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

By Malavika Pradeep

Feb 24, 2021

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There are 589 internet aesthetics till date on Aesthetics Wiki. After dark academia, softboys and egirls, we at Screen Shot 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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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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Loudcore

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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Stickercore

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


By Malavika Pradeep

Feb 24, 2021

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What is dark academia? Here’s everything you need to know about the new TikTok subculture

By Malavika Pradeep

Jan 19, 2021

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It’s 2021, and you happen to have a tremendous amount of free time due to being holed up in your apartment. You decide to whip up a new subculture from scratch. The subculture then moves on to gather a cult-like following with its own Wikipedia page and sellers on Depop, which you didn’t really expect.

This is the typical itinerary for viral TikTok trends over the lockdown. Phenomena like soft boys and egirls have become TikTok’s latest excuse to keep viewers engaged within the confines of their own home.

So what’s up with TikTok’s recent obsession with boarding schools, tweed jackets and Vivaldi? Let’s start by breaking down various realms of this brooding aesthetic.

What is dark academia?

Dark academia is an aesthetic that romanticises classic literature with a passion for knowledge and learning. Stemmed from European culture, it targets nostalgia for the 19th and early 20th century private schools in England. Followers of dark academia are drawn to greek architecture, ancient arts and mythology.

The aesthetic was first picked up by TikTok users between the age of 15 and 25 as a response to the physical shutdown of schools and colleges during the pandemic. The trend, which is credited with over 400 million views on TikTok and 400,000 posts on Instagram, brings students studying from home a sense of community that they once found at school.

While the aesthetic is not inherently negative, it has come under scrutiny for alleged encouragement of nihilism, classist attitudes, caffeine addiction and insomnia. However, the aesthetic which started out on Tumblr has now evolved into a subculture where followers mutually suggest books, movies and music along with study tips and fashion inspiration.

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Une publication partagée par DARK ACADEMIA🌙 (@academia_aesthetics)

What do dark academics wear?

Major fashion inspirations for dark academia revolve around the 1940s prep school uniforms—tweed blazers, plaid skirts, black turtlenecks and argyle sweaters are often paired with oxford shoes, knee-high socks and wire-rimmed glasses. Black, brown and tan are the go-to colours for dark academics.

While the trend heavily relies on thrift stores and second-hand finds, dark academics on Tumblr often recommend brands like Ralph Lauren, Brandy Melville, COS and Uniqlo to help nail the look.

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Une publication partagée par 𝚍𝚊𝚛𝚔 𝚊𝚌𝚊𝚍𝚎𝚖𝚒𝚊 | 𝚏𝚊𝚜𝚑𝚒𝚘𝚗 𝚋𝚕𝚘𝚐 (@dark.academia.fashion)

What are their hobbies?

Think about what teens at Ivy League did during their free time in the 19th century. Now switch that up with modern-day video games and crafts.

Apart from chess and rummy, dark academics adore video games like The Last Door, Bully and Hitman. They are self-taught knitters, painters and gardeners. An ideal outing for them includes museums, art galleries, libraries and graveyards—remember: yes, they’re intellectuals but they’re also edgy. They love writing poems, reading philosophy, playing an instrument and practising calligraphy. A necessary sight in a dark academic’s room consists of stacked books, cups of tea and antique postcards written with ink.

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Une publication partagée par Dark Academia (@dxrkacademia)

What do they read and watch?

You can probably guess some of the authors and directors dark academics would love. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, A Study In Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle, The Shakespeare Secret by Jennifer Lee Carrell are some must-reads before initiation into the subculture. The works of Scott F. Fitzgerald, Maya Angelou and Edgar Allan Poe are also well appreciated along with other authors of classic literature.

Dead Poets Society, Pride and Prejudice, Mona Lisa Smile, Hugo, and The Great Gatsby list among the top five movies to watch while TV shows include Brideshead Revisited, Sherlock, A Series of Unfortunate Events and The Queen’s Gambit.

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Une publication partagée par DARK ACADEMIA🌙 (@academia_aesthetics)

What are some of the sub-genres of the aesthetic?

Light academia

An aesthetic that is the emotional opposite of dark academia. It consists of lighter themes and visuals. Keeping the love for classic literature, art and history of dark academia intact, this sub-genre focuses on enjoying the little things in life.

Art academia

The aesthetic revolves around the love for art, sculptures, paintings, photography and calligraphy. It has similar roots in learning and interests as dark academia but is unique for its focus on visual arts.

Chaotic academia

This academic movement intends to normalise haphazard routines, messy habits and banned literature. In comparison to other sub-genres, chaotic academia primarily focuses on learning without any considerations for fashion and appearance.

Darkest academia

Also known as gothic academia, the sub-genre is a serious and mature take on dark academia. It focuses on gothic studies, art and literature, aiming to find beauty in the darkest of places.

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Une publication partagée par — 𝓛. (@pearlyswan)

How do you date a dark academic?

Dark academia has a dedicated LGBTQ+ following and Tumblr features millions of posts on how to date a dark academic.

Write them letters and seal the envelopes with fancy wax seals,” writes one user. “Quote Shakespeare, listen to their 3 am rants on how we could’ve heard Oscar Wilde’s voice if he’d had lived just a tad longer,” a second one comments. Another silences the thread with “just tell them you’ll get your own little library if you move in together.”

What is dark academia? Here’s everything you need to know about the new TikTok subculture


By Malavika Pradeep

Jan 19, 2021

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