Exploring the Phenomenon on TikTok

Monday, July 17, 2023

The rise of e-boy is another sign that subcultures can be born in the digital ether. Discover how a group of Gen Z teenagers is shrugging off the manicured Instagram aesthetic for a grungy vibe and love of video games.

What is an E-boy?

E-boys are a youth subculture that emerged in 2018 and is nearly exclusively seen on social media. With 500 million users globally, the app is a force to be reckoned with regarding fashion taste and driving trends among Generation Z. Trends often come and go on the platform. Still, the e-boy phenomenon has lasted longer than most.

The e-boy aesthetic is a mishmash of influences, including emo, scene, punk, and goth style. The men wear their influences on their sleeves, often sporting black nail polish and a middle-parted hairstyle. They also draw inspiration from 90s skate culture, hip-hop, and Japanese manga.

As a result of this, boys are known for their unique fashion sense. The style combines 90s Leonardo Dicaprio curtain hairstyles, BDSM harnesses and chains, and K-pop with dangly earrings. 

You may not be able to spot an e-boy in public as quickly as you would a straight-edge emo or a play because they are more likely to hide behind their headphones and pass through places quickly without making eye contact with others. You may, however, find them at skate parks and electronics and gaming stores or at comic book and anime conventions, where they tend to hang out in cliques with other like-minded kids.

E-boys look

You can usually find them on social media, where they churn out clothing transformation videos and lip-syncing clips in the name of their e-boy persona. You'll also catch them on YouTube, where they often make content promoting their E-Boy lifestyle. Unlike their emo counterparts, these teens don't typically wear their looks in the real world.

This enables them to avoid backlash for their aesthetics from the non-digital world. You might see an eboy on TikTok wearing a black leather jacket, a pair of skinny jeans, and a long sleeve undershirt topped with silver chains, black nail polish, and a grey beanie. You might also find him choking himself while doing the e-boy dance or a video of him performing some other fetish move.

Like their emo cousins, they're heavily influenced by music. Some prefer emo bands, while others gravitate towards hip-hop and alternative rap artists. Fashion is another touchstone, with many boys taking cues from swoon-worthy South Korean idol groups. 

Despite wanting to be seen as excellent, these kids are mostly introverted. You'll rarely find them in public spaces such as shopping centers, bars, and concerts, and they will likely hide their face behind a pair of earphones.

E-boy Subculture

E-boys are a new subculture of teen boys that gained popularity on the video-sharing app TikTok. They follow a similar style to their e-girl counterparts but have a more emo-influenced aesthetic. While the e-boy phenomenon is mainly tied to TikTok, it also has roots in other popular websites that allow users to post content.

Members of the e-boy subculture share a familiar aesthetic, often dressing in oversized t-shirts and cuffed pants and wearing signature floppy curls or dreadlocks. They also follow a similar taste in music, embracing the sad boy genre popularized. 

In addition to their fashion, e-boys embrace a distinct lifestyle involving heavy media and internet consumption. This is especially true of memes and gifs, which e-boys use to make funny or entertaining videos for their followers on TikTok and other social media platforms.

While the e-boy phenomenon has only been around for a few months, it is here to stay. Some retailers have even started selling clothing lines that resemble the e-boy aesthetic. This trend will continue to grow and spread across social media, similar to other fads that have come before it.

Finding an E-boy

Social media has spawned many new trends, and one of the most recent to take off is the e-boy aesthetic. Originating on TikTok, the trend consists of alternative fashion choices that mix '90s grunge style with the season's hottest hairstyles. Combined with black nail polish and chunky chains, it creates a distinctive look that's easy to recognize.

You can find e-boys at skate parks, electronic and gaming stores, and thrift shops. They tend to be introverted and avoid large spots for social gatherings, instead preferring to hang out in small groups of friends. They'll also be spotted in various online spaces, from YouTube to Instagram to TikTok.

TikTok users often record parody videos to demonstrate the e-boy transformation process. 

Other common e-boy characteristics include baggy streetwear, dark makeup and lip color, and a hairstyle inspired by K-pop stars. They may wear black nail polish and a lot of silver jewelry, particularly dangly cross earrings. They'll often roll their eyes and stick their tongues out a lot.

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