What is kidcore? Here’s everything you need to know about the latest internet aesthetic

By Malavika Pradeep

Updated Jun 1, 2023 at 11:32 AM

Reading time: 2 minutes

There are 589 internet aesthetics till date on Aesthetics Wiki. After dark academia, softboys and egirls, we at SCREENSHOT believe it’s time to strike another one off the list: kidcore.

What is kidcore?

Kidcore is an aesthetic targeting 90s childhood nostalgia. It includes the use of highly saturated primary colours like red, blue and yellow along with childish themes derived from cartoons like Rugrats and Hello Kitty. Glitters, rainbows, stuffed toys, slinkys and stickers are commonly sported by kidcorists who channel the aesthetic.

Kidcore involves the heavy use of nostalgic patterns and graphics ranging from retro flowers, checkerboards and smiley faces to brand logos of Mattel, Hasbro and Skittles. Lisa Frank is one of the most popular brands for this aesthetic. Apart from primary colours, kidcore can also include pastels and rainbow colours.

As for the fashion aspect of kidcore, preferred clothing includes graphic t-shirts, denim overalls, suspenders, puffy sleeves, sticker-adorned jeans, high-tops and knee-high striped socks. Pair these with some friendship bracelets, chunky Crocs charms, butterfly hair clips and stuffed toys to nail the ultimate kidcore look.


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A post shared by 🌈🛸Dillie🍬🧚🏽 (@candyfae.luv)

Google searches for ‘kidcore’ have hit an all-time high. Nylon notes a 2,439 per cent jump in searches for the term on Etsy in just three months ending September 2020. With Pinterest reporting 9 times increase in year-on-year searches for ‘smiley face nails’ and 6 times increase for ‘butterfly eye makeup’, the aesthetic now has thousands of items and sellers on Depop.

Labelled the ‘extreme extension of normcore’, kidcore is an intriguing cultural shift, stemming from age-regression. A report by Trend Hunter notes the shift as a response to the hypersexualisation of the fashion world and the embracement of youth culture by older generations, forcing millennials to dive deeper into the realm of comfort, function and simple design.

The aesthetic, however, is not all about its style and clothing. Sure, the clothing targets comfort as a nostalgia for simpler times, but it’s also about channeling our 8-year-old carefree mindsets. Kidore hence emphasis on ease, both physically and psychologically.


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Sub-genres of the aesthetic

Kidcore is often confused with other aesthetics like indie, babycore, cartooncore and nostalgiacore. Though these aesthetics have overlapping elements, they are distinct with their motifs and values. Indie, for example, includes the use of bright, saturated colours and filters similar to kidcore but the aesthetic differentiates itself with a focus on individualism, music and skater culture. Now that we’ve established that, let’s look at some sub-genres within kidcore:

Spooky kidcore

Spooky kidcore is a Halloween take on kidcore. Bright, pastel and rainbow colours along with cute cartoon characters of kidcore are mixed with witches, skeletons and jack-o’-lanterns to get this aesthetic.


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A post shared by Ghoulie Ghoup (@ghoodles.doodles)


Loudcore revolves around loud, noisy toys and objects that trigger childhood nostalgia. Key motifs of this sub-genre include bells, fireworks, birthday party or treasure box related items and musical instruments like kazoos.


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A post shared by Anna Kempinska (@kempekprawdziwy)


Do you recall trying out one of those Instagram and Snapchat filters with face stickers? Candies, CareBears, My Little Pony, Sanrio and Lisa Frank’s artworks are commonly featured in stickercore. The sub-genre involves placing these stickers on faces and objects.


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A post shared by Sküg/Newt/Fig/Cameron 💛🤍💜🖤 (@abandoned_clown)

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