How to Be Emo (with Pictures)

Table of contents:

How to Be Emo (with Pictures)
How to Be Emo (with Pictures)

From the suburbs to the coast, from Mexico to Iraq, teens have introduced themselves as "emo" for years and still manage to confuse and confuse the mainstream. What is emo? What does it mean to be emo? Based on the melodic aggressive-and-complicated hardcore music of mid-'80s Washington DC, emo has its roots in punk rock but has evolved into many styles, sounds, and cultures ranging from indie rock to pop punk. Emo are really big and this is where they live. If you want to learn about its history, music and culture to start taking part in emo culture, you've come to the right place. See Step 1 for more information.


Part 1 of 3: Understanding Emo

Be Emo Step 1
Be Emo Step 1

Step 1. Keep an open mind

Ask fifty emo-dressed kids a question to explain about emo and you'll probably get twenty completely different answers. To a casual music fan over the last few decades, the only thing that seems to be able to make a person an emo is his ability to argue endlessly about the differences between indie-emo, screamo, emo pop, and emocore, neither of which is really important to explain the point or for true emo fans.

"Emo" has been used to describe various types of ever-changing music for over thirty years. It's hard to pin down, so don't try to break it down. The first criterion for being a good emo? Inclusive. Don't get caught up in stupid arguments about what "true" emo is or isn't. It doesn't make you an emo, it just makes you a bully

Step 2. Know what emo is

Emo not about self-harm or self-hatred. These are just normal things that happen to humans and have existed in humans since the beginning of time. Emo stands for emotional hardcore and is a subgenre of hardcore punk that started in the 1980s. In the 1990s, bands such as Sunny Day Real Estate, Jawbreaker and Jimmy Eat World were coincidentally called emo because of the emotional content of their lyrics. Since the 1990s, emo has also had its roots in indie rock and pop punk. Bands like Texas is the Reason, Thursday, Sunny Day Real Estate and Cap'n Jazz are emo bands.

Be Emo Step 2
Be Emo Step 2

Step 3. Examine the roots of the emo tree

"Emo" was first used to describe a hardcore punk band in the DC area who wrote lyrics that were more professional and personal than the more traditional hardcore punk bands. Influenced by the pioneering hardcore bands Minor Threat and Black Flag, bands such as Rites of Spring and Beefeater wrote professional and personal lyrics in their hardcore songs which led to the term "emotional hardcore" and eventually "emo." So, at first, emo was a fairly small local scene in the DC area that caught people's attention.

In the early '90s, bands such as Jawbreaker and Sunny Day Real Estate began to fly the emo flag, except the sound of these bands was not at all like the early Washington DC emo. Influenced by Californian pop punk and indie rock, these bands have more memorable and personal lyrics, writing songs with a fast-paced, melodrama-filled structure

Be Emo Step 3
Be Emo Step 3

Step 4. Get to know the latest developments in sound emo

Emo made a big splash in the 2000s, with Victory Records bands like Taking Back Sunday, Thursday, and the Used patenting the signature genre of "screamo" music that harkens back to emo's hardcore roots. It's big, loud, and very popular music.

Simultaneously, Dashboard Confessional starred in a kind of emo that featured an acoustic guitar and a big chorus, but sounded more like acoustic folk than Black Flag. These two different directions make it very difficult to categorize emo in, say, 2005

Be Emo Step 4
Be Emo Step 4

Step 5. Develop a passion for different types of music

In general, all emo music has two things in common: big, fast, highly melodramatic guitar-based music, which can be aggressive and harsh or acoustic and soft, containing explicitly confessional and personal lyrics, often about heartbreak and sadness. lonely. The Used doesn't sound like Death Cab for Cutie which doesn't sound like Jawbreaker. Then, how? They are all emo bands. Choose the sound you like and don't listen to what you don't.

If you want to dress up emo and listen to Sunny Day Real Estate, go for it. If you also have Lady Gaga, Johnny Cash, and Cannibal Ox on your iPod, that doesn't make you any less emo. A true "emo" is someone who is passionate and knowledgeable about the diversity of music and takes pride in the flavors it contains

Be Emo Step 5
Be Emo Step 5

Step 6. Define emo for yourself

It's like the term "hipster" or "punk" to call an "emo" an insult. It's fairly common for young people--who want desperately to be a part of something--to try and jump into something "cool" without really knowing about it. Being seen as a "fake" or a "scam" is at the heart of much of the controversy about emo. That is why there is widespread violence against emo children in Mexico and Iraq. That's why YouTube's endless stream of comments is full of immature and outspoken arguments about whether or not Bullet for My Valentine is really emo.

