We’d only spoken about egirls as an internet trend before, but now we’ve also spoken to them in an effort to understand what the subculture truly means to them. Because perspective matters, am I right? Here’s how egirl Heidi Mae describes what being one entails and why she first shown interest in the subculture.
Mae, also known as @heidimaetrix on Instagram, told Screen Shot that “being an e-girl is all about dressing and acting how you want. It’s about not conforming to society’s expectations of you. For me, that’s kind of like dressing like I’m the villainess from an anime.”
She continued, “I started doing cosplay about 5 years ago, but I’d been secretly dressing up like characters in my room ever since I was a kid. Then suddenly I realised that I could share it on social media! It was just so much fun transforming into different characters and bringing them to life.” In its simplicity, cosplay refers to someone dressing up as a superhero or character from a video game, comic book, or movie.
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The term cosplay was coined by the Japanese in 1984, which stands for ‘costume’ and ‘play’, and ever since then the industry surrounding the trend has grown remarkably. When we asked Mae where she’d like to live in the world, she told us “I’d have to say Japan. Because I am obsessed with the culture, food, and scenery.” Today, comic conventions take place all over the world where people spend huge amounts of money on costumes to wear, but thanks to social media, cosplay lovers no longer have to wait for a special event to find their community.
I had the opportunity to speak to the cosplay artist Jane Vindom, or @janevindom on Instagram, who fell in love with the art after visiting her first cosplay convention. She said that cosplay can only be described as “the best experience ever”, it has allowed her to travel, perform as well as judge other local conventions. What really stood out when speaking to Vindom was how incredibly important this community is to so many, and just how much passion drives it forward. She herself loves doing antagonistic and villain type characters, “I just find them more interesting and engaging, after all, most stories wouldn’t be as entertaining without them”
The artistry involved in cosplay is quite something, and “bringing the characters to life” as Vindom says to be her main objective, is no easy task. Cosplay costumes and props can be bought online, but a lot of them are intricately handmade to perfection. “When choosing a character, make sure it’s someone you really like or relate to… remember that there are no rules, when it comes to this hobby, just try to have fun with it”
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Just like everything else seen as ‘different’ by society, people are bound to talk and make judgements out of an unwillingness to understand. Unfortunately, stigmas are born, and once they are, they’re really hard to misspell. Mae told Screen Shot that “I can’t count the amount of comments I get on social media that are along the lines of; ‘you are cringe’ or ‘you’ll regret this when you’re older’ or ‘men are laughing at you, and not in a good way’.” As if that wasn’t enough, she doesn’t escape it offline either as she explained: “I get a lot of side glances and stares whenever I’m out in public.”
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So why would anyone want to live with that amount of negative chatter in their wake? Mae told me why, and her reasoning resonated with me: “The community is so accepting and friendly! They really support each other!” I’d like to point out here that not one of us can truly be friends with or liked by everyone we meet, and if anyone has a welcoming and happy group of people to be completely themselves with, why wouldn’t they want to be a part of that, regardless of what onlookers view them as?
Even though Mae puts up with—or hopefully ignores—the unnecessary bad vibes that are extended onto her social media platforms, she still has the courage to keep doing what she loves. “Something that I stand for is mental health awareness. I have anxiety, depression, and PTSD which I started treatment for 3 years ago. I am very transparent about my struggles and how they affect my everyday life. I want my followers to know that they’re not alone, that mental illness doesn’t make you weak and that the stigma surrounding psychiatrists and therapists needs to change.” And babe, I one hundred percent agree with you.
Mae continued that “You can’t let others’ opinion of you influence how you dress and act. There will be a lot of pushback from society” so “Just have fun with it!”
Mae also acknowledges the presence of different sub-genres within the egirl community, “There are a lot of genres! You have pastel goth, goth, gore, kawaii, etc. The fun thing about e-girls is that you can dress all pastel one day, and then dress a goth vibe the next, and that’s all just a part of being an egirl because there’s no wrong way to do it!” After hearing that, I kind of wished everyone else who doesn’t classify themselves as an egirl would just take a page out of their book, who’s to say there should ever be a ‘wrong way’ to be?
A lot of subcultures within the internet realm have enormous impacts on what an average person sees, and in themselves get influenced by, such as fashion for example. Soft boys are known for their comfy jumper while fuckboy can easily be identified by their caps. Mae seconded this by stating “I do think that e-girls influence fashion! Just look at how tennis skirts are suddenly trending in mainstream fashion when they’ve been a staple for e girls for a long time.” Also, the bleached fringe? What about the pink hair craze? All of these trends filter and polishes out in some way, eventually blurring the source. So how about we all think about this the next time we jump on a trend, huh? And never hesitate to ask, understanding culture makes living in it far more fun.