Trigger warning: This article has a focus on 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. The comments are also a space many people use to vent, and people describe the trauma they experience. Please avoid this article's comments section if this topic troubles you.
Traumacore is a type of imagery that delves into the themes of abuse and trauma (particularly sexual trauma or CSA), though 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 are derived 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 the participant is not a survivor of some kind of trauma themselves, 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"), which reflects on the creator/participant's feelings 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 character from children's media).
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.
Happycore is the supportive version of this aesthetic. It uses images to help one cope.
Morute: Traumacore's Predecessor
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 were 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.
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.
skirts and dresses may be used anything that would mask the emotions inside by looking cute and innocent.
- Nicole Dollanganger ("Mean", "Dog Teeth", "Angels of Porn", "Uncle", "Ghosts", "Valley of the Dead" )
- Lana del Rey ("Carmen", "1949", "Ultraviolence")
- Melanie Martinez ("Cry Baby", "Soap")
- 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", "The Beach")
- Joji ("Pills", "World$tar Money")
- Shiloh Dynasty ("Father Forgive Me")
- Allie X ("Bitch")
- Weathers ("Happy Pills", "I'm not okay")
- Kero Kero Bonito ("I'd rather sleep", "Make Believe")
- Lincoln ("Saint Bernard")
- Jack Stauber ("Bumblebees Are Out", "The Ballad of Hamantha", "Two Time", "Oh Klahoma!")
- Possibly In Michigan ("Animal Cannibal", "The Perfume Song")
- girl in red ("summer depression", "dead girl in the pool", "i'll die anyway", "4 am)
- Blank Banshee ("Teen Pregnancy")
- Korn ("Daddy")
- AJJ ("Daddy didn't love me", "Body Terror Song")
- Nine Inch Nails ("Piggy", "Closer", "Hurt")
- Bowie Bugs (“Baby Teeth”, “Hey Bunny”)
- Sitcom ("Still Life")
- 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 🪲
- traumacore/weirdcore ❤️ Spotify playlist by luna ♡
- you stole everything from me Spotify playlist by ?¿?¿
- emptycore 💀✨ Spotify playlist by hamomg
- mmmmmmmmm Spotify playlist by Teddie
- my traumacore >:3 Spotify playlist by emil
- traumacore baby Spotify playlist by Amoreth
- traumacore Spotify playlist by urszvlia
- traumacore. Spotify playlist by skully
- Venting and/or having a blog/posts dedicated to coping with trauma
- 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 one's garden
- Consuming media targeted at children (video games, TV shows, etc.)
One of the main arguments against traumacore is its romanticization and aestheticzation of mental illness and abuse. 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, traumacore imagery 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 the viewer into past behaviors because of the desire for beauty, such as survivors of eating disorders relapsing after being constantly exposed to images of small and delicate girls.
It has been said not to add Sanrio-related tags on traumacore posts because kids and people who are not comfortable with seeing traumacore imagery 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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- Philippines (911)
- Poland (112)
- Russia (112)
- United States (1-800-237-8255)
- UK (999 or 111)
If you can't find your country on this list, you may try to look through the list of hotlines on Wikipedia.