Whereas someone with dark hair and eyeliner who listens to Dashboard Confessional in Columbus, Ohio may be considered emo by many, a Californian blonde who surfs and listens to Dashboard Confessional might consider herself an emo too. Treat this as an opportunity for everyone to appreciate music

Be Emo Step 6
Be Emo Step 6

Step 7. Check out the bands for tips

For tips on music, the definition of "emo," and fashion, check with the people who made the music for advice. Look at who they listen to, who influences them, what they read, and what they recommend. Learn straight from the source.

Like grunge or "jamband" music, most bands referred to as "emo" or "emocore" may disagree with that designation and prefer to simply be referred to as rock bands. It's a sloppy term used by rock journalists and attention-seeking fans to categorize completely different things in completely different areas at different times. Don't care if something is "real emo" or not but care about whether something is good or not

Part 2 of 3: Participating in Emo Culture

Be Emo Step 7
Be Emo Step 7

Step 1. Appreciate Emo music

From Thursday to Jimmy Eat World, Weezer to Brand New, Empire! Empires! (I Was a Lonely Estate) to Paramore, everyone identified as emo has an active and passionate interest in emo music. Try a few different bands to find out what you like. If you like what you hear, keep exploring sub-genres like screamo and emocore to find out what you like best. It doesn't matter if you don't like the music. You can still express your emotions through make-up and lifestyle. Here's a brief, incomplete, and imperfect basic guide to some emo bands to get you started. You may not like it and remain an enthusiastic emo listener. Does not matter. If you want to take the first steps to get started, try listening:

  • Rites of Spring - Rites of Spring
  • Embrace - Embrace
  • Sunny Day Real Estate - Diary
  • Weezer - Pinkerton
  • Dashboard Confessional - Swiss Army Romance
  • The Get Up Kids - Something to Write Home About
  • I Hate Myself - Ten Songs
  • Thursday - Waiting
  • My Chemical Romance - I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love
  • Taking Back Sunday - Tell All Your Friends
  • Hawthorne Heights - The Silence in Black and White
  • Silverstein - When Broken is Easily Fixed
  • Texas is the Reason - Do You Know Who You Are
  • The Promise Ring - Nothing Feels Good
  • Jimmy Eat World - Clarity
  • Jawbreaker - 24 Hour Revenge Therapy

Step 2. Know about the emo subgenre

This can help you identify the type of emo music you will enjoy. If you hate one style of emo, try another. Here are some of the emo genres:

  • Emocore - Short for emotional hardcore, emocore is a subgenre of hardcore punk from the 1980s. Started in Washington DC with bands like Rites of Spring and Embrace. This genre combines punk with emotional lyrical content.
  • Indie emo: Indie emo began in the 1990s when emo changed its roots and expanded beyond just plain punk rock. These emo bands are more independent than punk. Some of the bands in this genre include Dashboard Confessional, Further Seems Forever, Sunny Day Real Estate and Mineral.
  • Emo pop: Emo pop began in the 1990s during the regeneration of emo and blended emo with pop punk. Some of the bands include The Get Up Kids, Jimmy Eat World, Paramore and The Starting Line.
  • Screamo: Screamo is a subgenre of emocore that involves screaming and usually fast tempos, dynamics between loud and soft and sometimes unconventional song structures. Some of the bands include The Saddest Landscape and Orchid.
Be Emo Step 8
Be Emo Step 8

Step 3. Go to a concert

At first, emo was just a small local scene that attracted national attention. In this way, a movement began which is now worldwide. Get in touch with a genuine impulse by visiting a local concert in your city. It's one of the first steps to going on the Warped Tour and checking out the national bands you hear, but it's another thing to check out and support local emo bands trying to start a career.

Volunteer to help out at concerts for all ages and DIY clubs that will perform. Distribute flyers and make friends with other bands. Check out local zines and participate in the scene

Be Emo Step 9
Be Emo Step 9

Step 4. Cultivate a creative persona

In general, the emo subculture values art. Painting, composing music, writing songs, and expressing yourself creatively are all important ways to participate in the emo subculture. Find ways to express yourself and devote your free time to perfecting your artistic instincts. Write poetry and turn your words into songs. Write reviews about emo music and start a music blog.

Be Emo Step 10
Be Emo Step 10

Step 5. Consider playing an instrument

Being able to play an instrument either alone or in a band will give you great credibility and will be a fun way to engage with emo firsthand. Start writing your own songs and playing your own music and you will actively participate in a creative culture.

