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E-Girls, Instagram Baddies, and VSCO Girls: The Social Media Styles Influencing Gen Z

These three subcultures are flourishing on social media, where their bold and unique aesthetics are applauded by Gen Z…

Every generation has its aesthetic cliques, devoted to standing out from everyone except their like-minded peers. Think: punks, goths, emo kids, greasers, etc. The generation that grew up on social media is no different, but the internet has allowed these cliques to take a larger stage in the pop culture conversation than ever. Even “normies” (AKA normal people) follow their accounts for fashion inspiration or just to curate some unique aesthetics into their social media feeds. Plus, those that stand out aren’t ostracized these days; instead, they’re celebrated. We found in our trend Unique is the New Cool that 74% of 13-17-year-olds think that being the same as everyone else is boring and only 17% think that being called “basic” is a compliment—while 50% say it’s an insult. They’ve applied these opinions to their personal style, with 71% of teens telling us in our Shopping & Fashion Topline that they like to dress in their own, unique style and 52% adding that they’d rather stand out than fit in. This new mindset has allowed new cultural niches to flourish, and since likes and views are the highest status symbol available in the world of social media—they’re becoming Gen Z’s top online celebrities and influencers, all because they’re not afraid to stand out.

As you can see from Yasmin Amin’s YouTube video where she dresses “as a different aesthetic everyday [sic] for a week,” there are plenty of different styles cropping up on the internet. And considering this video has nearly 500,000 views (and there are many more like it), the internet is interested in these looks. Knowing that, we rounded up three aesthetics that are taking over social media today and making their mark on pop culture:

The E-Girl: Gen Z’s Scenester

The E-Girl is Gen Z’s “scene queen,” according to Fashionista, and her winged eyeliner, faux freckles, and colorful hair clips are taking over short video platform TikTok. What TikTok describes as “a unique style inspired by the goth, K-Pop and cosplay movements” lashes back against perfectly polished Instagram influencers. They’ve developed an aesthetic all their own, which includes a very specific makeup routine (a trend we’ve seen across all three of these new aesthetics). A video from eve frsr explains the look: lots and lots of blush across your cheeks, temples, and even nose, dotted-on freckles, and colorful hair with pigtails. Many top it all off with some heart stamps under their eyes, too. The E-Girl is unique and authentic, and as one self-proclaimed E-Boy explains, TikTok is “a safe haven of expression” for their style, far away from the Facetuned models of Instagram.

Instagram Baddies: Confidence, Curves, & Contour

“Instagram baddies” are known for their highly-styled, heavy makeup and thick brows—but there’s more to it than that. According to Upleap, their makeup is always perfect and always DIY, complete with overlined lips, contoured cheek bones, and a dewy glow akin to “a gorgeous glazed donut.” They work out and are known for showing off their toned curves. A quintessential baddie is Kylie Jenner, but many other influencers have made a name for themselves in the category, too, including: Anna Nystrom, Janice Joostema, and Lydia Barakat. But keep in mind that being an “Instagram baddie” goes beyond looking the part. According to Urban Dictionary, they’re “Famous for being beautiful, spreading trends, having on point brows, and an unspoken confidence.” Confidence is the most important aspect of being a baddie, and it’s what makes brands line up to team up with these influencers for sponsored content.


VSCO Girls: The Anti-Instagram Baddies

BuzzFeed reports that there’s a new kind of girl taking over social media: The VSCO Girl. Defined by Urban dictionary as “Tumblr girls of 2019,” their look is the antithesis of the “Instagram baddie.” Instead, the VSCO girl is about athletic clothing, barely-there makeup, beachy pursuits, and of course, taking pictures using the app they’re named for. But brand names are a big part of their uniform. According to the many, many posts devoted to “VSCO girl starter packs,” (over 1.4K under the hashtag on Instagram) the style includes lots of scrunchies, lip balm (Carmex preferred), puka shell necklaces, friendship bracelets, barrettes, Crocs, Vans, Birkenstocks, Hydro Flasks,  Brandy Melville tops, Fjallraven backpacks, Mario Badesco facial spray, AirPods, and Glossier. #VSCOgirl has almost one million posts on Instagram, and VSCO girl transformation videos are trending on TikTok—a favorite platform for these young, “effortless” girls.