The world of the internet changes quickly. Internet subcultures, in particular, are constantly evolving and changing and can disappear so fast that most people who are part of the mainstream are unaware that they exist. In the case of E-girls and eboys their influence has become so vast that mainstream society cannot help but notice.
If you’ve been puzzled by the recent discussion regarding “e-girls” or “e-boys” you may need a quick explanation of what these edgy internet stars are all about.
The history and origins of E-girls and E-boys
E-girls and E-boys are relatively recent phenomena. They mostly coincide with the introduction of TikTok which was announced in the year 2018. TikTok is, of course, an original short-form video-sharing website. Similar to the now-defunct Vine, TikTok lets users upload video clips of 15 seconds. This format has created brand new kinds of online content and hosts a variety of fashions and trends that rip across the platform like the waves of a tsunami.
It’s in this new and exciting world of dancers and singing people that e-girls have found their home. It didn’t take long before e-boys were able to create a distinct variant of the fashion and style of e-girls. They culminated in this unique culture that’s evolving to this day.
The characters we are referred to as e-boys or e-girls did not just pop up out of thin air via TikTok. It appears the site Tumblr might be the source of the online personas that would later be the people we’ll discuss here. “E-girl” is a term that has been used since the late 2000s “e-girl” could be tracked to the end of the 2000s however, it was initially an insult to attractive women who hang out on the internet.
Significant Influences on E-girl and E-boy Culture
The e-girl and eboy culture result from an extended lineage and mix of influences. It’s closely interwoven with other internet-related muses like the imageboards on 4chan (you visit for yourself!) and other internet-based sources of memes, such as Reddit.
There are obvious signs of the punk and goth movement that predates the internet for a long time. These influences may be filtered by the lens of the emo style that was the mainstay of Tumblr and the 2000s in general.
Beyond those important design influences, Japanese culture and media like anime and manga are also easy to be spotted. Particularly “kawaii” (cute) culture which is an essential element of Japanese music and pop. The growing popularity in K-Pop (Korean Pop songs) within the West has also had an impact. While the K-Pop aesthetic is more prominent in the e-boy aspect of things, it is still a significant influence on the e-boy side.
Musicians like Billy Eilish are significant contributors to the world of the e-boy and the egirl. However, the influences on music are always changing and susceptible to rapid changes.
E-girls and Eboys Are Anti-influencers
One of the major reasons why people are now fascinated by e-girls and E-boys is a great article in the Business Insider piece. This article does a fantastic job of explaining the entire culture however one aspect of it is especially insightful. The author Paige Leskin draws parallels between E-girls and E-boys as well as anti-punk fashions of the goth and punk time periods.
It’s partly a reaction against the superficial, polished, world associated with those who are Instagram influencers. It’s messy, dirty, and, at times, more openly sexual. E-girls and E-boys aren’t looking for the typical image of a perfect lifestyle sitting on the beach, getting a tan, and sipping expensive cocktails. They’re rough, dirty and rebellious.
One of the most common elements of society when it comes to girls who are e-gypsy is the “ahegao” facial appearance. As we’ve mentioned, Japanese anime and manga have a significant influence on subcultures, which includes the adult content that is found in the medium. The term “ahegao” generally means “lewd facial expression” and refers to the exaggerated look used for (mostly) women who appear in “hentai” ( adult Japanese animation) when they are in their throes of the state of ecstasy.
The now-iconic expression has been given an ironic meme-like character of its own and is now an integral part of the e-girl personality. One of the pioneers in the trend of e-girls is an online star called Belle Delphine. Although Delphine herself is now classed as an adult actor, the ahegao facial expression is as integral to being an e-girl in the same way as the “V in victory” symbol, which is part of kawaii culture.
As with many other things that move across the time-space, there’s a good chance that many people who are copying the e-girl look aren’t aware of where the term Ahegao is from, but there’s no doubt that everyone recognizes that it has some raunchy undertones.
Recognizing the Aesthetic
While the words “girl”, as well as “boy”, are used to describe these styles, however, they don’t have to be gender-specific. They each represent a style that is attainable by any person who is of all genders.
The exact definition of what the girls and boys appear like isn’t easy as nobody is going to have the exact combination of characteristics. But, just like punks and goths, you’ll be able to tell when you observe it.
E-girls typically have brightly colored hair or, at the very minimum, the wig is brightly colored. This is mostly due because of the influence of Japanese animated films on the subculture. The characters of anime often sport fantastical hair color, such as blue, purple, pink, or purple.
When it comes to clothes, makeup, and accessories, there’s usually a mixture of darker punk and gothic accessories, mixed with kawaii components like Hello Kitty gear. When it comes to makeup, the aim is to create an appearance of youth, vulnerability, and general slackness, if we’re being truthful.
The E-boys sport a distinct haircut that typically includes a middle-parting that is popularized by K-Pop artists. A lot of other elements of fashion are common with E-girls, however, there is a stronger emphasis on androgyny and sensitivity.
E-boys and girls Only Live on-Screen
At present, at the very least the e-girls and eboys are mostly restricted to their cameras and social media accounts. You’re less likely to find them in outfits in the grocery store. It’s a form of art that performs in the direction of themes such as gender equality, progressive politics, and sexual morality.
In this way, it’s somewhat like a drag, in which the average drag queen appears to be an ordinary person but with eyebrows that are shaved! So, your typical E-girl or E-boy will appear like a normal young pedestrian maybe with brightly colored hair.
It could change over time as fashion becomes more mainstream. This could cause people to mimic the exterior appearance of the subculture but not fully comprehend its significance.
We’ve seen it happen time and over again in other subcultures like goth, punk, and metal fashion. It can lead to mainstream socialites like the Kardashians sporting shirts that play on the subculture of heavy metal with no apparent love or respect for the rock music which inspired it. If you do happen to see the e-girls or e-boys in the real world, make sure to offer a positive message of support for them.