Gema is an 18-year old from Miami, FL. She loves reading and writing young adult fiction and claims to pass out in the presence of sterile wit.
Looking for the real definition of Emo has been like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Some claim that Emo is first and foremost a genre of music. It branches out to other subgenres that battle the other to truly define themselves as Emo. Some say that it’s a label placed on people who are emotional. These people claim that Emo kids are those who hurt on a different level than everyone else. On the flipside, there are those who say that it being short for emotional is merely a coincidence and an incorrect assumption.
So which is it? I think there’s so much confusion on the topic that it’s no longer about what truly is Emo. This isn’t like math, where you input information given by X to get what Y equals. This is more like poetry. What Emily Dickenson felt is not quite as important as what you feel when you read one of her poems. So it’s not about what adults think Emo is, but what the Emo kid thinks it is and why he/she thinks they fit that category.
I didn’t know what Emo was until I reached middle school. Even then, I didn’t know it had a label.
Since I was a little girl, I would always accompany my mom on errands. Whenever conversation struck, people started to ask how old I was. When the answer to that question began to be twelve and thirteen, the reaction was usually a pursed lip and a raised eyebrow. “She’s getting to that age.” “Enjoy her now, because she won’t want to be with you soon.” The assumption always was that I was about to rebel. Supposedly, it was as natural as getting my period and a face full of acne. I felt as though I was supposed to rebel in order to be a normal teenager.
Perhaps it was the age, but most of my friends felt the same way. Coincidently, there was a rise of the Emo scene in my community. We didn’t know the history of “Emo” and quite frankly didn’t care that it once started in Washington D.C. We didn’t even realize that it was Emo until a couple of years later. We just figured that no one understood us when in fact, we just didn’t understand ourselves. Being in middle school, we had very few sources of pain: our parents wanted to restrict us, teachers only cared about their paychecks and we’d never amount to anything in life, so why bother? This affected most of the student body. You expected this type of behavior from the average C students or worse, but the ones that I knew were honor students with impeccable records that would continue on to high school and are now Ivy League bound. Adults raised them on a pedestal but in other corners, these kids sang along to sad songs, wrote dark poetry and sometimes even cut themselves. In fact, I had a friend who was asked out by a boy who carved her name on his arm with a lead pencil. This was an Emo kid being romantic and his action was extremely common.
The fashion was simple: black tight clothing with a dash of color thrown in their elbow-length gloves or poetry covered converse. There were the side bangs that produced what my friends in high school called the Cyclops look because it covered one eye. And to follow up on the low self-esteem, being thin was an obsession. If you wore the clothes and appeared to weigh close to a hundred pounds, you were Emo, otherwise you were a fat rocker poser.
To those that claim that Emo is short for emotional, they’re part of a culture that advocates low self-esteem by telling the world that they don’t understand Emo kids because Emo kids hurt on a different level. In my opinion, the only people that can say that they hurt on a different level are people with clinical depression and/or personality disorders. Everybody hurts but not everyone allows the hurt to consume them so completely that it becomes their label. It’s an excuse for feeling bad and instead of working out their issues; they sink into a deeper depression. The dismal song lyrics are meant to communicate their emotions but they do more than that, they sink the Emo kid into a dark abyss until they feel worthless and useless. Those who say that Emo is about these sad emotions being misunderstood push away anyone who’s willing to help because if someone does understand them and tries to help, then they are no longer Emo and are no longer part of a category.
If Emo is simply a category of music, like Goth or Grunge or Classical or Pop are categories, then to each its own. Broadway musicals speak to me in a way that not many head bangers in my area will ever understand; so I can empathize with them as fans of a misunderstood genre even though I don’t like listening to it.
But in the end, I am not an Emo kid. Let them create their own definition.