Gen Z are the ones that’ll save our planet from certain death, but all they get stick for is being the Instagram generation and pranking each other on TikTok.
What us oldies need to realise, however, is neither of these things are mutually exclusive, and actually those crazy kids can be all about the A E S T H E T I C while still being super smart and switched on.
And what would any of our teenage years have been without subcultures? Whether you were an emo, a mod, a grunger, or a punk, it felt – at the time – like the most vital part of your identity ever. For some of you, it still is – and there’s nothing wrong with that.
To get to grips with the latest subculture to come from Gen Z, you have understand who they are and where they came from.
Nihilism (or at least ironic jokes of it) will come naturally to this age group, faced with an unstable political and environmental climate.
They’ve also grown up completely online, whereas those that came before – aka, me – didn’t even get to visit the Polly Pocket website until I was of school age, and didn’t have a smart phone until I was at university.
Instead of having to congregate at the park and drink cider until they were socially lubricated enough to swap Bring Me The Horizon tracks on bluetooth, kids can go online, show people who they are at their will, and chat to their agemates from across the world while sitting in their bedroom.
That’s where e-boys and e-girls come in. The e stands for electronic, just like in email, and they’re extremely online, extremely desirable to other young people (and old perverts and orbiters, but we’ll get to that later), and extremely ironic.
E-girls and boys are like the popular kids at school, except on TikTok. They can premeditate their funny captions, edit their photos to fit the rest of their look, and choose what presence they have.
So, with the history of the e-person done and dusted (and overly pathologised) let’s look at what it takes to become one of them.
How to be an e-boy
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E-boys are often conflated with the softboy, who also exhibit many of the same sensitive traits and love of all things ‘different’. However, not all e-boys are softboys, and vice versa.
According to Wikipedia – or at least the rogue editor who added this in – an e-boy is ‘a young adolescent boy who has a following of lonely 13 year-old girls who think they’re dating because said boys reply to their comments saying things such as “luv u” and “xo.”‘
Hopefully there’s nobody over the age of 13 messaging 13-year-olds at all, but despite the fact citations are very much needed here, there is a nugget of truth when it comes to the luv u and xo comments. Kisses, hearts, uwu, emoji, and other forms of sickly sweet communication in captions and messages is common for an e-boy.
As for the look, it’s not very far off from the skater one we know and love from our own youths, but with a somewhat more feminine twist. Pair your Thrasher tee with a chain on your jeans and some black nail polish, as well as dying your hair peachy pink for the e-boy vibe.
Beanie hats and chokers are optional, but really complete your descent into getting 87,000 likes on a TikTok where you do the ‘rock on’ hand sign and stick your tongue out.
Oh, and make jokes about having depression and edit barbed wire into your photos. That works, too.
How to be an e-girl
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The e-girl look is somewhat rooted in anime and Japanese Harajuku/Kawaii fashion, as well as borrowing from the goth subculture.
In terms of clothing, you can either go full pastel or opt for plaid and black, with long socks, chunky trainers, school-style skirts, and slogan tees reigning supreme.
Gifs and slogans in your Insta pics are required, with love hearts and flowers always doing the trick.
However, to truly master becoming an e-girl, you need to master their makeup. Blusher is used heavily on the nose and cheeks (as is highlighter on the tip of the nose) and black eyeliner is used to create cat eye flicks and hearts and stars under the eyes. Get creative with it, taking inspiration from the likes of HBO’s Euphoria and those you see online.
The e-girl can be seen as somewhat problematic, due to the proximity to a lolita-type act (featuring ahegao faces and a babyish aesthetic) that attracts older men who are known as ‘orbiters’. On RedPill and incel discussion boards, these orbiters are a topic of derision, but the e-girls they admire and pander to are also denigrated as ‘looking for an ego boost or attention’.
In reality, though, e-girls simply like what they like, and don’t need to be shamed for the fact they’re enjoying fashion and makeup and want to flex online just like all of us.
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