Ahegao, also called gapeface, is a facial expression common in hentai and ecchi media. Features typically include an open mouth, sometimes outstretched tongue, and unfocused eyes. This term became more commonly known due to the growing popularity of ahegao clothing. These garments, usually hoodies, feature collages of characters' faces baring the ahegao expression. The term grew to further prevalence due to its use by adult cosplayers, internet personalities, and members of the budding e-girl and e-boy subculture.
Aheago was first used to describe climax expressions in 1960s Japanese erotic art communities. The term grew in usage and the expression description was often used in Japanese adult magazines in the 1990s. The term was further proliferated by the growing otaku subculture and rise of digital spaces, like forums and chatrooms. Aheago becoming a more widely recognized trope simultaneously led to a character's features being further exaggerated when it was used in adult material, and toned down versions of the expression appearing in materials intended for wider audiences.
As this media began international distribution, Aheago quickly became a widely recognized trope and term in global anime and related media fandoms. By the mid 2010s, sub-communities began repurposing this trope in a variety of unique ways.
Ahegao clothing stems from a collage of various hentai characters baring the expression created by the artist Hirume. In 2016, images of this collage applied to shirts began appearing online and soon, individuals could order custom shirts featuring the collage. By the late 2010s, various garments of clothing featuring a variety ahegao colleges were available both online and in the anime convention scene. Ahegao hoodies in particular became widely recognized and memes relating to the clothing flourished.
In 2018, hentai artist Asanagi created ahegao apparel featuring higher quality images. This garments are available through the English hentai localizer and publisher FAKKU, but unofficial versions remain just as common.
In Cosplay and E Subculture
In the late 2010s, ahegao became increasingly common among adult cosplayers and members of the e-girl and e-boy subculture. There are several higher trafficked subreddits centering on real people baring the expression in various situations and forms of dress. In particular, internet personality Belle Delphine grew to fame for posting photos and images of her performing ahegao. The expression has also become fairly commonplace on the TikTok social media platform.