TikTok Has Created A Whole New Kind Of Cool Girl
The TikTok opens on a teen girl with half-green, half-black hair, a compact of pink blush in one hand and a brush in the other.
“Don’t worry, I’m not gonna do what everyone thinks I’m gonna do,” says the voiceover, a clip from the 1998 movie Half Baked.
As she mouths along with the words, she cakes the blush on her cheeks and her nose, making her look like she spent too long in the sun.
If you haven’t spent time on the TikTok app, none of that makes any sense. But for those in the know, it’s a perfect encapsulation of egirls — a new kind of cool girl who was born and lives on the platform. She’s funny, she’s cute, she’s totally ’90s, and she knows exactly how to play with expectations.
TikTok lets users make videos up to 15 seconds long, set either to popular music or sounds they upload themselves. That’s why it made a lot of sense when TikTok merged with the app Musical.ly in 2018. TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, is currently considered the world’s most valuable unlisted startup. It now has more than 800 million downloads worldwide.
At first blush, TikTok might look like a lip-syncing app, like Musical.ly was. But its users have evolved it into so much more. TikTok now plays host to memes, trends, and challenges that only exist on the platform. It’s been called the new Vine (RIP), and with good reason.
TikTok is being embraced by a younger generation that snubs Facebook and Twitter but loves Instagram. It’s not only a place for creativity but a place for the exercise of personal branding — a place to highlight your personality or craft one from the ground up. As much as TikTok is about memes, it’s also about just looking cool, being funny, and getting likes.
Somewhere in that mix of teenage yearning for identity and the drive for likes, the egirl was born. And she’s cooler than you.
Egirls have become a very visible demographic on TikTok — and, it appears, only on TikTok — consisting mainly of teenagers. The traits of an egirl are as ironic as they are oddly specific.
The makeup is the most iconic part of the look — thick black eyeliner with wings and cute little shapes drawn with the same eyeliner under the eyes. Usually the shapes are hearts, but sometimes they’re dots or x’s, and they’re drawn with the sure hand of someone who grew up idolizing beauty bloggers. Across the cheeks and nose is a bright sweep of blush, with a touch of highlighter just on the button end, usually sitting above a septum piercing. Lips have either a clear gloss or a dark matte lipstick.
The go-to hairstyle is half-pigtails and maybe a smattering of snap clips at the hairline, if the person isn't wearing a beanie. The color is likely to be unnatural in some way: half-black, half-something-else is a popular option.
The most joked-about look is an oversize band T-shirt over a striped long-sleeve top. On the bottom is either belted high-waist pants or an A-line skirt like the cute girls in animes wear.
Many play video games — they’re not to be confused with “gamer girls,” though — watch anime, and listen to sad songs by Billie Eilish and Lil Peep. Discord is the platform for catching up with fans.
Egirls know what memes are still funny and how to do the dances from Fortnite. PewDiePie’s “Bitch Lasagna” diss track is a familiar earworm.
You can think of them like a modern-day “scene girl” from the mid-aughts. And like scene girls, egirls have a reactionary factor. Scene girls and emo girls were a counter to the preppy, Juicy Couture look of the era (see: Paris Hilton) the way egirls may be a counter to the polished, Facetuned Instagram influencer.
While there are certainly variations, and no one girl embodies every single stereotype, you only need to spend a few moments on TikTok’s For You page to start seeing egirls popping up on your screen.
The egirl has become such a ubiquitous presence on the app that there’s a whole genre of “egirl factory” videos. In these videos, people disappear into a room with that label and are transformed into the aforementioned style. And while these could be seen as mocking the trend, there’s a tone of jealousy and, perhaps, admiration. “If I become an egirl, will I finally get likes?” they ask.
But there’s also the term itself — egirl. It didn’t start on TikTok. The earliest definitions of “egirl” on Urban Dictionary, dating back to 2013, describe them as “internet sluts.” They’re girls who seek out gamer boys, luring them in with good looks and flirtation in hopes of getting their most prized commodity — attention. In short, it’s a misogynist insult born of boys fantasizing that girls who share their hobbies are clamoring for their time and energy.
