Welcome to our column, "Hey, Quick Question," where we investigate seemingly random happenings in the fashion and beauty industries. Enjoy!
Something I think about a lot — like, once a week, minimum, just an absolutely unreasonable amount — are the Scene Queens of the mid-aughts. For those who weren't on MySpace circa 2006, let me set the scene, pun totally intended: There was a group of women (and some men — hi Jeffree Star) who shot to popularity on the platform, not unlike how people have become stars on Instagram or YouTube today. They were, in my mind, the original internet influencers.
It was a tight-knit crew who sometimes dated members of the same pop-punk bands (both Jac Vanek and Audrey Kitching were linked to members of Panic! at the Disco) and just as often got into public drama with one another on their LiveJournal blogs. They launched clothing lines, attempted music careers of their own and hosted their own tents at Warped Tour.
But perhaps the most notable thing these Scene Queens did was set the aesthetic for a certain sub-group of young people. Whether it was their brightly-colored, skunk-striped, unevenly-hacked hairstyles or their over-the-top makeup looks which included piling on blush, plenty of glitter and fake beauty spots — and lots of tattoos, oh my god, so many tattoos — MySpace staples like Kiki Kannibal and Zui Suicide were influencing the beauty choices of an entire generation. I was too chicken to dye my hair pink or get a facial piercing, but I bought my very first Nars Orgasm blush because Hanna Beth said it was her go-to. If these people had a second shot at internet fame today, they'd all be extremely rich.
Alas, most of these people have since moved on: Vanek is a co-host on the podcast-turned-tv-show "LadyGang" (fun fact: with fellow Ryan Ross ex Keltie Knight!), Hanna Beth was a contestant on the reality show "House of DVF" and Kitching has apparently built a business for herself as an energy healer (or complete fraud, depending on whom you ask). Only Star managed to turn his 15 seconds into million dollar paychecks, launching his own beauty line — and staying controversial in the process.
Since the days of MySpace, I haven't seen that kind of mass aesthetic influence, but that all changed when I somehow stumbled into the world of TikTok Egirls and Eboys. Everything about this phenomenon pulls me back into my Top 8: There's signature hairstyles (a '90s-esque, floppy middle part for the boys and girlish pigtails for the ladies), a go-to makeup style for both (drawn-on hearts and blush applied to the tip of the nose) and a uniform that includes black-and-white striped shirts and plaid pants or skirts. The look is so distinct that it spawned its own meme on TikTok — the Egirl factory — and articles have begun to pop up detailing the most stylish people on the platform to follow.
Which, for me, begs the question: Is the TikTok Egirl the 2019 version of a Scene Queen? Is this generation of internet stars creating a whole new subgenre of style? If they were on MySpace, who would they put in their Top 8? Will they start dating rock stars and become famous in the mainstream? Should I dig up the password to my LiveJournal? Do they know a single song by From First to Last? Was it a mistake not to get a nose ring and a tattoo of a bow?!
Okay, now I'm just spiraling. My point is, while the "Instagram look" has been dominating for a while, TikTok Egirls and Eboys are the first internet denizens in a while to create something that feels subversive in aesthetic in the same way that Scene Queens did for the mid-aughts. It's pretty exciting — even if it makes me feel ancient in the process.