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 1990s and early 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.
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 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.
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 in 2019.
E-girls got a lot more attention this summer after the murder of Bianca Devins, a 17-year-old teen who was allegedly killed by a man she knew 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 have risen into the mainstream in 2019 thanks to TikTok, the short-form video app known as a launching pad for Gen Z's favorite 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 capitalized 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 content is created.
The e-girl aesthetic draws from characteristics of anime, where female characters are often skimpily dressed and fetishized as innocent, helpless victims. One TikToker referred to this as the "I'm Baby" quality in a story for Vox.
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 egirls may be a counter to the polished, Facetuned Instagram influencer," BuzzFeed wrote about e-girls in February.
There's probably no coincidence that e-girls have risen 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.