Further evidence that it's TikTok's world and we're just living in it: The video app is now responsible for a whole new genre of person. If you've noticed that young boys have started dressing like Justin Timberlake in *NSYNC on a moody day, you didn't accidentally Back To The Future yourself. Much like hipsters were to Tumblr back in the 2010s, 2020 is kicking off with TikTok's own pop culture stereotype: the e-boy. e-boys go hand in hand with e-girls, which bubbled up last year, but the whole e-genre defies gender and is also a little difficult to pin down.
Let's just start with an example: Chase Hudson. A member of the TikTok Hype House, 17-year-old Chase Hudson exemplifies a lot of the hallmarks of e-boyism. He has floppy hair parted in the center, thrifted baggy clothes, chains, and chipped nail polish. He can't really sing or dance, but he can lip-sync to a choreographed TikTok well enough that over 9.5 million people follow him on the app. It's a tragically hip combination.
For people who were born before 2000, this is not an unfamiliar look. Boys and girls wearing alternative clothing, chains, and dying their hair (a staple of being an e-girl, especially) have existed for generations. Their legacy depends on how each generation chooses to define themselves. We've had punks, goths, emos, and now e-boys and girls, who have taken the concept of being a relatable outcast and championed it into its own digital style — emphasis on the digital.
As Vox's Rebecca Jennings explains in her piece on TikTok culture, the main element of being an e-anything is being online.
"You’ll almost never see an e-girl in real life. Well, you will, but she’ll just look like a normal young person who shops at Urban Outfitters and is experimenting with her hair right now, just like young people have been doing for eternity," she wrote. "To be an e-girl is to exist on a screen, mediated. You know an e-girl by her Twitch presence or the poses she makes on her Instagram, not by what she wears to school."
It's hard to say how long e-boys and girls will last. A similar TikTok fad, VSCO girls, already seems to have risen and fell in popularity over the past year, and even the most permanent of pink hair dyes grows out. Whatever comes next, only one thing will remain the same: The people doing it will still be cooler than you.