- TikTok has produced a number of viral trends and memes over the past year, and that includes the rise of the e-girl and e-boy.
- E-girls and e-boys are the newest community emerging from the ever-online Gen Z: Teens who shirk the mainstream, manicured Instagram aesthetic for a grungy vibe and a love of video games.
- These aesthetics have become so popular that they topped Google’s roundup of the top trending fashion and outfit search terms in 2019.
- Here’s what you should know about the subculture of e-girls and e-boys that have emerged on social media in the wake of the era of influencers.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The perfected Instagrammable influencer has met her match: the TikTok e-girl.
The e-girl’s emergence this year has corresponded with the rise of TikTok, the short-form video app Generation Z turns to for its latest viral memes and internet entertainment. Thousands of TikTok videos tagged with #egirl show girls with thick eyeliner and dyed hair and guys in beanies wearing belt chains – teens who have embraced an aesthetic separate from the VSCO girls and hipsters sporting Supreme and streetwear.
The e-girl (and e-boy) are just the latest iteration of mainstream counterculture, similar to the emo and scene kids who posted grainy pictures on Tumblr in the 2000s. These e-teens live on the internet and are fluent in the latest video games, and their goal is to push the boundaries, in spite of what parents and older generations may think.
The popularity of e-girls and e-boys has become such a staple of 2019 culture that they were among the most popular Google search terms for fashion- and outfit-related queries, according to Google’s annual “Year in Search” report.
Here’s everything you need to know about the e-girl, Gen Z’s radical antithesis of the Instagram influencer:
The e-girl is, simply, the modern-day scene girl: Both were created as a counterculture to the mainstream aesthetic and standards of beauty. They are tuned into video games, as well as in internet slang on online platforms like Discord and YouTube.
The basic look of the e-girl and e-boy can be broken down with this starter pack, a group of typical items these teens are frequently found with or associated with.
An e-girl or e-boy is commonly sporting:
- Dyed hair: Frequently, hair is dyed 50-50 between two colours. Sometimes, in pigtails.
- Heavy black eyeliner: Dark, thick, winged eyeliner, and sometimes also applied right below each eye to make tiny shapes or icons.
- Pink blush on nose and cheeks, and maybe some intense highlighter.
- Jewellery: Septum or another facial piercing, and an O-ring collar or chain necklace.
- Part anime-, part goth-inspired clothing: Long layered shirts (perhaps a band t-shirt over a striped long sleeve) or a crop top, belt-loop chains, and A-line skirts or high-waisted cargo pants.
- Sad, moody music: Think Billie Eilish, or Twenty One Pilots
The term “e-girl” started off as a derogatory term, used by men to objectify women who they saw as simply looking for male attention online. The first entry of “egirl” on slang-tracking website Urban Dictionary is from June 2009, and it paints a stark picture compared to what e-girl has come to mean today.
Another Urban Dictionary user-submitted definition of e-girl from 2014 referred to her as an “internet slut” who flirts with guys online for attention. Some may point toward notable Instagram stars like Belle Delphine – who capitalised on the “thirsty gamer boys” willing to pay $US30 for a bottle of her bathwater – as a symbol of the first wave of the e-girl.
However, a new type and definition of e-girl has risen in the last year.
E-girls got a lot more attention in the summer of 2019 after the murder of Bianca Devins, a 17-year-old teen who was allegedly killed by a man she knew online from Instagram and Discord. Much attention was put on Devins’ online life as part of the e-girl community, where other teens have shared that they’re regularly harassed, threatened, and scared they could be stalked or doxxed in real life.
E-girls rose into the mainstream in 2019 thanks to TikTok, the short-form video app known as a launching pad for Gen Z’s favourite memes and viral trends. On TikTok, videos tagged with #egirl have more than 1.4 billion views. E-girls and e-boys have established themselves with hundreds of thousands of followers, while others have capitalised solely on parodying the e-girl aesthetic.
Some have attributed the roots of the e-girl to Tumblr, where a sad and moody aesthetic for the sad and moody teens reigned supreme in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Both eras are defined by teens spending time alone in their rooms, from which a lot of their online content is created.
The e-girl aesthetic draws from characteristics of anime, where female characters are often skimpily dressed and fetishised as innocent, helpless victims. One TikToker referred to this as the “I’m Baby” quality in a story for Vox.
If you’re not familiar with the “I’m Baby” phrase, it’s a popular line used in memes across the internet to be used by someone who’s incapable or in need of help, or a reason for being unable to get something done.
The terms e-girl and e-boy aren’t necessarily used as gender-specific terms. Instead, they’re used to refer to two different type of aesthetics: While the e-boy is a vulnerable “softboi” and embraces skate culture, the e-girl is cute and seemingly innocent.
Accordingly, the e-girl concept has spurred its own parodies and memes. You’ll find teens in TikToks entering “e-girl factories” or drinking “e-girl juice,” which magically transforms them into a stereotypical e-girl.
Ultimately, the e-girl and the e-boy are the anti-influencers. “Scene girls and emo girls were a counter to the preppy, Juicy Couture look of the era (see: Paris Hilton) the way e-girls may be a counter to the polished, Facetuned Instagram influencer,” BuzzFeed wrote about e-girls.
Source: BuzzFeed News
The Canadian singer Grimes may be the closest the e-girl gets to celebrity status: she’s dating tech CEO (and internet troll) Elon Musk, frequently dyes her hair, and produces music that’s been described as the “kind of music you imagine a group of vampires would listen to if this group of vampires also happened to be on a cheerleading squad.”
It only seems fitting that at the singer Grimes was chosen to perform at the 2019 Game Awards, which celebrates the best of the video game industry.
Source: Wall Street Journal
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There’s probably no coincidence that e-girls rose in popularity hand-in-hand with the VSCO girl, the ultra-hipster, ocean-loving teen who found her home on a photo-editing, aesthetic-building app. Where the VSCO girl may be bright and bubbly, the e-girl is quiet and moody.
The e-girl’s influence on 2019 culture was solidified when Google released its annual “Year in Search” report. The end-of-year review showed that e-girls and e-boys were among the top trending fashion- and outfit-related search terms on Google this year.
Source: Business Insider