The Early 2000s are back

New Gen’s have finally healed their inner children and revived the nostalgia in glitzy glamour Y2K, emo & scene.

Photo by Amanda via Flickr | Furby was a well-known toy in the early 2000s.

From the moment social media was invented, it became the most popular method of communication and freedom of expression. It allowed people from all over the world to connect and learn about different cultures, lifestyles and beliefs. But even then, no one could have anticipated the unique and ever-expanding inspiration that the internet and pop culture could have on fashion. 

Internet and pop culture are the two most important components that make up the Y2K style: the excitement of entering an entirely new age, the 2000s, and the popularization of femininity and glamour. More specifically, women were now idolized for engaging in self-care for their own sake and not for the male gaze. We saw pop royalty, like The Spice Girls, pioneering hyper-femme aesthetics that are still relevant today. Shortly after, Brittney Spears and Paris Hilton also became the faces of this movement, adding the glitz and diva attitude that swept up a whole generation of teens. 

Y2K fashion has branched out throughout the years, but the core style is comprised of a few iconic elements, such as wearing all shades of pink, scrunchies, sparkly lip glosses, velour tracksuits, bedazzled phone covers, low-rise jeans, chunky sandals and crop tops. Most of these spurred from the celebrities listed above but also took inspiration from coming-of-age movies such as “Clueless,” “Mean Girls,” “Jawbreaker” and “Legally Blonde.” Later on, Disney added itself to the mix by creating series heavily dependent on the aesthetic, some of these being “Hannah Montana,” “Lizzie McGuire” and “That’s So Raven.” 

Photo by Stan Rogow Productions | Lalaine Vergara-Paras (right) from the show Lizzie McGuire.

It was also around this time that new social media sites were created, with the most influential pair being MySpace and Facebook. This was actually the peak of Y2K, for these websites allowed users to create art and allow them to customize their pages exactly as they wished to (forever missing the feature on MySpace that allowed you to add your favorite song to your page so that whenever someone opened it, it would play in the background). 

A certain community failed to relate to the original Y2K though, as internet culture also allowed for much negativity to flood throughout. Anyone who was deemed “different” was alienated, and for many teenagers at this time, bullied. Looking for escapism and perhaps some reprieve from the communities that rejected them, they explored cultures from the opposite side of the world. This is where that prevalent Western community found solace in anime and cartoons from popular channels such as Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon. 

In the arts, music-based cultures took inspiration from ‘90s trends such as punk and alternative. Bands began a new music genre, using the medium to vent about the superficiality in mainstream Y2K, dealing with social ostracization and battling mental illnesses. Thus, emo and scene were born. Through MySpace, YouTube, newly formed rock bands, and the iconic Hot Topic, emo and scene culture flourished. It was all skinny jeans, worn Sharpie-doodled converse, razor-shaven and brightly dyed hair streaks, fishnet gloves, kandi bracelets, nightcore song covers and eyeliner; like, A LOT of eyeliner. And let us never forget the internet slang singlehandedly created by all these angsty teens (I was one of them) : RAWR XD  

Photo by Curatoroflife via Wikimedia Commons | Actress Sasha Owens visits Selfie Utopia, wearing fashion that closely parallels early 2000s fashion.

Now, nearly 15 years after its original creation, Y2K, emo and scene have made a total comeback. The 2020s brought forth a new age of appreciation for nostalgia; finding comfort in a time that millennials and Zoomers didn’t know was pleasant. Pop culture has also jumped on the bandwagon and brought back some prominent icons of the Y2K childhood, such as the new Barbie movie, the new Bratz dolls that have grown with their audience and makeup companies selling nostalgic cartoon-themed sets such as the Lizzie McGuire-themed eyeshadow palettes. The overwhelming amount of stress and anxieties because of “grind” culture and capitalism have made it harder for younger generations to follow their passions. So, they have taken to traveling back to a simpler time when they were young (get the reference?). Allowing themselves to feel more joy than they used to. This leans a bit more towards emo and scene since these cultures revolved heavily around not being able to fit in; coping mechanisms to deal with the outside world and attempt to love themselves for their differences. 

The Y2K revival has become a more welcoming community, acknowledging the damage in glorifying celebrities and choosing to stay ignorant in an ever-expanding world. Both pink-glamour Y2K and alternative Y2K have taken to accepting themselves and others around them and being more vocal in social justice movements, especially those involving queer folk and POC, acknowledging the influence that black and trans women have had towards the aesthetics behind each Y2K community. 

I was personally so excited to see this resurgence. Many other movements have been recently popularized as well, but emo and scene really struck a chord with me. I also used to be a baby emo back in middle school, as it was the closest I could get to being goth while living in a strict household. Being bullied and never being able to fit in, I genuinely felt alone for the longest time. Thinking back, it genuinely was such a horrible time for me. But discovering anime, video games and emo bands gave me a safe space where I could be vulnerable and honest in a way that I never was on the outside. This is where I began experimenting with makeup and wearing black, and even though deep down I wanted to evolve into a goth. I was still content with the new hobbies I’d found. Now, I’m 23 years old and finally able to dress exactly how I want to. I look back on that young girl who hid and kept quiet and dreamed about looking exactly how I do now. That girl is now happy, and I can now enjoy the same things she did without any shame. 

“I don’t care. We’ll carry on.”
-Gerard Way, My Chemical Romance

Photo by Reprise Records | My Chemical Romance posing for a photo shoot to celebrate the release of their “Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge” album on June 8, 2004