Try playing bass or guitar, or maybe even the violin, which sound great in emo songs if you spend enough time on them. Drums may also be an excellent instrument, as drummers are always needed by all types of bands

Be Emo Step 11
Be Emo Step 11

Step 6. Read a lot

Emo is a subculture that prides itself on self-exploration, intelligence, and feelings. Start reading contemporary and classic emo novels and books:

  • Everybody Hurts: An Essential Guide to Emo Culture by Trevor Kelley and Leslie Simon
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  • It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
  • Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
  • The Razor's Edge by W. Somerset Maugham

Part 3 of 3: Seeing the Part

Be Emo Step 12
Be Emo Step 12

Step 1. Comb your hair

Until the mid-2000s, there was no true emo hairstyle. "Emo hair" usually refers to the typical layered haircut in which the long bangs are combed and styled to one side, usually using mousse to keep the hair in position. Emo hair is usually dark or dyed, sometimes featuring light blonde or other "punky" colors.

For emo hair, start with letting your bangs grow, but still have a neat cut at the back of your neck. Pull the bangs evenly over your eyebrows and apply mousse or hair gel. What is sometimes also popular is to straighten the hair at the back of the head, namely the cowlick style (crested)

Be Emo Step 13
Be Emo Step 13

Step 2. Create a "geek chic/nerdy" look

Featuring a Rivers Cuomo cardigan and horn-rimmed glasses, this look was popularized by emo in the mid-'90s when emo became mainstream. It's basically a cool looking smart kid look. To do this view, you will need:

  • Glasses (preferably thick black frame)
  • Tight jeans
  • Wearing a sweater vest or cardigan
  • Chuck Taylor All-Stars (canvas shoe brand)
  • Emo band t-shirt
Be Emo Step 14
Be Emo Step 14

Step 3. Try the screamo look

The genre that rose in the mid-2000s brought with it patent hairstyles and dress codes. Almost all black. To get this view, you will need:

  • Dark tight jeans
  • V-neck t-shirt in black or white
  • Skate shoes, such as Vans or Airwalks
  • Swoop bang haircut, usually dyed black with some bright highlights
  • Japanese Yakuza style tattoo or koi fish tattoo
  • Piercings in the mouth
  • Spiked belt or white belt
  • Keychain from carabiner
Be Emo Step 15
Be Emo Step 15

Step 4. Try androgynous dress up. The style is mostly the same for emo boys and girls. Haircuts, clothing, and make-up tend to work for both sexes, resulting in a distinctive and androgynous look.

If you wear eyeliner, it is better to apply it thinly and down your eyes. Don't overdo it with make-up. Betty page-style lipstick in cherry color is also commonly worn by girls

Be Emo Step 16
Be Emo Step 16

Step 5. Get used to wearing a hoodie (hooded sweater)

Almost all emo styles involve some way of dressing or another old-fashioned way: hooded sweaters. It's possible to give the hoodie a distinctive emo flair, however, it just takes a little extra effort to do. Most emo hoodies are black and tight, sometimes featuring a band badge or a small amount of white trim.

Make a hole for your thumb on the sleeve of your hoodie. Wear your hoodie with your thumb stuck in the hole to keep you warm in winter


  • Don't be emo unless that's who you really are. Find your own style and develop it.
  • Don't confuse emo with goth. Goths are those who like music like Joy Division, Samhain, The Cure or Bauhaus and their appearance usually wears more black and dense clothing.
  • Remember that being emo doesn't mean you have to wear black. In fact, emos can often wear lighter colors.
  • You may get negative criticism by your friends who are not emo and probably most of society if they are not emo, so just ignore them.
  • Don't be confused by the emo scene. Scene is just a term for people who see types like Dot Dot Curve and Brokencyde. They have tight neon jeans or cigar pants, party vibes, neon colors, big hoods and the same hair but more stylish. They love music like Blood on the Dance Floor, Breathe Carolina and 3OH!3.
  • If someone asks you if you hurt yourself or are depressed, just ignore it or don't answer. If they ask you, chances are they will, their opinion is already made and your agreement won't change it much.
  • Don't feel like you have to wear eyeliner to look emo. Many people who dress emo, in fact, don't wear eyeliner. Especially the men. You can see the emo boys on Google Images. You shouldn't feel compelled to paint your nails black. Most emos don't paint their nails black, especially the boys. This is actually pretty self-explanatory.
  • If you wear emo makeup, don't wear too much or very heavy makeup if it's black! You'll look more like Alice Cooper, Gene Simmons or Marilyn Manson.
  • When shopping, remember that you don't have to buy something too expensive. Emo is really not about clothes, you don't even have to shop to get what you need. Simple clothes are enough.
  • Some people (mostly online) will harass you because of your style.
  • If you use eyeliner, don't be afraid to apply it on the inner eyelid and below the lash line.


Popular by topic