girl in red ("summer depression")
- Blank Banshee ("Teen Pregnancy")
- Korn ("Daddy")
- AJJ ("Daddy didn't love me" )
- Nine Inch Nails ("Piggy", "Closer", "Hurt")
- Bowie Bugs (“Baby Teeth”, “Hey Bunny”)
- traumacore Spotify playlist by zack / bright
- traumacore 🍓☁️✨ Spotify playlist by 🌸 wren 🌸
- hello kitty traumacore<3 Spotify playlist by mehwish :)
- salt burns the wound Spotify playlist by ☆
- traumacore Spotify playlist by b⚰️
- you stole everything from me Spotify playlist by ?¿?¿
- emptycore 💀✨ Spotify playlist by hamomg
- mmmmmmmmm Spotify playlist by battery
- my traumacore >:3 Spotify playlist by emil
- traumacore baby Spotify playlist by Amoreth
- traumacore/weirdcore ❤️ Spotify playlist by luna ♡
- traumacore Spotify playlist by urszvlia
- traumacore. Spotify playlist by skully
- Venting and/or having a blog dedicated to coping with your traumas
- Making disturbing aesthetics or visuals
- Collecting dolls, stuffed animals or other childlike trinkets
- Writing sad poetry
- Baking or cooking, particularly sweet things like cupcakes, cookies & cake.
- Playing the piano or flute
- Painting, drawing or any other form of creating expression (particularly as a venting device)
- Ballet dancing
- Growing flowers in your garden
- Consuming media or playing games targeted at children
- Rika (Mystic Messenger)
- Kotoko Utsugi (Danganronpa: Ultra Despair Girls)
- Betty Cooper (Riverdale)
- Kanna Kizuchi (Your Turn to Die)
- Shoto Todoroki (My Hero Academia)
- Butters Stotch (South Park)
One of the main arguments against traumacore is its romanticization of mental illness. In depicting depression, eating disorders, sexual abuse, etc. as beautiful concepts, people who appreciate the aesthetic may seek out these kinds of experiences, which would endanger their health and invalidate the experiences of people who are traumatized and would not want anyone to mimic their experience. For people who have been traumatized, this aesthetic can cause people to center their identity around these negative emotions and hinder attempts at recovery and developing a personality beyond what they were like while experiencing trauma. Different visuals can also trigger a person into past behaviors because of the desire for beauty, such as survivors of eating disorders relapsing after being constantly exposed images of small and delicate girls.
It has been said not to add Sanrio and Hello Kitty related tags on traumacore posts because kids and people who are not comfortable with seeing traumacore may be scrolling through these topics.
If you or a loved-one has dealt with trauma of any kind, please feel free to use the list below. Remember that there is always help available, and that you are not alone.
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If you can't find your country on this list, you may try to look through the list of hotlines from Wikipedia.