After the sound success of my previous articles, I have written about Weaboos and Japanese beauty standards I want to take a closer look at the birth of the E-girl trend, which basically has made a subculture become more of a mainstream. E-girl is the updated version of a very defined Japanese style called „Gyaru” ( Jap-English Manga/Anime expression with the use of the English world girl as the word itself sounds when said by Japanese. Gyaru means the Lolita style girl type with overemphasized European girly features paired up with doll-like clothes and colorful hair). I will want to release an extensive guide to all the otaku-Harajuku trends, which act as the root style for today’s cyber styles both in and outside of Japan.
I would like to take a deep dive to take a closer look at this trend which is now on the rise.
The birth of the E-Girl phenomenon
E-girl is not new. It existed as Gyaru from the Nineties in the streets of Harajuku, it existed in the past years as Lolita/Gyaru. E-Girl is a clear precursor of the Cyber -Lolita. I think we can see that trend finally emerge within the next 5 to 10 years.
E-girl is basically a cyber –Gyaru or a rockabilly Lolita. When I look at the phenomenon I cannot help but go back to the works of my favorite artist Mori Mariko who has predicted this phenomenon back in the Nineties when she first became big with her cyber –Geisha photo montages and videos. I will present a few of her photos here because how she looks like back then, can be perfectly used as the epitome and the core of all of today’s E-Girl/E-Gyaru.
It only took a few months for the expression to change. From Gyaru/Lolita to E-Girl. Thanks to social media, particularly one look-triggered platform for the teens called TikTok. According to many, the birth of the E-girl phenomenon can be thanked by this social platform, but all those, who know about the Harajuku styles, the Anime fandom and the long-lived subculture called Weaboo we do know, that E-girl existed. Only under a different name.
The concept of the E-Girl
Many say that E-girl derives from the word Emo, that’s the gothic style of the 2000s but this is wrong. E-girl stands for Electronic Girl. And it’s ambassadors basically want to look like today’s manga heroes straight from the screen. This way, E-girl is very much a look-based trend, it’s as close to someone becoming cyber just like the world-famous term „Idoru” as possible. So, E-girl is basically a crossover of Weaboo and Idoru. It’s a concept that takes the weaboo online.
What makes E-girl different from Weeaboo
The core difference is in the whole concept. Weeaboo is not a fashion trend but rather a culture. Weeaboos are non-Japanese girls, women or guys (mainly non-Asian) people who really actually want to become Japanese and above all, a female Japanese Anime character. They live for cosplay and many of them try to dress like a Lolita or Gyaru also in their everyday lives. The E-girl trend is not defined by race. Weaboo culture, due to its cosplay characteristics is stacked with crossdresser guys or men. E-Girls can be of any race, the trend does not contain the sheer will for someone to actually change into becoming a Japanese/Hafu character. While E-Girls may sport Japanese style features they do not want to desperately look like someone who is Japanese by race. In fact, many of today’s E-girls are Japanese or at least are Asian.
E-girl vs. Lolita style
While Lolita style rather puts emphasis on girliness and cuteness in a Hafu Anime character way E-girl presents Gyaru style in an exaggerated, rockabilly form. This way it’s wilder and not as limited as the standard Lolita/Gyaru style. That’s why I often call E-Girls Rockabilly Lolitas.
E-girl: Cyber Gyaru back to life!
Cyber -Japan has long been a subculture, that was especially big before the 2000s. Then J-Pop and K-Pop took over and cyber Japan and the Otaku have become something that’s more of a hidden fashion and lifestyle trend. It has become a Reddit culture. In order for me to talk about the Otaku, I would need many more pages. I may do so later on. But let’s get back to E-girl. It’s now a fashion which has returned from being a sub-genre and teens have happily embraced it. It makes me happy to see, that the cyber Japanese style that appeared back in the Nineties is not only considered relevant, but it’s also still futuristic to this day. And not only relevant. I think we can soon witness the rising trend of Cybergirl ( or boy) which leads us to the virtual Idoru.
The concept of Idoru
Idoru is an overly Japanese concept. It’s a collection of women or girls who look like, act like someone who is absolutely perfect as they are. Idoru is such a huge phenomenon, that Japanese do their very best to create their Idoru online. The reason for this is, while we humans can never reach total perfection, a cyber Idoru can have the capacity to do so, given that all their characteristics are just perfect alongside their looks. Idoru is without a hint of imperfection.
The key E-girl beauty standards
We had Gyaru, Lolita aka living doll. This is why E-girl as a concept needed some enhancements for it to differ from these styles while at the same time embracing them as well. The Harajuku style which was booming and was considered weird or punk like 20 years ago, is almost viewed as normal these days when you can freely dye your hair pink and nobody will tell you anything bad about it.
This way, E-girl is E- Gyaru 2.0. It embraces the Gyaru fashion but it also pairs it up with cyber/anime elements. Just like we can see in Mariko Mori’s adaptations back from the Nineties. I find it amazing, that what she predicted back then, has become booming now.
The main characteristics of the E-girl look
- Long, colorful hair – possibly pink, because pink is the statement color of Weaboo-ness and anime style. After pink, the most prevalent style is the shades of blue and purple. See the most popular anime characters.
- Cuteness paired up with punk elements: the Lolita cuteness while present is toned down with the use of darker colors, piercings and an exaggeration which makes me think of Rockabilly style.
- Gyaru style – the doll-like dresses are out but the hairstyle is really gyaru, with the double ponytails. The use of girly hairbands is also prevalent.
- facial stickers, miniature tattoo stamps or other decorations: they look like birthmark but feature hearts, flowers, and other cute icons. The use of fake freckles, that has long been the staple of the Gyaru style is prevalent.
- Shimmery makeup to define cyber-ness (if that’s a word).
- Doll makeup but heavier than the Gyaru makeup- heavy makeup, very defined eyeliners, the use of colored lenses is much prevalent. Just like you can see the Weaboos presenting the style at Comicons and similar meetings, that’s what the E-girls do, but rather online on the photo/image-based social media.
- Kneed socks- a very popular item in the Lolita/Gyaru style knee-length socks or even longer are again really in. These are paired up with large, heavy shoes. These make the feet look even thinner.
- The doll wardrobe presents in an updated version with the keeping of some elements ( see socks above) and the use of heavily striped, dotted patterns. The use of black and white is quite popular.
About Mariko Mori
I consider her being a real visionary of Japan’s and the world’s future and futuristic style. When she has performed her artwork back in the Nineties has made her represent the arrival of the cyber-age. She has long been my favorite. Her works really predict the coming of the cyber age, a style, and lifestyle which is even yet to fully arrive. I consider her the real precursor of the cyber-virtual Idoru.
I have long been a fan of her. Now, with the help of Pinterest, I would like to show you her artwork. Click here to view more from Mori Mariko.
You can also check out my collection of beautiful Japanese photos. I will soon be categorizing them a little bit better.
I hope you like this post. I want to write more about the Otaku and all the names and types of Manga/Anime characters later on.
I appreciate all help in terms of building my separate Japanese blog
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