Cult of Cute: Visual Inquiry on Cuteness
BFA Thesis 2021

Parsons BFA Website  ︎︎︎

Research ︎︎︎
Why is America so obsessed with all things petite, Asian, and domesticated? What are the critical notions behind cuteness and, through its globalization, how has it evolved through mass consumption? These questions drove my personal investigation into a visual and semantic exploration of cuteness.

Cult of Cute encourages dialogue on the matter, as an aesthetic so harmless in nature becomes equally concerning. It uncovers contextual research that uncovers this aesthetic rooted in escapism, capitolism, and the subversive tools of soft power. The book looks into cultural perspectives, Western and Kawaii cute, and introduces the psychology behind what makes objects cute, referencing Ethologist Konrad Lorenz’s baby schema, or Kindchenschema. Further into the book, the reader can uncover how cute has capitolized all over the world through globalization and hyperconsumption, crawling its way into many industries, like fashion, automobiles, and darker corners of Internet subculture. Inspired by past research, personal writing, and images, this project set out to create a sense of eeriness to reveal cute’s darker undertones, blurring the lines between Cute and Creepy,  and Power and Submission.

What is offered is a more critical perspective on this aesthetic, reflecting upon cute’s overconsumption in capitalism, its oversaturation in our media, and sometimes its harmful incorporation into Asian-American identity politics. Why are we so drawn to cute and how far can it be applied as new definitions continue to emerge?

Immersive yourself into the Uncanny world of Cuteness.


Emily is a graphic designer based in New York. She is available for work & freelance. Feel free to say hi! ︎