Ahegao – The gaze of pleasure – History, meaning, photos and videos.
Definition of Ahegao
The word ahegao (composed of the two parts ahe and gao) literally means panting or moaning face. It is a term derived from Japanese manga and pornography to indicate a particular and exaggerated facial expression associated with sexual pleasure.
It is characterized by eyes raised to the sky or unnaturally crossed, the tongue visibly out of the mouth, saliva or tears running down the face, and red cheeks.
Realahegao.com is the new ahegao’s hub on the web: we define the phenomenon, tell its story, study trends, provide the best updated material regarding videos, photos, live shows, queens and celebrities.
Ahegao: the Definitive Guide
Ahegao: ever heard this word?
Eyes turned towards the sky – or even crossed and turned in unnatural positions – cheeks slightly reddened, tongue pulled out, ostentatious and deeply provocative, sometimes even a drop of saliva left to slip and fall …
You may have seen girls, mostly young, imitating or parodying this sexy and deliberately exaggerated expression on social networks such as Tik Tok, Instagram, Facebook, Youtube.
Or maybe you’ve come across Japanese manga, cartoon, or video games that use this one-of-a-kind facial expression.
What is it about exactly?
The phenomenon, increasingly widespread in the Western world, is known as ahegao. And this particular pose of faces and facial expressions is what is called ahegao face.
In the next paragraphs we will analyze the ahegao phenomenon point by point, and precisely:
- Ahegao: what is it?
- The ahegao face
- What does the word ahegao mean
- How ahegao is born
- Ahegao psychology
- Ahegao clothing and objects
- Video games
- Where to find ahegao online
- The ‘Ahegao Queens’
- Make money online with ahegao
- Frequently asked questions
- Final thoughts
Ahegao: what is it?
Ahegao is a term derived from Japanese manga and pornography which indicates a particular and exaggerated facial expression (almost always female), generally during the sexual act.
It is characterized by eyes raised to the sky or unnaturally crossed, the tongue visibly out of the mouth, saliva or tears running down the face, and red cheeks.
This style has been frequently used, in various forms, in erotic manga, anime, video games, to represent an extreme expression of pleasure and ecstasy.
The effect, in manga, is deliberately surreal: to this end, the shape of the face is often distorted during the expression of ahegao.
Similarly, in real ahegao the expression of ecstasy aims to convey the idea of the protagonist’s total loss of control.
Ahegao is not synonymous with sex and pornography: it can be associated with the exaggerated and lustful representation of the sexual act, but it can also recall sex in a purely parody way, or it can be used in softcore contexts with allusive and provocative purposes.
The ahegao face
The modern evolution of ahegao revolves around the transposition of the manga into reality and the staging of the so-called ahegao face.
But how do you make a perfect ahegao face?
There are 3 fundamental and variously modular elements that must coexist in a harmonious, provocative and sensual way with each other:
- The mouth is open, and the tongue out (stiff or hanging down)
- Various body fluids appear visible. If tears are frequent in manga, in real ahegao it is saliva, which slips in small drops down the tongue, to be used most
- The eyes are – more or less unnaturally – turned upwards. This element can be modulated in different ways: it ranges from eyes almost completely turned backwards, to crossed eyes, to eyes pointed upwards just enough to convey a feeling of ecstasy.
These are the fundamental features. But other elements must also be considered.
There are faces that seem naturally suitable for this expression (for the features, the cut of the eyes, the shape of the lips), resulting effective and seductive, while others are much less so.
Or, the context can be broadened, requiring an interpretation of the ahegao face within a more complex role-playing game (cosplay).
The spread of ‘real’ ahegao, both in pornographic and non-pornographic contexts, is frequently associated with girls who wear special clothes, bright wigs and artistic make-up.
For this reason, and for the long manga tradition, cosplay is one of the most fertile grounds of ahegao, and enhances both the role playing and the fetish dimension.
Cosplayers contribute a lot to the popularity of these representations. In the continuous search for proposals for their active (and often numerous) fans, they have found in the ahegao a formidable vehicle for creating interest, interaction, seduction and loyalty on their followers.
In particular, the most frequently worn accessories in role playing ahegao are:
- wig (typically blue or pink, but often green or orange as well)
- manga ears (often in catgirl mode)
- tricks that make the appearance more cartoonish (getting the ‘red cheek’ effect typical of ahegao). As an alternative to make-up, the native graphic effects of video chat or video editors are often used (stars, colors, manga drawings)
Ahegao fetish has existed for many years, and attracts online tens (hundreds?) thousands of lovers of the genre every day, with a constantly growing trend.
Ahegao, in itself, is a concept intimately connected with Japanese manga pornography, from which it is born and takes strength. Over time, the cult towards the erotic / orgasmic expressiveness of sensual teenagers has progressively shifted towards live performances, videos and photographs of real subjects.
Hence, the today ahegao fetish is: a fetishism of sensually distorted faces in expressions of pleasure (more or less veiled sexual), with a cult of details such as
- inside of the mouth
often accompanied by particular moans of pleasure: the so-called real ahegao face.
In this sense, ahegao has synonyms such as gold-face, or simply O-face, to represent the same concept and facial expression.
But not only.
This form of fetishism is often associated with other fetish categories, where ahegao can be used as a coherent representation of certain situations and sensations. This is the case in the world of hentai BDSM and, sometimes, the fetish rape.
Whatever the scenario where it is represented, the idea of ahegao is always associated with the expression of intense pleasure, so strong as to transfigure the faces of actresses or social performers.
In summary: ahegao at some point goes from being a descriptive category of a type of orgasm in Japanese erotic manga, to consolidating itself as a fetish genre in its own right and widely practiced in the West.