“Egirl” is yet another entry in a long line of words thrown at young girls to diminish their interests — in this case, video games — and prop up the egos of young men.
But the egirls of TikTok aren’t afraid of the word. Yes, sometimes it’s used ironically, and yes, there are still plenty of people competing to take them down a notch. But TikTok egirls know that they’re popular — their follow counts on the app and their many imitators prove that. They don’t feel insulted. They feel cute, and they feel empowered.
Marley is 16 and lives in Colorado with her parents and 21 pets. On TikTok, she goes by thiccbeefcake69, with the display name “juul rips for jesus.” She has more than 150,000 fans on TikTok, and 2.3 million hearts (the equivalent of a “like”).
“I get called an egirl daily. It’s not that big of a deal to me, because it’s kind of like a title,” she told me.
In her videos, she embraces the ironic humor that defines both TikTok memes and the whole egirl thing, like the one where she defiantly cakes her cheeks and nose in blush. She knows who she is on TikTok, and she knows how to fuck with it.
Irony is a staple of Gen Z humor, even if they’re not always using the word correctly. Meme pages, for example, have given way to ironic meme pages. “Funny” TikTok compilations on YouTube have been replaced with “ironic” ones. What it signals, more than anything, is self-awareness. And Marley has heaps of that.
She got started on the app last October but quickly got discouraged after posting a few videos. “I’ve always suffered with eating disorders and anxiety and depression, and people called me fat and ugly, and it was hard,” she said. She deleted it soon after.
But then she found out one of her videos had blown up to 20,000 likes, and she re-downloaded the app. Her account took off, getting 10,000 followers in just a few days.
“I thought, 'Maybe I have some kind of talent with this,’” she said.
Although she certainly fits into the egirl style, Marley said that’s just the way she’s always dressed, so it’s strange to see it now being cool on TikTok.
Marley grew up online. She had her first YouTube channel when she was 9. Although her TikTok videos are funny and full of app memes, she takes her presence seriously and isn’t afraid to speak her mind.
“I do talk about things” — she discusses transphobia, and how she is bisexual — “like it’s not OK to make transphobic jokes just for clout,” she said.
“People attack me for it but I don’t care, because I feel like if I’m going to have a platform, I want to use it in a way that’s helpful.”
Being a popular girl on the app has downsides. Some users are mean to her, and she gets contacted by older men with inappropriate sexual requests, sometimes offers of money for photos.
“It’s really creepy, because it happens to a lot of my friends,” she said.
Ashley Eldridge, 19, is an art student in Massachusetts who is known as ash.jpg on TikTok. She only got started about two months ago, and she already has 38,000 fans.
“I thought it would be kind of fun and I was joking with my friends, saying, oh, if I dress up as an anime girl, I’ll get famous — and then I did,” she said. “And then it sort of transformed into this whole egirl thing.”
Eldridge’s TikToks are a perfect example of how self-aware some of these girls are. She knows exactly how boys her age react to girls who are popular online, especially to egirls.
“OK, riddle me this, why is it that men get so mad over girls being egirls,” she says in a recent video. “Listen, Jonathan, you’re going to sexualize me anyway, so why can’t I do it for a quick buck on the internet?”
“Sure, being valued and respected by your peers is cool, but do you want to know what’s even cooler?” she says in another video. “Being moderately famous on a kids app.”
There’s a heavy dose of irony in her videos, and they seem part performance, part real, never truly letting you know which it is. And she always keeps up the egirl look.
“That’s all just joking and acting and totally ironic, but I do dress like this every single day, and look like this every single day,” she said.
And she’s received her share of hate on the app for it, mostly from men and boys. Because like every cool girl that’s come before them, egirls are largely hated for daring to be girls getting positive attention and enjoying it. Eldridge pointed out that it just shows the hypocritical, sexist attitude to girls that’s not limited to TikTok.
