Why E-Girls Are The Moodier VSCO Girls, & How To Be One For Halloween

Photographed by Sophie Hur.
Unlike the millennial hipsters and the Gen X punks who vehemently rejected labeling and categorization, e-girls can’t help but shrug, roll their eyes, and acknowledge the wave they’re riding. For example, in a video aptly titled, “♡HOW TO BE AN E GIRL♡ (makeup, hair, clothes),” one of the internet’s most popular e-girls, 18-year old Eve Fraser reluctantly admits: “I am, technically, an e-girl.” This video is a few views shy of hitting the one million mark and on Instagram, she’s the among the most visible of the Gen Z-centric subculture.
You’ve likely noticed the ubiquity of e-girls. In her latest video, YouTuber Emma Chamberlain admits that the "old Emma" might've been a VSCO Girl but wants to set the record straight and say she is not a VSCO Girl. Then she unzips her coat to reveal a cluster of silver chains: "Now, I'm an e-girl." The e-girl aesthetic pulls from the '90s rave, online avatar, anime, and goth aesthetics, perhaps as a reflection of e-girls’ cultural literacy. They look like teary-eyed watercolors, often posing under moody colored lights with a hand on their cheeks. They’re dope, and if their aesthetic speaks to you and you want to dress up like one, we can’t blame you.
Halloween is, after all, often a time of year during which we experiment with our alter egos. We finally have an excuse to dress, act, and do things we might be too shy or embarrassed to do in our normal lives. Many drag queens, for example, take advantage of Halloween’s transgressive spirit to try out drag for the first time... and then figure that since they already have the wig, they might as well keep trying. 

What Is An E-Girl?

E-girl is to scene girl as VSCO Girl is to Tumblr Girl. As the name suggests, the e-girl thrives behind the phone screen, probably in her bedroom with some moody lighting. They dominate TikTok, where they not only build their fan bases but are also endlessly parodied by both dismissive female peers and condescending boys. A growing chain of TikToks to the tune of AntiNightcore’s “Me Me Me,” have poked fun at the e-girl aesthetic and their alleged self-infantilization. The murder of 17-year old Bianca Devins earlier this year also prompted a new level of visibility for the term "e-girl."
Like most digital dwellers, e-girls are likely fans of vaporwave, lo-fi mixes, and Japanese disco. (If you’re a Mariya Takeuchi fan, check out these Rick Astley and Smashmouth remixes of “Plastic Love.”) Anything vibey and moody does the trick (see: Cuco). Basically, e-girls seamlessly blend together more subcultures than we can count and synthesize them into a singular look. 
Many e-girl and e-boy tutorials online, in fact, emphasize the importance of finding “your aesthetic.” There’s a basic formula, which we'll outline below, but you’re encouraged to build on it.

How To Do E-Girl Makeup

From Japan’s Lolita girls, they take the flush of pink across the nose and cheeks that blends into the temples, and from anime characters, they borrow the shiny dew on their noses and inner corners. Straight, almost blocky eyebrows compliment jagged cat-eyes. Fake freckles are welcome, while hands smooshed against cheeks are mandatory.
Fraser starts by layering cream blush as a base for powdered blush, using it on her eyes, cheeks, and nose. She makes keen notes on the blush zeitgeist: “I used to use a more peachy blush, but times are a-changing and this blush is more favorable.” 
Also important is the eyeliner, with a low-hanging wing, some smudge is advised. You want to look doe-eyed, shy, and dejected. You want rounded lips, kind of like a cartoon’s, so draw over your cupid’s bow with abandon. You’ll notice that many e-girls online have slightly blurred cupid’s bows as opposed to a Kylie overline. The two hearts under your eyes, while signature, these aren’t compulsory.
As for hair: if you don’t already have a psychedelic mish-mash of pastel tresses on your head, a store-bought wig is fine. Alternatively, you can tie your hair in pigtails.

How To Dress Like An E-Girl

Despite the gendered nomenclature, you can dress as the e-person of your choosing. Ladies, if you want to experiment with a more masculine look and tap into your butch side, an e-boy costume might be the move for you.
Recycle your '90s kid costumes from last year, and just dial down the lip gloss in favor of blush. Think Bratz-doll meets Codename: Kids Next Door or Rocket Power cosplay. The look of an e-girl is mostly about the makeup and hair, but the right outfit drives the point home: Wear a beanie, wide-legged pants, and a short-sleeved t-shirt over a long one, crop it, and you have the e-girl-baddie hybrid. Opt for a mini plaid skirt, and the same t-shirt-long-sleeve combo and you’ve got the girly e-girl that TikTok has oft parodied. When it comes to hats, you can’t go wrong with a beret or a beanie. And for shoes, anything with a chunky heel, sneakers, or Vans will do the job.
Before you go out and shop, check your closet for the universal e-person garment: the striped mock-neck. Black and white stripes are a must. Other e-girl essentials you might already have in your closet including wide-legged pants (contrast-stitching preferred), grommet belts, anything with checkered print, anything that looks like it’s from Dolls Kill, and silver chains. Take notes from e-girls themselves, and dive into the Internet’s vast archive of rave, goth, anime, cartoon, and Lolita imagery for inspiration. Just remember, you’re not an Insta-baddie, or a VSCO Girl, or a Tumblr Girl: You’re something entirely new.

More from Tech

R29 Original Series