Hello, and welcome back to another edition of “Dylan Explains Gen-Z.” In the past couple months I’ve tackled important topics like WTF TikTok is and VSCO girls, and we’ve all learned a lot together. Do you find yourself sksksking in your daily life? Yeah, that’s on me, and I’m really sorry. But we’re not done yet. While you’ve probably finally wrapped your mind around the fact that VSCO girls are pretty much just 90s girls with metal straws, today we’re diving into another Gen-Z phenomenon that you’ll be making memes about in no time: E-boys.
While VSCO girls are all about pastel, beachy vibes, E-boys (and the corresponding E-girls) are basically a 2019 equivalent of goth kids and emo kids. The “E” actually stands for Emo, but there are definitely some new developments since the emo kids that were listening to My Chemical Romance when you were in middle school. Think lots of black and skinny jeans, always looking sad in pictures and videos, and layered necklaces and dangly earrings. As writer Savannah Seymour smartly put it on Twitter, E-boys are basically whatever aesthetic Harry Styles was doing a few years ago.
2015 Harry Styles birthed the current e-boy factory model which means he’s the e-boy final boss y’all know what we have to do 😔
— Savannah Seymour (@savannahseymour) October 8, 2019
But aside from the jewelry and clothes, one of the most important aspects of the E-boy identity is the hair. The classic E-boy hairstyle requires a flatiron to achieve, and consists of floppy bangs, parted roughly down the middle, that basically just fall into your face. It’s the exact kind of hairstyle that’s designed to annoy your mom by constantly getting in your face, which makes it perfect for these angsty teen boys.
This is Anthony Reeves, better known as luvanthony, who has over a million followers on both TikTok and Instagram. He’s basically E-boy royalty, and he’s only 17.
As a testament to the influence of luvanthony, TikTok MVP Brittany Broski (of the infamous kombucha video), posted a video dedicated to him. Apparently it’s been deleted now (rude), but in the video, Brittany points out one of the most important aspects of understanding E-boys: that they’re not really hardcore at all. E-boys are all about eye rolls and fake choking motions, but they’re really not aggressive at all.
i can’t believe people sit around and clown vsco girls, soft girls, and e-girls for existing when e-boys literally plague the world with their eye rolls and woahs…. i can’t name a worse species.
— cammi | clown #1 (@senoritavlogs) October 9, 2019
But Anthony’s not alone! There are thousands more where he came from, like Ethan Gregg, who only has half a million followers on TikTok (sad!), but is also a perfect example of what a typical E-boy looks like. Oh, and he’s 16.
When it comes to TikTok, which is the platform on which E-boys truly thrive, most of them don’t actually do that much. Most of them build a following because teenage girls find them attractive, so they don’t really bring anything to the table in terms of humor or talent. Whereas there are lots of people on TikTok putting out great original content (like Betches ayyyy), the average E-boy on TikTok just stares at the camera while playing a rap song about sexual acts they’ve definitely never done, sometimes sticking out his tongue to look like he doesn’t take it too seriously.
Here’s Kyle Colver, another high schooler with mysteriously perfect skin:
Honestly, most of these guys’ videos are lame, but it’s the high school equivalent of me following gay guys on Instagram who just post swimsuit thirst traps. Is the content that interesting? No, but I get why people like it. For high school girls, these TikTok-famous guys are like, major celebrities. Don’t ask me how I know this—I’m a cultural anthropologist.
What’s funny about the whole E-boy persona is that it’s really just all about appearance. While the classic E-boy look consists of edgy clothes or jewelry, they’re really no different from the VSCO girls we all make fun of. For the most part, they live in their parents’ nice-ass houses, go to school every day, and really aren’t edgy at all. It’s basically like the Urban Outfitters version of actually being edgy or hardcore. For all their talk, they’re filming their TikTok videos in the school bathroom or their mom’s kitchen just like everyone else.
If you dare to slip above 5% body fat you are excommunicated from the e-boy circle sorry I don’t make the rules
— adam (@adamrossss) October 8, 2019
And like with VSCO girls, there’s really not that much to it. Every generation has their stereotypical groups and types that they cycle through, and E-boys and E-girls are just the latest evolution of something that’s not even remotely new. This time, they just have TikTok instead of Myspace.
Image: luvanthony (2), ethangregg2 / Instagram; savannahseymour, senoritavlogs, adaamrossss / Twitter: kylecolver / TikTok
Over the last month, I’ve been on an odyssey that’s opened my eyes to a lot of new things. It’s not a fitness journey, or an Eat, Pray, Love type of situation, but rather, a journey that’s taken place entirely on my phone. I’m talking about TikTok. Yes, TikTok. Aside from all the people I already told you to follow, TikTok has been an enlightening look into a younger generation, one that’s grown up fully attached to technology, and it’s jarring.
