Enable me to start this particular Gen Z version of Jezebel Investigates with a disclaimer: the next unhinged exploration into Web tradition shouldn’t be meant to overwhelm your senses with frivolous nonsense. It’s meant to contextualize a picture you may’ve encountered on-line, whether or not from a buddy’s child or a meme account you not-so-secretly comply with on Instagram. Or maybe you’re like me, an avid YouTube and TikTok fiend who has seen a really particular image pose in dozens of social media posts, instituted solely by a really particular modern-day subculture. That, my buddy, is a pattern price interrogating.
Let’s again up.
Egirls and eboys—the present teen technology’s counterculture, one thing just like the goth, emo, or MySpace scene queen-like different child different to VSCO women and Instagram influencers’ completely edited worlds—have a really particular aesthetic which I will now flatten for the sake of this weblog. As Vox put it, an egirl wears colorfully dyed hair, thrifted garments, winged eyeliner, anime-inspired make-up (hearts underneath the eyes, rosy blush on the cheeks and nostril), hair clips and chains. She’s on TikTok. Eboys are considerably comparable, most notably sporting their hair parted down the center. E…individuals? pull from “skate culture, hip-hop, anime, cosplay, BDSM, and goth.” Additionally they pose for footage in an nearly uniform-like vogue: eyes open, crossed and rolled again, with their tongue uncovered. Typically, there’s a hand gesture, delicate fingers ever-so barely pulling the face again. Like so:
After coming throughout innumerable examples of “egirl face,” for lack of a greater time period, I began to surprise about its origins. “Egirl” was as soon as solely used as “a misogynistic insult for women, whose passion for video games was claimed to be a ploy for male attention and money,” in response to Dazed Digital, and has since been co-opted by Extraordinarily On-line Women. BuzzFeed traced the etymology of “egirl” to City Dictionary, which in 2013 described egirls as as those that “gain exponential amounts of attention from pub players and competitive players alike, and still complain about being lonely.”
The modern egirl doesn’t essentially really feel the necessity to establish as a gamer although lots of them do—one other 2019 City Dictionary entry outlined egirls as “art hoe but TikTok”—and there have been numerous TikTok memes about her formation, such because the notorious “egirl factory video” (seen under) by which a normie teen is remodeled to look like an egirl.
However little has been defined about… the face: The ever present face that appears to pop up in each picture.
Till now. Form of. I might be improper, however I have a principle.
Not like, say, VSCO women, who’ve a celeb hero in YouTuber Emma Chamberlain, egirls don’t have many icons. One of the public-facing egirls is UK ‘internet persona Belle Delphine—although she herself is rather more of a gamer/cosplayer than an egirl in its present iteration—higher referred to as the lady behind the “Gamer Girl Bath Water” saga of summer season 2019. (The abridged model: in July, Delphine introduced that she was going to promote her bathtub water for $30 a jar—regular, kinky web stuff from Delphine, additionally a superb troll—however as our mates at Kotaku identified, labeling her product “Gamer Girl” was sufficient to encourage on-line outrage. As you’d anticipate, the vehement feedback she obtained had been sexist in nature, an apparent recall of the early days of “egirl” language.)
After some digging, I began to note that Delphine ceaselessly poses with a face similar to that of different egirls—tongue out, eyes open and rolled again—and she or he typically posts such photos on Instagram with the hashtag #ahegao. As somebody who has little-to-no relationship with anime or gaming tradition, I was unfamiliar with the phrase. Based on a Complicated article about Gamer Girl Tub Water printed earlier this yr, Delphine is “well-known for her imitation of ahegao—an exaggerated, eyes-rolled-back expression that signifies an orgasm in adult-oriented anime.” Based on Metro UK’s breakdown of Delphine’s use of “ahegao,” the phrase first appeared in anime within the 1990s and is outlined by ladies “shown with their eyes rolling back, tongue hanging out, and blushing or panting. The idea appears to be to show an intense level of arousal, where someone loses their faculties completely.” Translation: she’s parodying one thing meant to remind her viewers of climaxing.
That’s… tremendous, however slightly regarding when taking into account that this “ahegao” face can also be one which egirl and eboy youngsters use to pose in images. I’d wager the vast majority of them are unfamiliar with the origins of it (the Web tends to strip issues of their meant function shortly, particularly when it’s one thing as innocuous and simply proliferated as a face to make in selfies) but it surely appears a bit disconcerting provided that the fashion is hottest with underage youngsters. Actually, the top-rated definition of “egirl” on City Dictionary, posted in January 2019, reads: “did you see that egirl doing a ahegao face unironically??” Contemplating the legacy of “egirl” hate on-line, the “unironically” addition strikes me as one thing most likely included by some indignant, sexually pissed off dude on-line.
Gen Z youngsters grew up on memes—their humor is inherently born of the Web, and due to that, it’s inherently ironic. It might be that I am very improper and most egirls are properly conscious that their pose borrows from or mimics ahegao. They very properly might be electing to pose similarly, altering the face ever so barely to bastardize it, to make it ironic—subsequently, co-opting it and reworking its connotation. They did it as soon as with their namesake, whose to say they will’t do it once more with their gestures?
Even when that isn’t the intention, “egirl face” does signify a shifting relationship in that means from the unique. And that’s fairly cool.