Trigger warning: This article has a heavy focus on topics of drugs, eating disorders, slurs, and mental illness. If this sort of content has the potential to be triggering to you, please turn back from this page and go to another page.
Cigarette Waif is a type of blogger who posts content relating to an ironic image of beauty, wherein the imagery reflects the negative aspects that maintains the aesthetic. Arguably, it can be seen as a continuation of Heroin Chic, and it was influenced by Dark Nymphet, Fairy Grunge, and lolcow culture. In addition to aesthetic images, much of this information comes from memes, whisper confessions, and text posts of things happening within their personal lives.
What distinguishes this aesthetic from the previous aesthetics above is the persona of these bloggers. Rather than portraying themselves as delicate and broken, they put on a confidence and rudeness that shows independence and openness. Specifically, the memes and text posts produced have a flippant or egocentric tone. Slurs such as "retard" and "faggot" are also used often.
This aesthetic first appeared in 2020 on Pinterest, accounts who have had this aesthetic usually have boards dedicated to whispers, certain aesthetics and horror shows
Images of glamorous types of people are one of the most common photo subjects. These are women who carry across the energy of this aesthetic in that they are beautiful but have an unapproachable aura about them. Thin, with either blasé or cheeky expressions, and unglamorous clothing are their common qualities. Supermodels, often Devon Aoki, Kate Moss, and Lily Rose Depp in candid photos with unprofessional lighting and grimy environments are popular.
Ballet is another important visual, specifically those of ballet academies in Russia. Rather than images of performances with full costumes, however, these images always take place during class or independent practice. The colors associated with class uniforms and the setting: black, off-white, pale pink, and gray, fit the color palette.
There are frequent references to having cigarettes and black coffee, which are substitutes for food that have connotations associated with sophistication.
Catholic school imagery is also popular. Schoolgirls in uniform, nuns, Bibles, and rosaries often appear as visuals. In whispers and text posts, these young women often joke about their Catholic upbringing, such as the religious trauma they experienced and the inside jokes that comes with living through similar life experiences. A common slogan is "God's favorite" in describing themselves.
One of the main modes of conveying this aesthetic are whispers, which are from an app of the same name. In them, users have to overlay a confession over an image. Waifs use imagery that matches the aesthetic, and text that communicates the typical thoughts relating to the characteristics of a waif. Word salads are fairly common, and describe the aesthetic in an overwhelming, chaotic way that mimics some prose of authors that these women read.
Outfit moodboards and object collections link the different components of the aesthetic together.
- Girl, Interrupted (1999)
- Jennifer’s Body (2009)
- The Virgin Suicides (1999)
- Buffalo '66 (1998)
- Valley of the Dolls (1967)
- Gossip Girl (2007)
- Pretty Little Liars (2010)
- The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
- The Chic Diet by Kit Olsen
- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
- My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh
- The Secret History by Donna Tartt
- Red Scare (2018)
The music associated with the aesthetic originate mostly from Pale Grunge 2014 tumblr.
- The Arctic Monkeys
- Lana del Rey
- Marina and the Diamonds
- Fiona Apple
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