There are whole teen subcultures that you’ve probably never heard of, with layered stereotypes and characteristics. The one I find most personally interesting are E-girls and E-boys, which I’ll get to in another article soon (buckle up), but the group that’s starting to get the most mainstream attention are the VSCO girls. What are VSCO girls? Let’s get into it, and like, get ready to feel reallyyyy f*cking old.
Before we dive into the “girls” part, let’s quickly cover VSCO. As you likely know, VSCO is a camera and photo editing app, known for its hazy, grainy filters that negate the fact that your iPhone camera is actually very good. You definitely know a couple of ~artsy~ girls who use VSCO for all their Instagram pics, but for people born post-1996, it’s a phenomenon. You can also share your photos within the app, but we’re not really here to talk about the app itself.
Now you know what VSCO is, so what are VSCO girls? Basically, imagine you’re in Mean Girls and walking through the cafeteria: VSCO girls would now be one of the tables you would com across. VSCO girls were born from the app, but they’ve grown into so much more. While using the VSCO app is an integral part of the VSCO girl identity, there are a number of other key identifiers:
-Scrunchies. Scrunchies in the hair, scrunchies on the wrists, just generally many scrunchies.
-Hydroflasks. You know, the metal water bottles that are heavy enough to be lethal weapons. The handles on these bottles are perfect for attaching the end of a friendship bracelet while you’re working on it, as VSCO girls love to do.
-Stickers on Hydroflasks. The water bottle is a start, but true VSCO girls deck them out in vinyl stickers.
-“Sksksksk.” The VSCO girl mating call. It’s like the Gen-Z equivalent of when you used to type “asdfghjkl” to express that you’re overcome with emotion—also similar to saying “I’m screaming” when you’re not, in fact, screaming.
-“And I oop.” The other VSCO girl mating call. This phrase was first coined by drag queen Jasmine Masters, so naturally it’s been co-opted by teenage white girls driving around in their mom’s Jeep.
-Metal straws. Because most VSCO girls are still only like 16, they don’t have a lot to worry about. But they definitely are worried about saving the turtles! VSCO girls are constantly talking about saving the turtles, which is why they carry metal straws everywhere they go. Usually the fancy ones that collapse down and come with a case.
absolutely not a soul:
vsco girls: pic.twitter.com/q9rAEn4bW8
— vic (@chilloutvic) August 9, 2019
Those are the primary traits, but there are a lot of other things that are broadly associated with VSCO girls. These include Vans sneakers, Fjallraven backpacks, oversize T-shirts and sweatshirts, Polaroid cameras, puka shell jewelry, rosewater spray, and Birkenstocks. If a lot of these things sound low-key normal, that’s because they are. Being a VSCO girl isn’t about being weird or different, it’s about being the same as everyone else. Half of these things were popular in the 2000s, but most of these girls are too young to even remember that.
When it comes down to it, it’s not that important for us adults to understand exactly what teens are getting into these days. That’s why I only follow people who are 18 or older on TikTok, because I just can’t be invested in what a 15-year-old is doing. But the concept of a VSCO girl really isn’t different from anything that was going on when we were in high school. There were always goth girls, or hipsters, or any number of other groups that you either fit into or actively made fun of. It’s the circle of life.
tumblr girls walked so vsco girls could run
— sim1 (@simoneeorlando) August 9, 2019
Actually, VSCO girls really aren’t that different from the norm-core aesthetic that’s been around for years, but most VSCO girls are too young to actually know what that is. But while norm-core is a low-key style that usually feels pretty natural, VSCO girls do the absolute most. It’s all about trying super hard to have the most scrunchies, the coolest stickers on their Hydroflask, and do the most to #SaveTheTurtles.
there’s a vsco girl in all of us, some just choose not to unleash her
— James (@CaucasianJames) September 17, 2019
But even if you’re not going to download TikTok and get fully immersed in the world of VSCO girls, you can at least laugh at some of the excellent memes and tweets about them. Personally, my number one goal in life is to be a suburban wine mom, so I’m considering buying a Hydroflask to begin this journey. Am I okay? Probably not, but please respect my privacy in this time of crisis.
vsco girls grow up to become suburban wine moms
— flan (@jelloflan) August 7, 2019
As always, I’ll be on the lookout for more teen things that you definitely need to know about, because Gen-Z is basically like, a different species. But for now, enjoy trying to explain to your boyfriend/mom/group chat when they text you asking, “what are VSCO girls???” You might not feel like an eskskskskpert, but at least you won’t be totally clueless.
Images: chilloutvic, simoneeorlando, caucasianjames, jelloflan / Twitter