Baltimore Insider

MICA student turns cyber-bullying into art

They said she was ugly. Disgusting, even.

They threatened to punch her in her "acne covered face."


They said she was too fat. She needed to eat more. They mocked her armpit hair, her tattoos, her art.

One even wished that she would die.


Maryland Institute College of Art senior Lindsay Bottos responded to the hateful messages sent to her Tumblr account by making them into art.

In a work titled "anonymous," Bottos, 21, juxtaposed the venomous words with simple self portraits. The stark images call attention to the hyperbolic, hypercritical comments which appear all too often in online forums.

"I've been gettting that kind of stuff since I was 13 on Myspace," she said.  "You can get a million nice messages, but that is the one that ruins your day."

The computer screen empowers people to make harsh comments they would likely never say to a person's face, Bottos said.

"The anonymonity allows people to say whatever they want without any consequences," she said. "They want to get a reaction, to bring you down."

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Bottos found she received especially harsh messages when she posted self portraits. The photography major and gender studies minor said she thinks people are quick to shame women on their appearances.

"When you're projecting confidence, it provokes people to keep you down," she said.

Bottos thinks both men and women are guilty of this.


Bottos created the "anonymous" series as a project for her "Photography and the Body" class. She posted some of the images to her Tumblr account on Sunday; they have now received some 90,000 notes on the social networking site.

"I never expected it to blow up," said Bottos. "This piece specifically I view as a work in progress."

More than 20,000 people have started to follow her Tumblr site since the images went up, and she has received thousands of messages about the series, including some from parents whose children have been bullied online.

She plans to continue wrestling with these themes throughout her last semester in college.

"It's sort of tied in with what I'm working on with my thesis," she said. "I definitely plan to explore it further."