When My Chemical Romance announced their return in 2019, thousands of devoted fans rose up from their emo graves, ferociously drawing eyeliner back on and declaring ‘see, it was never a phase!’ The idea of the ‘emo’ style left the mainstream when it was buried below the indie, 2016 glam makeup aesthetic of the late 2010s. Many of us, me included, loved emo music, the aesthetics of the emo world but left the black skinny jeans in the closet in search of something new. Whilst we all joked it was never a phase as we sung old Panic! At The Disco songs to ourselves, the idea of the emo look being desirable fell out of favour.
I have a lot to thank the emo community for, my love of horror films, rock music and the ability to see the beauty in the morbid all came from the endless heatwaves I spent inside on tumblr, listening to old Green Day on Spotify as I reblogged thousands of memes. As tumblr stopped being as popular and fashion moved from side swept bangs to centre partings, I fell out of love with wearing emo clothing and having choppy layers put in my hair. I felt as though I had to evolve to be seen as an acceptable young adult. It was never a phase, just something I now had to express privately rather than publicly.
It happened to many of us, most of my once emo friends have grown up. They dress in beautiful cottage core clothing and natural makeup that shows their true beauty. We all still talk about emo music, revel in it, but their true selves don’t have to dress emo. Their beauty lies in other things and that level of self evolution is a critical part of growing up. I tried to follow along, having blonde hair and wearing soft colours, fabric jumpsuits and appearing more natural. I wanted to be seen as softly as they did, but it was not for me.
It felt like a lie, as though I was performing what was expected of me. The trend cycle was telling me to appear more natural, cottagecore-esque so I obeyed, following what I saw on the internet in an attempt to be part of the trend, follow the curve and be as beautiful as the people I saw online.
One of the greatest curses of the age of the internet is the trend cycle. We see a trend, rush to follow it, changing our entire identities to fit the desired standard for that month. Fashion trends are spun around and spat out so quickly that if one has even the slightest interest in following them they feel as though they are changing their body every single month. For a lot of us, who are interested in fashion but their own type of fashion, these curves can feel restrictive and limiting.
What is a curse is also a blessing. When the emo phase left the mainstream, we all assumed it would never return. But we were all wrong. When the e-girl style of lockdown hit, it felt like a new version of the emo trend. A new beginning into black hair dye, thick eyeliner and smokey eyes. For me, seeing this trend made me rekindle my love of emo style, something I had kept behind closed doors for many years at risk of being rejected. Now, it was mainstream and appealing. It was the ideal.
Whilst the trend for the e-girl style has been and gone, many traces of it still remain. Lockdown and the pandemic taught a lot of us that self-expression is arguably more important than following a trend. Sure, trends are fun, they will always be a fun way to experiment and find our own bodies. But something about letting go of the trend cycle by finding the one thing that speaks to you, present and past, is an empowering and wonderful feeling.
When I wear my My Chemical Romance tee, line the tightline of my eyes and put on a pair of chunky boots, I am not just fulfilling what I want to wear, I am wearing what I always dreamed I would ten years ago. I dress for my inner child, the style I loved once and still love. Trends come and go, and what is deemed fashionable now won’t be fashionable in a few years. Following trends can bring temporary joy, but sometimes it is more important to look at who you truly are rather than what is expected of you. It can bring empowerment to us and remind everyone around you that it is, indeed, not just a phase.