If you’re hearing the term e-girl and wondering what it’s all about, don’t worry, you’re not alone; the e-girl concept is a recent invention. When we talk about e-girls, it’s mainly in reference to both a particular style and specific behavior — the two factors must be present for an e-girl to be a veritable e-girl.
That first factor, style, is a specific look that can be best characterized as a mesh between goth, the 90s, and lolita. There is a kind of homage to anime characters baked into the e-girl style; make-up usually consists of exaggerated blush that resembles the highly visible blushing in anime. If you’re trying to re-create the e-girl look for yourself, it’s pretty straightforward — just mix equal parts anime-lover with emo/scene aesthetic, and you’ll be an official e-girl too.
The e-girl look is only one part of the e-quation (no? Too much?) — the e-girl is defined not only by her appearance but her presence. In this context, presence refers to a particular type of presence, your online presence. As the name suggests, an e-girl is only an e-girl in the same way e-mail is only e-mail when it’s on the internet. It’s the heavy online presence that differentiates any old goth girl from an e-girl.
It’s been argued that e-girls don’t even exist anywhere except online. The entire subculture is defined by having an active internet presence and an evident love of social media. It’s that heavily-online quality that likely gave rise to the initial negative connotation that e-girl carried. It’s sometimes used in a derogatory way to disparage a girl who seems to be a little too online for someone’s liking. In its negative form, an e-girl is someone who’s not shy about their interest in gaining online attention and is a bit too preoccupied with appearances.
Yet, e-girl also has a positive side, and there are many self-proclaimed e-girls who carry the title with pride. Just like any other subculture with its own distinct aesthetic, there will be some people who judge it and others who feel it fits them perfectly. For the rest of us who are somewhere in between, at least we can say we officially know what an e-girl actually is.