Attention: the article contains descriptions of photos in which selfharm is simulated using props
“I find it both beautiful and horror. I like to shoot realistic photographs, to surprise, and then show off the work I did to make them look so “real,” says fourteen-year-old Dasha. - I did not add blood to the profile right away: I thought that because of this many complaints would pour in and the account could be blocked. Please do not complain, otherwise the desire to do something disappears altogether. Often in the comments they write that I am “touched”, “fucked up”, that such content is disgusting, they ask why I am doing this. The answer is in my nickname - @prosto_tupo_ya_tak_hochu. " She paints the eyeballs, inserts objects under the eyelid and does other, not the most pleasant, in her own words, manipulations with the right eye. Dasha is far from the only one who imitates blood and damage in her own photographs - and judging by the growing number of similar accounts and subscribers, this attracts a lot of people.
Text: Irina Kuzmicheva
Of course, scary visuals are not an invention of modern culture. Long before the advent of cinema and, moreover, Instagram, there were enough images of violence in different eras and among different nations: from Christian icon painting to performances by Marina Abramovich. Over the past eight years, TV shows like Game of Thrones and American Horror Story have changed the way violent scenes appear on television and on the Internet, making fictional violence more attractive and mesmerizing than ever before to many.
Not only the plot, the acting and the offscreen music, but also the make-up help the audience to scream out of fear. The pioneer of SFX makeup (SFX stands for "special effects") is Jack Pearce, Universal's head makeup artist, who designed and created the visuals of monsters for the horror classics of the 1930s: Frankenstein, Dracula and The Mummy. Today, imitation of blood and wounds has reached a new level, and the masters working on it have settled in the main provider of up-to-date visual information - Instagram. SFX make-up artists and body art masters are a separate group of artists specializing in the most believable images of injuries and injuries: severed limbs, lacerations, bruises, burns and more. In addition to the pages of professional makeup artists, from Hollywood specialist Rhonda Cawston (she “shed blood” at Silent Hill 2) to Helen Marger from Ufa, there are many amateur enthusiasts on the Internet for whom SFX aesthetics has become a way of self-expression.
“I'm tired of these perfect Instagram pictures, naked bodies. It's primitive, - says self-taught make-up artist Karina, who has been running the @ peredoz account for the second year. - I started with ordinary make-up, moved on to make-up, because it's cool creativity. It has become my meaning in life and has already found support from ten thousand people. I make images from improvised means, I use paints instead of blood. My audience knows about this, since I show the process of creation in stories. " Karina is nineteen - often such accounts are run by teenagers who, according to them, just like the look of blood, not necessarily real. Clinical psychologist Ekaterina Tarasova connects love of blood and desire for risk with hormonal changes in adolescence; she believes that this can be a way to release negative emotions: "Love for blood, including artificial blood, can be a way to attract attention, a cry about something important - about your fears, for example."
Many people immediately warn that there are make-up in the photos, and not real injuries.Amanda Prescott, a self-taught makeup artist who started working when she was twelve, indicated this disclaimer in her profile header and copies it under every post. Eighteen-year-old Raney from Australia also warns that all the photos are not actually severed or broken limbs, but special makeup.
Many people like to look at
what others think is scary
they like to be afraid
Truth or fiction
Thousands of followers react to "bloody" posts in different ways, ranging from "Wow, you are so talented!" to "Lord, what a nightmare!" Many consider it an art, or at least a serious skill: “It's interesting, although it looks creepy. People spend a lot of time, learning a special make-up, doing it as their hobby or profession,”says one of the subscribers.
Many people like to look at what others find scary, and like to be afraid - just remember how popular horror films are. An explanation of why this is happening can be found in Matthias Klassen, Associate Professor at the School of Communication and Culture at the University of Aarhus in Denmark and author of Why Horror Seduces. “Throughout evolution, humans have learned to enjoy situations that allow negative emotions to be experienced in a safe context. For example, a game of hide and seek is nothing more than a simulation of the interaction of a predator and prey. Thanks to this simulation, the child understands how not to become prey. Children tend to enjoy these games because they give them a safe experience of a potentially catastrophic scenario,”he says. Klassen cites fear of fake danger as one of the sources of pleasure because it helps you deal with real fears and negative emotions - and for this reason, recommends that you start watching horror movies if you don't already.
Key point: the violence we see must be fictional - otherwise it can traumatize the viewer. For example, according to a study published in the Journal of Media Psychology, three factors are drawn to horror movies and any scary depiction of people. The first is the tension generated by uncertainty, shock, blood; the second is relevance, that is, cultural or personal significance; and the third - confidence in the unreality of events. Among the works on which author Glenn Walters builds his theory is research by the Pennsylvania Department of Psychology. In it, scientists showed study participants documentaries depicting real scenes of animal cruelty and video footage of a child's surgical operation. Viewers had the opportunity to turn off the films at any time - ninety percent of the students did this, most often they turned off the film around the middle, the rest watched the finale, but found the picture disgusting and disturbing. And all this despite the fact that many are probably watching more bloody and brutal horror and action films, although the authors of the study did not ask them about it.
Fake cuts can cause a wide variety of reactions -
to curiosity if they are real
There are several theories that explain why we are attracted to horror movies - perhaps the most well-known and researched side of horror aesthetics. Some believe that fear is also a metaphor for what scares us in reality (for example, zombies can be a symbol of horror before epidemics), others that horror films help to experience catharsis, others that we are fascinated by the violation of the usual course of things and norms on the screen … Another possible answer explaining why we like horror movies more than scenes of real violence, which can be extended to horror images on Instagram, is precisely in the deliberate unreality of what is happening. The fictional nature of the intimidating plots gives viewers a sense of control, due to the psychological distance between them and the actions they witness.
