Emo is a slang term used to describe a range of fashion styles and attitudes somewhat affiliated with emo music and its related scenes. As an adjective, emo can describe a style of fashion or music; or a general state of unhappiness or melancholy (as in "to feel emo"). Emo is also used as a noun, often pejoratively, to identify a member of the "emo scene" or someone viewed as fitting the "emo" stereotype.

For more than a decade, the term emo was used almost exclusively to describe the genre of music that spawned from the 1980s DC scene and the bands inspired by it. However, during the late 1990s, as emo music began to emerge into popular consciousness, the term began to be used as a broader reference than its prior music denotation.

The origin of the word emo itself is unclear. In a 1985 interview by Rites of Spring in Flipside Magazine, members of the band noted that some of their fans in DC were starting to call them "emo", arguably because of the state of emotion that the band displayed during their shows. In later years, the word emo was viewed as a contraction of "emotional hardcore" or "emocore", which was the popular designation of the music genre.

A younger contingent insists that emo is a contraction for "emotive hardcore". However, no primary source has been found to confirm use of that term prior to the mid-1990s. At the same time, numerous sources cite the use of "emotional hardcore" dating back to the mid-to-late 1980s.

In recent years, as its use has come to define more than just the music, the word emo has more often been viewed as simply being short for "emotional".

Bands like Dashboard Confessional began to popularize a more dramatic and personal style of "emo", which used lyrics that had a far greater appeal amongst teenagers experiencing life and love for the first time. As the lyrical content shifted, and as the genre began to enter the mainstream, the term "emo" started to be used more often to describe what was perceived by those outside the scene as the overwrought melodrama of the music. The perception was that melodrama was feigned, an effort to display depression or dysfunction where it didn't actually exist. Popular comments such as "don't be so emo" and "cheer up, emo kid" expressed the belief among detractors that fans of emo music took themselves too seriously.

As major labels began categorising more diverse bands under the "emo" label, varying styles of music and dress began to be conflated as well. The style of bands like Taking Back Sunday, Thursday, From First to Last and Panic! At the Disco, including their use of makeup (particularly black eyeliner) and longish hair (often covering one eye or the face) began to be associated with emo.

There are two popular forms of dress that are considered emo. The first is essentially derived from the 1990s "indie emo" scene, and has connections to indie rock and punk rock. It includes more vintage and thrift store clothing, typically for a well-worn look. Some of the clothing leans toward khaki colors. T-shirts are typically of smaller sizes, and with various prints, often images from the 1980s. Bags and backpacks often have pins and patches of various bands.

The other popular style of dress focuses on darker colors. Commonly seen styles include straightened, dark colored hair, dyed either black, red, multi-colored (brown and black, red and purple, etc.) which covers one eye, or an unnatural dark hue, males wearing pants tailored for females, lip, eyebrow, and labret piercings, and dark make-up on males and females (most notably black eyeliner, although red eyeshadow is becoming increasingly popular). A common accessory for both males and females is glasses with a dark coloured (usually black), thick rim, a style sometimes even worn by persons who do not require corrective eye-wear.

Converse All-Star style shoes are common amongst both styles of dress, as are Vans and other skate shoes.

While "emo" is often used to describe the dress and attitudes of fans of emo music, "emo" as a musical genre and "emo" as a slang term are largely separate. "Emo" as a musical genre long pre-dated the use of "emo" as a slang term. At the same time, most current bands are labeled "emo" unwillingly, largely because they share some of the fashion trends and attitude associated with "emo" as a slang term.

There is also a common stereotype that associates "emo" with self-harm, most notably cutting wrists, partly due to song lyrics associated with "emo" bands, which often speak of acts of self-destruction. However, apart from the anecdotal, there is no significant evidence of any correlation between emo and self-harm.

The term "emo" has also been used in recent years on the Internet as a form of insult, especially toward those who appear emotionally unstable, or those who talk about issues in their lives to people in public forums or chat rooms. Similar to popular curses, it tends to be used as a general insult even when it is not directly applicable. Phrases such as "cheer up, emo kid" are used frequently as a quick brush-off in this context. Some use the term "emo" to describe a feeling of depression, alluding to the association of depression with the "emo" subculture. Also, when something is warped, especially in colour, it is described as having "gone emo." for example "my printer's gone emo on me."Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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