“I don’t think it’s offensive when people call me an egirl,” she said. “And I don’t think it’s offensive when people comment that I’m looking for attention, because that’s what anyone’s doing on the app.”
Like Marley, she’s gotten gross messages from older men. And, also like Marley, she knows that as much as TikTok users love egirls, the app itself doesn’t always. The girls I spoke with told me they’ve had their videos taken down if they don’t strictly toe the line of what TikTok considers to be family friendly.
“I’ve gotten posts taken down because my skirt went up too much and my shorts showed,” said Eldridge. “If you’re wearing something too revealing, it will be taken down or it won’t get on the For You page.”
For Marley, a video with a short clip of her in the shower — filmed from the neck up to show her washing out hair dye — was enough to get one of her videos taken down.
For all the hate, though, TikTok does provide some protection.
Devan, 19, is from Maryland and goes by Buffi on TikTok. She has 43,000 fans and tags her videos “egirl” when she does the look. She said that because TikTok is so strict, it saves her from getting too much harassment on the app. Rather, people seek out other social media accounts to do that.
“My Snapchat and Instagram are both tied to my TikTok, so I will get photos, and I’ve had people offer me money for things,” she said.
Unlike Marley and Eldridge, Devan said she’s actually seen the egirl look offline, recently, at a concert. But all three teens say the trend wouldn’t be what it is without TikTok.
Whatever created them, egirls have lasted for more than just a blip on TikTok, and they’ve found community in one another. All three teens said they keep posting on TikTok because of the support they’ve received and the connections they’ve made.
Marley said the app has, in fact, changed her life.
“I met my boyfriend on TikTok. I’ve met some of my best friends on there. It’s just funny how it works,” she said. “My life is completely altered.”
But beyond that, Marley said her TikTok popularity is empowering. It makes her see herself in a new light.
“All I’ve really wanted since I was young was to have people enjoy my comedy and my content, and now I have a following of people who think I’m funny,” she said. “It’s helped me get through thinking I’m not worth anything.”
And that just shows that as much as egirls could only have been created in this moment — a confluence of generational inclinations, a resurgence of ’90s style, and an app ripe for self expression — they’re also totally familiar.
On any platform, digital or otherwise, teen girls have always found ways to find themselves. The egirl is just the latest addition.
E-girl / E-boy is slang that combines the words "electronic" with "girl" or "boy." Generally, the label represents people who have a large presence online and tote a specific style influenced by skate culture, goth, KPOP and cosplay.
Although the origin of the terms e-girl and e-boy are unknown definitions for both go back to 2009 on Urban Dictionary. The earlier use of e-girl is derogatory in nature. On June 14th, 2009, Urban Dictionary user awillie defined e-girl as "Call her an E girl cause she's always after the D, She all over him…a true E girl." The definition received 138 upvotes and 131 downvotes in ten years. E-boy was defined by LordFinnese on November 19th, 2016 as, "Often seeking the attention of eGirls they born and raised on Twitter where they gain exponential amounts of attention from eGirls, and still complain about being lonely only to get with eGirls and get nudes. Often good looking and a FuckBoy, but only online." The definition received 236 upvotes and 50 downvotes in three years.
On August 31st, 2010, @jbiebsbelievexo posted the earliest tweet using the word e-girl saying, "OH HELL NO IT'S A RANDMON BLOND EGIRL WTFQEJNFDA" (shown below, left). On June 2nd, 2013, @Trev_Hahn posted the earliest tweet using eboy saying, "Whose the thirstiest eboy?" (shown below, right).
The terms e-girl and e-boy slowly became a definitive style showcased on TikTok. On February 23, 2019, MyNameIsBelieve posted two egirl/eboy tiktok compilation video which have received 314,491 views an 195,500 views respectively (shown below).