This same distance works in the context of other modes of communication, helping to draw the line between a work of art (or a post on social media) and an actual depiction of self-harm. But if theatrical makeup or make-up for Halloween is easy to distinguish from real injuries, then when you see fake cuts, a variety of reactions can arise - from disgust to curiosity if they are real. Separating reality from imitation is often difficult - just like checking how true the disclaimer is.
In controversial situations, a third-party mediator plays an important role - for example, a platform with its own rules, on which content is published. Oddly enough, Instagram is more loyal to such forms of self-expression than to posts with naked body parts. The representative of the external press service of Instagram in Russia, Maria Berezina, as an example of the company's policy regarding selfharma, cites a post on the company's blog: "We do not prevent the posting of content that would speak of intentions or facts of self-harm." According to experts consulted by Instagram, including representatives from the UK Mental Health Center and the US National Nonprofit for Suicide Prevention SAVE, this kind of content will help people attract and get the help they need. “The experts confirmed that it is extremely important to create 'safe zones' for young people on the Internet, where they can talk about their experiences, including the intention to harm themselves. They believe that being able to share this kind of content often helps people find support and resources that can save lives,”the same blog said.
However, since the same content can provoke different reactions, Instagram believes that it is necessary to be more careful about such content and its impact on viewers. Therefore, experts agreed that a naturalistic depiction of scenes of self-harm, even if it reflects a person's inner struggles and experiences, can inadvertently popularize such actions. “It is for this reason that Instagram no longer allows the posting of naturalistic scenes of self-harm,” Berezina broadcasts the company's official position. The company declined to comment on SFX makeup, not real self-harm, but many of the bloggers interviewed say their posts are regularly deleted, as they would with images of real injuries. In addition, often such photos are hidden by the label "potentially inappropriate": it is used for posts that do not violate the rules of the community, but which some users considered unacceptable - everyone will have to decide for themselves whether to open the post.
Does this mean that the social network remains a sterile space, free from any images reminiscent of self-harm - real or imitation? Most likely no. You can restore a blocked account or create a new one, re-upload deleted photos. As is often the case, the problem is not solved by prohibitions and restrictions, but by the opportunity to openly and safely for all participants to talk about what is happening - and about the potential consequences.
Does not hurt
Dasha assures that by inserting a pin into her eye, she did not hurt herself or pierce anything: “I am not ready to leave scars for the sake of a photo - it is foolish to injure myself for the sake of a picture or likes. I always write in the comments that this is fake blood and that it should not be repeated. Then everyone decides for himself what to do. " Eleventh-grader Masha @maaruu_u_ also doubts that someone else may perceive imitation of wounds as a call to self-harm. “I've seen a lot of profiles that contain really horrible photos with real disabilities. Someone admires this, someone is horrified,”she says.Masha herself has a negative attitude towards such content: “To be honest, in reality I do not get high from bloody scenes and dismemberment. Most likely, because in all my photos the blood is fake and I do not take it seriously. I think there are no posts in my profile that can push me to self-harm - besides, everyone has their own head on their shoulders and everyone chooses for himself what to do and what not. In my photos there is only aesthetic content, hardly anyone will find in them a call to do something with themselves,”says the blogger. Karina agrees with this point of view and is also sure that a theatrical image, like watching horror films, cannot provoke a desire to make real cuts: "I am not promoting self-harm, but creativity."
“And yet there is a possibility that scenes of aggression can be traumatic for those who look at them,” says Ekaterina Tarasova. - Some will be afraid of the sight of wounds and blood, this will stop them from destructive actions. And other people with a mental disorder or depression cannot be stopped by repulsive shots from aggression directed at themselves or others. " Sixteen-year-old Nastya agrees with this - she practices selfharm and believes that during difficult periods it is better to avoid any triggers: “Even the most terrible makeup, like a cut throat or leaky brains, does not make me want to try something like that. Obviously, this is makeup, it’s not real. Cuts on the hands, punctures in the skin are another matter. Although they have never been a call to me for immediate action, they increase my general feeling of anxiety if I see them as I scroll through the tape. Once I even found a 'hint' there."
In cases of real self-harm of adolescents, according to an expert psychologist, the role of a competent and tactful adult is important. Ekaterina Tarasova believes that parents should be aware of what is happening with the child in order to help him in time - but in any case, one should not criticize and forbid. “I think that the bans will lead the teenager to continue to behave the same way. Adults should express concern, but make it clear that it's up to you,”says the clinical psychologist. If we are really talking about the manifestations of auto-aggression, and not self-expression using SFX makeup, you should seek help from a specialist.
If this is really only creativity, it makes sense to follow the advice of Matthias Klassen and try to see in a frightening way to cope with your own fears. True, Ekaterina Tarasova warns that bloody pictures do not help everyone: “This method is called the method of systematic desensitization of behavioral therapy by Joseph Volpe: when faced with a frightening stimulus, the fear response gradually decreases. But this method is practiced under the supervision of a specialist. When it comes to social media, such photos stimulate anxiety, which means that the reaction may be the opposite: the fear will intensify or appear rather than disappear. But, of course, not all: there are people with a strong psyche who can observe terrible pictures and not be afraid. " Ekaterina Tarasova notes that adolescents are sensitive and receptive, and therefore can not only get scared, but also repeat what they see. “Therefore, on the one hand, SFX make-up can lead to the idea of self-harm. On the other hand, if a person decides to commit suicide, he will do it without the help of a photo on Instagram,”she adds.
PHOTOS: berdsigns - stock.adobe.com (1, 2, 3, 4)