What Is An E-Girl Or E-Boy? The Slang Meaning & Definition Explained

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What Is An E-Girl Or E-Boy? Slang Meaning & Definition Explained
Entertainment And News

The digital age has given rise to a whole new vocabulary that many of us had never even heard of until a couple of years ago. E-girls (sometimes spelled egirl) and their male counterparts, e-boys, are just another addition to the roll call of allusive descriptive terms that decorate our social media platforms.

What is an e-girl or e-boy?

This Tumblr-inspired, TikTok-obsessed internet subculture is difficult to pigeon-hole if you didn’t grow up with a smartphone permanently attached to one hand. But despite how it looks online, this trend didn’t happen overnight. 

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This might be difficult for you to hear, Gen Z, but since the mid-20th century, each generation has had their own version of what is now known as an e-girl, so your extremely uncool parents might have dressed kind of similar to you back in their day.

In the 1970s it was British punk and tartan skirts; the 80s goths backcombed their hair and wore black lipstick; in the 2000s, emo teens blasted My Chemical Romance and made angsty Facebook statuses. 

Since the dawn of pop culture, there has been a subculture of teens ready to dye their hair in crazy colors, slam bedroom doors, and shout, “It’s not a phase, mom” over their blasting music.

While, in the past, they were rejecting cheesy boy bands and kitsch fashion trends, today’s e-girls and e-boys exist in opposition to the influencers pushing teeth whitening kits and weight loss teas on their young, impressionable audience.

It's an aesthetic-driven identity that cultivates a different style than that advertised by the Madison Beers and Kylie Jenners of the Instagram world. 

How do you spot an 'e-girl' or 'e-boy'?

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The prototypical e-girl is probably not someone you see walking around in real life; she’s far too busy perfecting her winged eyeliner and making TikToks in her room to be out in the world.

If you’re scrolling on Tumblr, you'll likely see an e-girl wearing striped long sleeves, layers of chains, and hearts drawn with black eyeliner under the eyes like influencer Eve Fraser, or popstar Doja Cat.

Her clothes are probably thrifted from Depop, or ripped straight off a Dolls Kill model. Her hair is never her natural color, or any natural color for that matter. It’s probably lime green, pink or half blonde, half black. 

For the e-boy, the style is much the same, with a little more skater influence, and doesn’t necessarily denote a different gender. Any gender orientation can dress as either an e-girl or e-boy, provided they own a dark shade of nail varnish and part their hair in the middle.

If you’re familiar with TikTok’s Chase Hudson, AKA Lil Huddy, you know exactly what an e-boy is.

The style is heavily influenced by Asian culture, specifically anime. An e-girl is what you get if an emo was sent on a shopping trip in Harajuku and then told to learn a TikTok dance. 

Where did the terms 'e-girl' and 'e-boy' come from?

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As the name suggests, the term e-girl is inseparable from the internet.

An e-girl and e-boy’s identity is as much based on their online persona as it is on their hair color. The "e" is for electronic. If there wasn’t a device on which these teens could post images of their out-there fashion choices, they probably wouldn’t do it at all.

They make TikToks of them applying heavy amounts of blush while looking angsty in front of the camera. Some play in online gaming forums or cry in their social media stories.

The persona of e-girl is really just a restyling of the exact influencer culture it rejects since they’re all chasing the same internet currency: clout.

But the term has a derogatory connotation due to its roots in gaming culture. Women who dress in this style are often slut-shamed and criticized for invading the male-dominated world of online gaming.

Men who can’t bear the thought that a woman might be interested in gaming, and might also happen to dress in a way that's attractive to them, mistakenly assume that they are only adopting these habits for male-attention.

For these men, an e-girl is a promiscuous woman who flirts with men online.  

Is 'e-girl' or 'e-boy' an insult? 

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The popularization of the term has opened it up for a new wave of criticism that's less derogatory but equally as mocking as the sexist tirade against gaming e-girls.

Someone who wears a Sailor Moon t-shirt or tweets out Lil Peep lyrics might joke about being an e-girl to mock this trend. Search up #egirlfactory on TikTok or Instagram and you'll see thousands of videos of people stereotyping the style, and many e-girls themselves poking fun at the style.

Anything that makes someone appear obsessed with online-expression and being sultry is sarcastically seen as e-girl behavior. But while these jokes aren’t exactly complementary, they are a welcome shift away from the cruel harassment experienced by women in the gaming world.

Language and tone surrounding e-girl and e-boys has softened significantly since the style became popular on TikTok.

Its weight as an insult depends on whether or not you're consciously adhering to this trend.

If you're deliberately painting your nails black and pouting to look cool online, then it shouldn’t offend you at all. If you’re someone who has chosen to dye two blonde streaks at the front of your hair for style, but otherwise don’t associate with e-culture, you might be insulted by being called an e-girl.

But really, "e-girl" and "e-boy" are just synonyms for being young and obsessed with being online. Because as long as there are people using the internet, there will be e-girls and e-boys.

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Alice Kelly is a writer with a passion for lifestyle, entertainment, and trending topics.