Negative influence or simply a trend?
TEENAGE girls, whether in high school or college, face many biological changes and sometimes these changes can lead them to stray off the socially-acceptable path. When this happens, teenagers revert to outrageous fashion trends and mimic inappropriate behavior such as the Emo style to express themselves. Popular among many Western teenagers, Emos often express themselves through their clothes, make up, distinct hairstyles and have a particular liking for rock music. Critics, however, often accuse them of Satanism and say their lifestyle choices have negative psychological effects. Al-Sharq daily spoke to many teenagers who identify with the Emo subculture to better understand their association with this culture.
Don’t call me that
Hanan, a student, is often criticized for the way she dresses and dances and many even view her lifestyle choices as the way of the devil but she said just because she loves hardcore music does not mean she is Emo. “I just have a particular liking toward rock music and the singers and fashion trends of the genre,” she said.
Echoing a similar view was Atheer Ahmad who said her style of makeup, which consists of broad black eyeliner highlighted with a brighter color of eyeliner is only her way of following the latest beauty trends and has nothing to do with the Emo culture.
Is it contagious?
Najwa Saied proudly identifies herself as a Emo. She is fascinated with Emo culture and likes to highlight her hair with exotic bright colors like pink. Najwa constantly looks for what’s new in Emo fashion so she can adapt. Many school and college supervisors are unaware of the Emo culture and view the girls’ actions and apparel as behavior that must be corrected. Fashion choices that are of particular concern include the common practice among Emos to wear accessories that contain messages that seem to encourage suicide. Phrases such as “I want to die”, “I do not want this life” and “I hate myself” are cited by detractors as one of the reasons why Emo culture is a bad influence on the Kingdom’s youth.
Emos are also criticized for wearing dark and gloomy color combinations such as black and pink. Black represents their depressed feelings and pink represents the brighter side of life, which they will never reach. While dismissing the hype surrounding Emo culture, writer and academic Dr. Fowziah Abu Khalid said Saudi society should not occupy itself with every single trend that appears. “In most cases, it is simply an act of rebellion on the part of the youth. Such trends are very brief and temporal and pose no real threat to society. However, our current age is much more globalized than the past ages. All countries and cultures are exposed to each other and can be affected by both positive and negative traditions,” she said. Dr. Abu Khalid added that it is very important for society to allow such individuals to express themselves so they can develop their own local trends instead of looking to the West to satisfy their need to express themselves.
“What I know about Emo culture is that it is taken from a musical genre that has always had a rebellious undertone. Then it was drafted by the Western, capitalistic system and developed into a fashion trend and culture. It has its own makeup, hairstyle, and accessories.
“Some followers of the trend believe in extremities which defy our religion but it is important to remember that the Emo culture growing here is not the same Emo culture that exists abroad. It is just a commercial and capitalistic manifestation of trends found in fashion and music,” she said while encouraging people who have their doubts to hold an open discussion on the matter.
Psychiatrist Muna Yousef said Emo culture began in the 1970s as an American rock genre, which entertained the feelings of sadness and anger. Later on, teenagers adapted the distinct practices of covering their eyes with their bangs, dressing in all black and wearing accessories that have the skull and cross bones symbol. She believes teenagers follow the trend as an attempt to fill an emotional and/or spiritual void.
“The way this movement developed began with the musical genre and caught the attention of teenagers as it emanated feelings they undergo and encouraged rebellion and independence. As for our teenage girls, we must adapt a very understanding role and avoid making a big deal out of it if the girl’s belief in Emo culture and Islamic teachings do not clash. It is very important for a teenager to find an interest or hobby to pursue as trends and styles fade but interests can remain for years,” she said.