Emos (urban Tribe): History, Characteristics And Ideology

The emos are an urban tribe or subculture that is characterized by presenting an absolute contempt for the world that surrounds them, considering it an unfair, cruel and sad scene. They had their heyday during the 2000s and today it is a subculture in decline.

An urban tribe or subculture has as its main characteristic reflecting values ​​that are opposed to the commonly extended culture, they are groups of people who are dissatisfied with the environment, who believe in a particular ideology and seek to live according to said ideology through certain codes.

The emos fall under this definition of urban tribe or subculture, because they reject a society based on the superficial and commercial sphere that, according to them, offers nothing but misfortunes and injustices to its inhabitants.

Many consider that this subculture has become a fashion, that there are young people who look like emos, but who do not live according to their ideology. There have also been strong detractors, who have even led to violent and intolerant scenarios against emos.

The emos arose in a curious way and their way of thinking has very specific characteristics. The highlights of the urban emo tribe will be detailed below.

History of emos

The Emo subculture is directly associated with a musical genre that emerged in the mid-1980s. This is considered a subgenre of punk, with the difference that the music could be a little slower, and the lyrics of the songs much more emotional, with emphasis on sadness, melancholy and love.

Emo, as a musical genre, was born in Washington, United States, and it is considered that the band Rites of Spring was the main precursor.

In 1985 this band presented an album called “Rites of Spring”, which differed from punk and was part of the post-punk genre, called post-harcore.

Other bands, like Gray Matter and Embrace, developed this genre. Given the emotionality of its lyrics, this type of music eventually adopted the name “emotional hardcore”, until it was simplified into “emo-core”.

The term Emo characterized not only the musical genre, but also the people who identified with this type of music and who shared with it the great emotion in their forms of expression.


Among the ideas that constitute the foundation of the Emo subculture, gender equality stands out, and even the defense of homosexuality. They also despise the Church as an institution: they do not profess any religion and do not believe in gods.

The emos are also defined as detractors of the system, and reject the commercial sphere, especially brands and fashions. Ironically, many consider this subculture to have become a fad.

Characteristics of emos

Given the particular peculiarities in their appearance and behaviors, it is currently possible to see young people who exhibit the physical codes characteristic of emos, without complying with all the characteristics of this subculture.

The 5 main characteristics of the Emo subculture will be described below:

It is a lifestyle

Behind the clothing and physical appearance of emos there is a particular vision of the world.

They are usually young, between 12 and 20 years old. They usually come from middle or upper middle class homes, and they start from the conception that they are misunderstood by the society that surrounds them.

They have a position of nonconformity and at the same time of hopelessness in relation to the world. Their attitudes are a consequence of considering society as something miserable, which seeks at all times to treat people with dishonor and in a humiliating way.

Melancholic state

Emos live in a state of constant depression. Since they consider the world to be insulting and despicable, they feel miserable for being within this context, and they express deep hopelessness that they cannot do anything to reverse this reality.

They are very sensitive, which allows them to express their feelings , which are always related to sadness and discouragement.

They consider that they cannot be happy living in a context like the one they live in, and that they have no reason to cheer up. They live in a state of permanent unhappiness.

Face covered and made up

Both hair and makeup are very characteristic elements of emos. A fundamental element in the appearance of these people is that they cover half of their face with their hair.

Some state that the half of the face they hide has a specific meaning. However, others indicate that it is indifferent which half of the face is covered, because the reason for this covering is the desire to hide from that world that they do not recognize and despise.

They also usually wear strong eye makeup, with abundant black color, and used by both women and men.

This is so because they believe in gender equality and, in addition, it is another mechanism to refer to the darkness with which they associate the world.

Dark appearance

The emos usually use shoes with platforms, in order to look taller, and are usually thin. In fact, toSome psychologists have linked these people with a certain predisposition to anorexia, although it has not been established as an always present characteristic in emos.

The colors they wear when dressing are especially black and pink. This also responds to their position in relation to gender equality, since they seek to express that all people have some masculine and feminine characteristics within themselves.

Commonly, emos have abundant tattoos and piercings. This can be seen as yet another reflection of the contempt they feel towards society, and their interest in detaching themselves from it.

Although they are detached from fashion, there are certain brands that they tend to consume as they adapt to their dress patterns. For example, the shoes are usually Etnies, Converse or Vans, while the pants of brands like Diesel or Levis because they are piped.

In general, their style is very much associated with skateboarding, which is why Billabong, Famous star and straps, Fallen or DC are other common clothing manufacturers.

They tend to flagellate themselves

Since they despise the world around them and perceive it as a miserable environment, emos can have a tendency to self-flagellation.

It is common for them to have scars in different parts of the body, and that they even generate them between themselves, usually between couples.

They tend to mate romantically with each other, they feel good with people who share the same depressing vision of the world.

This subculture is generally related to the tendency to suicide, although it is not entirely considered a fundamental characteristic of the group.


Music plays an important role in the lives of emos. It is not by chance, since this is an urban tribe that was generated, initially, from a musical genre. One of the most successful musical groups among emos was My Chemical Romance.

Punk is usually the genre they listen to the most, highlighting Green Day, Fall Out Boy, 30 Second to Mars, Sum41 or Simple Plan.

Famous people who were emos at some point in their life

This culture was very popular at the beginning of the century, so many of the celebrities who caught them in their teens had an emo stage. Of course, of the majority there is not even a trace of this type of identity. We mention some of the best known:

Billie elish 

(2001) American singer and songwriter. The biggest current icon in the emo world. Her songs full of tragedy and unease have awakened a feeling that seemed forgotten.

Avril lavigne

(1984) Canadian rock and pop singer. A skate icon who also looked emo during his teens.

Selena Gomez

(1992) American actress and singer. Possibly more for fashion or advice, Selena looked emo for a time after ending her ties to Disney.

Taylor Swift

(1989) American singer and songwriter. The most obvious case. During her teens she was 100% emo, being something she has always been proud of.


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