E-Girl Factory is a is a series of TikTok parody videos in which users typically become captured in a makeshift factory and become transformed into an stereo-typical e-girl (an internet flirt) performed in sync with a clip from a bass boosted remix of the song "ME!ME!ME!" by Japanese DJ and producer Teddyloid.
I'm an E-girl Who Plays Video Games
I'm an E-girl Who Plays Video Games is a copypasta which spawned on Twitter after a user attempted to make a point about girls who claim to be gamers but only play so-called casual games like Pokémon and Animal Crossing. The copypasta spread as people added their own humorous pictures along with the text.
On January 2nd, 2019, Twitter user @broken_shroomz tweeted a starter pack for "I'm an E-girl Who Plays Video Games," using so-called casual games Pokémon, Animal Crossing, Stardew Valley, and Love Live! School Idol Festival. The tweet gained over 4,300 retweets and 23,000 likes (shown below).
The tweet was quickly criticized by many Twitter users who thought the point being made was sexist. Twitter user @starswithnames tweeted an obscene rebuttal, gaining over 24 retweets and 890 likes (shown below, left). User @KylePlantEmoji called the original poster a "misogynist gatekeeper," gaining over 340 likes, though this tweet was mocked by those who thought he was White Knighting.
Other Twitter users turned the original tweet into a copypasta and added humorous pictures. User @dcmcfanclub posted a picture of Polybius, gaining 20 retweets and 50 likes (shown below, left). User @YoItsYohane tweeted pictures of a pair of Sonic the Hedgehog games as well as Fortnite and Big Chungus, gaining 17 retweets and 80 likes (shown below, right).
Tik Tok E-boy
TikTok E-Boy is a series of TikTok parody videos in which users either transform themselves into an "e-boy" or display themselves as one. Many use Canadian singer-songwriter Mac Demarco's "Chamber of Reflection" as a backing track.
In late January, TikTok users began to use @eating.christians sound clip to transform into an eboy. @laurajeanjacket shared one of the more popular videos with 60,500 likes and 2215 shares as of February 20th (shown below, left). @rhinoceros333 also shared a popular variation of the e-boy transformation with 18,300 likes and 1,307 shares as of February 20th (shown below, right).
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E-girls and e-boys, explained
Inone of the 20th century’s most influential books on fashion,Subculture: The Meaning of Style, the sociologist Dick Hebdige studied the punks, mods, and Teddy boys who hung around London in the 1960s and ’70s. He posited that their funny haircuts and jarring clothing was in fact a form of political rebellion related to their status as young, white, and working class: The mods in their polished suiting, he argued, “undermined the conventional meaning of ‘collar, suit and tie’, pushing neatness to the point of absurdity;” punks responded to the neglect felt from society by “rendering working classness metaphorically in chains and hollow cheeks.”
Basically, Hebdige proposed that style is inherently political, and that its ties to music make it that much more so. That postmodernist, Marxist framework remains the dominant method of dissecting subcultural aesthetics today.
The problem is that neither Marx nor Hebdige at the time had ever heard of TikTok. They didn’t know about Instagram or the internet, where so many subcultures are born now. (That is, if you can make the argument that subcultures can still exist today without being immediately swallowed by the mainstream.) It was a lot easier to draw connections between a group’s clothing, the music they listened to, and their socioeconomic status when that group did not exist exclusively in the digital ether, casting doubt on whether it actually exists at all.
I’m talking about e-girls and e-boys, the categories of hip young people whose defining qualities are that they are hot and online. This describes lots of people, of course, but while traditional influencers traffic in making their real lives seem as aspirational as possible, e-girls and e-boys’ clout comes from their digital personas. In other words, they’re not amassing followers by going on vacations to St. Barts or Santorini every other week. More likely, they’re in their bedrooms, alone.
Which is why you’ll almost never see an e-girl in real life. Well, you will, but she’ll just look like a normal young person who shops at Urban Outfitters and is experimenting with her hair right now, just like young people have been doing for eternity. To be an e-girl is to exist on a screen, mediated. You know an e-girl by her Twitch presence or the poses she makes on her Instagram, not by what she wears to school.
