Examples of Polyvore sets by Gaylin Laughlin. Used with permission.

At first glance, Polyvore seems like an unlikely place to harbor a community of trauma survivors using art to heal.

Polyvore describes itself as “a new way to discover and shop for the things that you love.”  The main categories on this social commerce website are: “fashion” and “beauty”— somewhat misleading as it appears that attention is being given to all the wrong things. But the tool supporting this prosaic stated purpose—and the true value of the website—resides in the software for managing images, which turns out to be one of the most powerful digital collage engines on the internet. Artists—including many survivors, have put it to good use.

The website is somewhat opaque at first until you discover the “about” button in the lower right-hand corner. Clicking on it reveals the information necessary to explore the site. Especially powerful is the Polyvore Clipper extension which allows access to images from across the web to be used in Polyvore. Any image found on the internet can be saved and archived for use when needed.

Beyond the value of making art is the opportunity to network and receive support from other survivors. One established community is Adult Survivors of Abuse.

Currently this group numbers 299 members, many of whom have severe trauma histories, including DID, as evidenced by the imagery of their sets (image collages).

Polyvore celebrated its eight-year anniversary in February, 2015 with over 20 million unique visitors monthly.


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