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Iconography of Suffering in Social Media: Images of Sitting Girls

  • Anna Johansson
  • Hans T. Sternudd
Chapter
Part of the Social Indicators Research Series book series (SINS, volume 56)

Abstract

This paper examines the online iconography of mental suffering by using the visual trope of a hunched-over sitting girl as a case in point. By analyzing images of sitting girls found in YouTube video montages on self-harm, and also tracking their further online existence through image search engines, we suggest that the popularity of this trope stems from its generic character, through which the girl can be read simultaneously as docile and as actively refusing to engage with the world around her. While not new in itself, the trope is circulated and put to use in new ways through social media with an emphasis on remixing and visual communication. We argue that media-specific features, together with gender and mental health discourses, enable particular representations and aesthetic styles that may both reinforce and alleviate suffering.

Keywords

Mental suffering Mental illness Social media Digital media Image Gender Girl Young femininity Remix Emotion YouTube 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.HUMlabUmeå UniversityUmeåSweden
  2. 2.Department of Music and Art, Faculty of Art History and Visual CultureLinnaeus UniversityVäxjöSweden

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