What does an e-girl look like? To draw from the most visible stereotypes, she will almost never be wearing her natural hair color (lime green, pink, or half-black, half-white hair are popular shades) and will almost certainly be wearing winged eyeliner. Her clothes are either thrifted (probably from Depop, the app where Instagram influencers make money selling their stuff) or come from alternative-ish online fast fashion retailers like Dolls Kill, which describes itself as an “online boutique for misfits.” E-girl staples include mesh T-shirts, colorful hair clips, Sailor Moon skirts, O-ring collars; on e-boys you’ll see middle-parted hair, chains, and high-waisted pants, though it’s worth noting that to be an e-boy does not require being male; both styles transcend gender. There will be little bits of skate culture, hip-hop, anime, cosplay, BDSM, and goth that will jump out, if you can spot them. In short, e-girls and e-boys are what would happen if you shot a teenager through the internet and they came out the other side.
The implication of the label is that they spend too much time being concerned about their hotness and onlineness, which is why “e-girl” is often used derogatorily, much like the word “hipster” was in 2006. If not mocking, it’s at least filtered through several layers of irony or sarcasm — “Am I an e-girl yet?” you might jokingly ask a friend while trying on a pair of tiny sunglasses at Forever 21.
The “e” stands for “electronic,” obviously. Though the term itself has been around for more than a decade (more on that later), the reason we are talking about e-girls at all is because of TikTok. The app, whose wild popularity over the past year has given rise to a host of slang words, memes, and comedic forms, also happens to be a window into the bedrooms of millions of teenagers, where they lip sync and act and laugh and cry to a faceless audience, in search of the internet’s sole meaningful metric: clout.
It was TikTok that, when it launched in the US early in the fall of 2018, catapulted the followings of girls with pink hair and attitudes and angelic-faced boys who wore chains on their pants. Users began describing each other and themselves as e-girls and e-boys and then quickly parodied the terms. In different iterations of e-girl memes, you accidentally drink “e-girl juice” or get pulled into “e-girl factories” and end up dressed in striped T-shirts and pigtails, with pink blush swept over your nose and cheeks and with tiny hearts under your eyes, like an anime cosplayer who listens to Lil Peep. Thus “e-girl” entered the mainstream lexicon (well, mainstream if you pay attention to TikTok memes).
It is at least mainstream for Jessica Fisher, a 22-year-old TikToker, actress, and former avid Tumblr user with 88,000 followers. She’s not an e-girl herself, but can clearly see the roots of e-girlhood from the Tumblr aesthetic, where teens would share images of sad, pretty girls with heavy makeup. There’s a reason why the term is associated with TikTok, not Tumblr: “Tumblr was so much less visual, we didn’t get that fashion boom,” she says. On TikTok, you almost always see the poster themselves, whereas Tumblr offered far more anonymity.
Winged liner and heavy eye makeup is a part of the TikTok e-girl aesthetic, just as they were in the Tumblr days, but there’s also what Jessica calls, laughing, an added “‘I’m baby’ quality,” referring to the popular meme. The pigtails, along with the pink nose, eyes, and cheeks, are indicative of youth. “It’s a little DDLG,” she says, meaning the kink Daddy Dom Little Girl. Like many current fashion trends (harnesses, for instance), there’s an element of BSDM, kink, and fetish wear, too. A hypersexualized child aesthetic, which also borrows from anime, means that e-girls often look both older and younger than they are. It’s true of many teen trends, but online, age is even easier to manipulate with the help of photo-editing software, face filters, and camera angling.
Though Jessica says she’s noticed e-girl style trickling into music festivals and her friends at art school, “it’s more of a bedroom thing.” E-girls, then, are less of a steadfast identity and more like a costume to be experimented with in the privacy of one’s own space, and then presented online. It transcends location — it doesn’t matter if you’re a 14-year-old in Ohio going to school with a bunch of girls wearing Brandy Melville, you too can place an Asos order for kawaii crop tops and Doc Martens and post semi-ironic shitpics of yourself on Instagram.
Because that’s where e-girls live: online. It’s what makes e-girls or e-boys different from their subcultural forebearers: You can actually spot a goth or a scene kid or a hipster on the street. Or, as one girl posted on Twitter, “being the family goth kinda ruins the pic sometimes lmfaooo.”
The online presence of an e-girl is also what makes them targets of ridicule. When a 17-year-old girl named Bianca Devins was murdered by a man she’d known from the gaming chat app Discord, much of the media attention was focused on her online life as an “e-girl.” Devins was immediately the face of the supposed dangers of being a girl who had an alternative or prominent internet persona (in reality, like most women killed by men, the murderer was someone she knew; it’s possible they were dating).
Since its origination, “e-girl” has been used to disparage women. The earliest definition on Urban Dictionary from 2009 describes the term thus: “Call her an E girl cause she’s always after the D.” It’s an insult lobbed frequently on gaming sites, where any attractive or popular woman who games can be labeled an “e-girl” as a way of belittling her presence. It recalls the ideology of Gamergate, in which women were harassed, threatened, and doxxed for simply existing in the predominantly male gaming world.
But thanks to its status as a lighthearted joke on TikTok, that could be changing. As 17-year-old Mel told Vice, calling someone an e-girl used to be “like calling a girl a bitch or a ho. Now there’s a newer generation: It’s a word to call a pretty, alternative girl.”
Of course, any girl, e- or otherwise, will face some degree of harassment online if they attempt to do anything interesting on the internet, and probably even if they don’t. Women who make money by gaming and cosplaying on Patreon and generally building a career out of e-girlhood say they regularly receive hateful comments, even when they too are in on the joke.
For Rusty Fawkes, a 22-year-old Twitch streamer and cosplayer, it’s just part of the job. She hadn’t heard the term “e-girl” until early 2019, after it had become a TikTok meme, and though she knew that it had some negative connotations, she was quick to self-deprecate. “I try to bring a bit of irony and humor into the situation, because I mean, I love all my fellow e-girls. Instead of being butthurt about it, I should just embrace the memes.”
She posted a YouTube compilation of her TikToks with the headline “TikTok Gamer Girl Rusty Fawkes Must Be Stopped,” for example, and most of her original TikToks are hashtagged #cringe. That sense of humor is also what’s helped her find success: Over the course of just a few months, she went from having 900 Instagram followers in February to more than 60,000 today.
Yet even she, a bona fide e-girl, says it’s difficult to actually define the terms. “Just having an online presence would technically make you an e-girl,” she says. “I know other girls who have an online presence who look very normal: natural hair, no piercings, and they wear clothes from Hollister. You can have an online presence but people won’t come at you and say you’re an e-girl. The stereotypical e-girl thing is like, wearing wigs, or being like more on the nerdy side. It has that specific look, where you’re either into gaming or you’re into cosplay or just anything niche like that.”
Some of those stereotypes are shared with the less-discussed but equally prevalent phenomenon of the e-boy. Like the e-girl, the e-boy wears cool clothes from a litany of aesthetic sources (dressing like a character from a ’90s sitcom or Dragon Ball Z are currently popular) and shares the qualities of being young and hot online. They are also easy to mock; like everyone on the internet, they sometimes do deeply embarrassing things that they think look cool, as evidenced by this unnerving compilation of a certain robotic dance move:
As Know Your Meme writes, e-girls and e-boys are a kind of “internet flirt” regardless of whatever they’re doing online — by virtue of being attractive, they’re lust objects for many and subjects of derision to others. And like hipsters, the idea of the e-girl is one that evolves and that can have multiple meanings as an insult, a compliment, or an irony-laden meme. There’s humor in being an e-girl or e-boy, just like there’s humor in most stylish things: Some of the biggest names in the fashion industry have built their careers on designing clothing that isn’t meant to be taken seriously.
For now, e-girl might just be a synonym for being young, female, and very online, and therefore tied to whatever connotations those things hold. But as long as there is an internet and people who use it, there will be e-girls and e-boys — those who walk around masquerading as an average cool teen, yet whose digital selves reveal that they’re part of something much more complicated.
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E-girls and e-boys
For the Japanese girl group, see E-girls. For the TV series, see E-Boy (TV series). For the pixel art group, see eBoy.
E-girls and e-boys, sometimes collectively known as e-kids, are a youth subculture that emerged in the late 2010s and is almost exclusively seen on social media, notably popularized by the video-sharing app TikTok. Videos by e-girls and e-boys tend to be flirtatious and, many times, overtly sexual.Eye-rolling and protruding tongues (a facial expression known as ahegao, imitating climaxing) are common.
According to Business Insider, the terms are not gender-specific, instead referring to two separate styles of fashion, stating that "While the e-boy is a vulnerable 'softboi' and embraces skate culture, the e-girl is cute and seemingly innocent".
The terms "e-girl" and "e-boy" are derived from "electronic boy" and "electronic girl", due to their association with the internet. "E-girl" was first used, in the late-2000s, as an objectifying pejorative against women perceived to be seeking out male attention online. According to an article by Business Insider, the earliest example of e-girls were found on Tumblr, with Vice Media stating the subculture evolved out of the earlier emo and scene cultures.Vox writer Rebecca Jennings instead referred to the Tumblr aesthetic as a precursor of the subculture, as it lacked the cutesy aspect that would come to define e-girl hair and makeup.i-D referred to Avril Lavigne as "the original e-girl" due to her polished take on alternative fashion, contrast to mainstream norms of the time and affinity for kawaii culture. Additionally, fictional characters such as Ramona Flowers, Harley Quinn and Sailor Moon were influential on the development of the subculture.
By the late-2010s, e-boys had split from this original all female culture, embracing elements of emo, mallgoth, and scene culture. The popularity and eventual death of emo rapper Lil Peep also influenced the beginnings of the subculture, with the New York Post describing him as "the patron musical saint of e-land". E-boys also make use of "soft-boy aesthetics" through presenting themselves as sensitive and vulnerable. According to the Brown Daily Herald this is due to a transformation of ideal male attractiveness from being traditionally masculine to embracing introvertedness, shyness, emotional vulnerability and androgyny.
Mainstream popularity (2018–present)
The subculture began in 2018, following the worldwide release of TikTok. According to an article in i-D, the subculture's emergence on the app challenged the polished and edited photos of influencers and VSCO girls common on Instagram, due to TikTok lacking the features to do so. An article by CNN stated that "If VSCO girls are the sunshine-basking hippies of 2020, e-girls are the opposite". The subculture first began to gain mainstream attention in 2019.MEL Magazine attributed the subculture's popularity to the increased interest of K-Pop groups like BTS, Exo and Got7 in the Western mainstream, due to the two's similar style of dress and hair. A trend soon began on TikTok and other social media platforms, where people would upload videos "transforming" into an e-boy or e-girl, according to Vox Media, this is how the culture "entered the mainstream lexicon". The July 2019 murder of Bianca Devins also brought attention to e-girls due to Devins' participation in the subculture.
The subculture continued to grow in prominence through 2020, with Vogue publishing an article featuring Doja Cat discussing e-girl makeup, and "e-girl style" being in the top 10 trending fashion terms on Google in the year. Additionally, a number of mainstream celebrities began to adopt the bleached stripes hairstyle associated with e-girls, including American socialite Kylie Jenner and Kosovar-English singer Dua Lipa. In July, high fashion designer Hedi Slimane released a preview of a collection called "the Dancing Kid" for Celine, influenced by the fashion of e-boys. In a July 29 article from GQ, writer Rachel Tashjian referenced this as a sign that "TikTok is now driving fashion".Corpse Husband's song "E-Girls Are Ruining My Life!", which was released in September, gained large amounts of attention on TikTok, eventually charting in the UK Singles Chart for three weeks. In late 2020 and early 2021, a number of high fashion designers, namely Ludovic de Saint Sernin and Celine, began designing collections inspired by e-boy fashion. Both InStyle and Paper magazine credited e-boys and e-girls as important to the rise in popularity and resurgence of pop punk in the 2020s.
The subculture's fashion is inspired by a number of prior subcultures, fashion trends and forms of entertainment, including mall goth,skater culture,1990s–2000s fashion, anime,K-pop,BDSM,emo, scene,hip hop, and rave.Dazed described the aesthetic as "A little bit bondage, a little bit baby". Outfits commonly consist of baggy, thrifted clothes. In particular, some e-girls wear mesh shirts, plaid skirts, oversized t-shirts, crop tops, platform shoes, chokers and beanies, while e-boys wear oversized sweaters or monochrome clothes and band merchandise layered over long sleeve striped shirts, and polo necks. Chain necklaces, wallet chains and dangle earrings are also frequently worn. E-boys often wear curtained hair, whereas e-girls hair is dyed neon-colors often times pink or blue, or is bleached blonde in the front. Some tie their hair into pigtails. Hair dyed two different colours down the centre (known as "split-dye hair") is common amongst both sexes.
Both boys and girls may wear heavy makeup, in particular pink blush on the cheeks and nose, imitating anime. Fake freckles unkempt nail polish and winged eye liner, are common. YouTuber Jenna Marbles made a video imitating an e-girl's makeup style, calling it a mix between "Harajuku, emo, and igari makeup", the latter of which is a Japanese makeup style imitative of a hangover. Some e-girls draw over their philtrum using lipstick to make their lips look rounder. One notable element of e-girl makeup is under-eye stamps, often in a heart shape. While the trend is directly influenced by Marina Diamandis, it has its origins in 16th-century smallpox epidemic in Britain, where patches of paper or fabric would be cut into small shapes and stuck onto the face to cover scars.
E-boys and e-girl's expression of progressive, "woke" politics, often influences their fashion. Sexual and gender fluidity are common within the subculture, with many e-boys expressing themselves in more traditionally feminine ways, such as wearing chokers or makeup. E-boy musician Yungblud often wears a dress on stage. Discussion of mental health is also common.
E-boys and e-girls are associated with "Sad Boy" music, a broadly defined grouping of musicians, who similarly write music influenced by sadness and mental illness, that often overlaps with emo rap. Notable Sad Boy musicians include Lil Peep, Juice WRLD,Brockhampton, Frank Ocean, Joji, Tyler, the Creator, Jaden Smith,Hobo Johnson, Rex Orange County, and James Blake. The term has been criticized by artists such as James Blake, due to its portrayal of mental illness, which he considers "unhealthy and problematic". Other musicians associated with the subculture include Ghostemane, SuicideBoys, Scarlxrd,Twenty One Pilots and Billie Eilish.
In the 2020s, it became common for participants of the subculture to listen to artists associated with the 2020s pop punk revival, such as Machine Gun Kelly and Lil Huddy.
Notable e-girls and e-boys
- Belle Delphine, a South African-British internet celebrity, pornographic model, and YouTuber
- Doja Cat, an American singer, rapper, songwriter, and record producer
- Billie Eilish, an American singer-songwriter
- Grimes, a Canadian musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, music video director, and visual artist
- Jxdn, an American singer, songwriter, and TikTok personality
- Maggie Lindemann, an American singer-songwriter
- Lil Huddy, an American internet celebrity and singer
- Neekolul, an American Twitch streamer and TikTok personality
- Milly Shapiro, an American actress and singer
- Yungblud, an English singer, songwriter, and actor
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- Media related to E-girls at Wikimedia Commons
Meme e girl
.It’s Egirl Season!! Egirl TikTok Compilation
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