Since real ahegao (the one played by real people and no longer confined to the Japanese anime world) has spread in the West to become mainstream, the figure of ahegao girls online has taken hold in a viral way and attracts hundreds of thousands every day. They are fans, followers or curious cybernauts from all over the world.
If we talk about ahegao girls, we generally mean young social networkers, or amateur youtubers.
Wandering around the web, it is easy to build a typical identikit: 18-24 years old, caucasian, social addicted.
We have already seen the phenomenon of cosplayers associated with ahegao, and we’re going to see the new one, done by erotic performers (camgirls or porn actresses) practicing a hard version of the ahegao face. However, the concept of ahegao girl generally refers to ‘normal’, non-professional girls, and has no pornographic references of any kind.
In conclusion: although it is often detached from real pornographic contexts, and also in its more social and generalist version (including challenges, stories, music videos), the term ahegao always carries with it a strong component of sensuality and malice.
What does the word ahegao mean
The term ahegao (composed of the two parts ahe and gao) literally means panting or moaning face. The first part of the term, ahe, is the abbreviation for aheahe, an onomatopoeic expression to represent female moans of pleasure.
There is a certain analogy with the word ikigao, which can be translated as orgasmic face.
The main difference between the two terms lies in the representations made of them in manga: ikigao is much more realistic, and represents a facial expression that is faithful to reality (or at least credible), while ahegao describes the expression of surreal and exaggerated pleasure.
How ahegao is born
The origin of the term ahegao can be traced back to the early 90s, and is linked to the world of Japanese erotic and pornographic magazines, to indicate the particular expression of actresses and models during orgasm.
FUN FACT: in certain contexts, the censorship of Japanese laws on the explicit ostentation of the sexual act has helped the birth of what we know today as ahegao. This in fact represents a creative response to the impossibility of depicting the penetrative act, with the goal of transmitting the perception of orgasm in a different way.
Having become quite widespread, during the early 2000s, in the adult video circuits, the term gradually expands within the anime and manga culture, and after 2010 it is permanently included in anthologies produced by the main producers of Japanese erotic comics.
In this period, a Reddit subreddit dedicated to ahegao was also born.
Increasingly consolidated within the hentai (i.e. pornographic) genre of manga and video games, over the years, however, ahegao is used in parallel in comics or representations of non-sexual content, with the usual purpose of parodistically exaggerating the facial expressions of the protagonists.
In recent years, with the advent of new social media such as Tik Tok and Instagram, influencers and cosplayers built their image and their audience through the staging of ahegao in all its possible forms.
The most important of these performers is Belle Delphine, which we will discuss later.
The ahegao face has many roots in oriental gamer culture and Japanese hentai.
Hentai is a Japanese word that can be translated as ‘abnormal’ or ‘pervert’, with specific reference to sexual perversion. On the web, hentai usually means everything that is related to erotic and pornographic manga.
Unlike hentai, ahegao does not, in itself, have a pornographic nature. However, the terms ‘hentai-ahegao’ or ‘ahegao-hentai’ recalls the representation of the ahegao face in pornography, thus defining a real sub-category of the vast hentai world.
Why does ahegao intrigue, ignite forms of fetishism, and often give a kind of pleasant addiction?
According to Khursten Santos, a manga expert and researcher at the University of Wollongong in Australia, the real purpose behind the concept of ahegao is
“Exaggerate the expression of orgasm to show that the character is receiving a stimulus superior to ordinary notions of pleasure”
Ahegao represents loss of control: a total capitulation in the face of an urgent and irrepressible need to have an orgasm.
For this sensory manifestation to be particularly effective and penetrating, the ideal performer is a young girl or a girl with extremely youthful (and ‘innocent’) features.
Still according to Santos, ahegao is now a sort of global emoji: a meaningful and universally understood expression that can replace words when they are no longer needed.
Why do people like it?
That said, it is natural to ask: how is it possible that so many people from different cultures are attracted to, or even obsessed with, a single facial expression?
Although it is an unnatural manifestation of ecstasy, there is something undeniably inebriating in the hyperbolic representation of pleasure.
Even more so, if it manifests itself on a face with certain characteristics (delicate, young and ethereal features).
On the one hand, there is always a streak of parodic reproduction of the female orgasm. On the other hand, the transfiguration of the face has an undeniable, disruptive – albeit irrational – sex appeal.
Whether it’s x-rated or non-pornographic images (like a girl’s simple face showing her tongue), the attraction to the manifestations of extreme female pleasure (ahegao is one of the most iconic among them) appears widespread, and keeps growing.
Trying the ahegao experience means allowing people to express and explore their sexuality without necessarily being naked or explicit.
Unlike other categories of eroticism, the reactions aroused by the performers – and fixed in the comments of the fans – are surprisingly kind and polite, and the attention – albeit in a rather atypical way – returns to being focused on faces instead of bodies. .
Why do men like it?
Men love the expression of female pleasure. With varying degrees of mental suggestion, they find it provocative and allusive.
Ahegao, however, strives for more than that.
The unconventionality of facial expressions and the exaggerated ostentation of pleasure trigger a very stimulating mental short circuit.
In the pleasure experienced in contemplating extreme female enjoyment, there is often the projection of every man’s fantasy: being able to lead a woman to such a loss of control.
This is not surprising: it is well known that, in most cases, the male dream of bringing a woman to extreme levels of pleasure is not direct interest in her orgasm, but indirect satisfaction in feeling ‘real man’ for this reason.
Why do women like it?
Of course, ahegao is a female show for a purely male audience.
Still, there are many girls and women who love him. The reason is not only the possibility of attracting attention and audience with very little effort (as mentioned, the success of an ahegao face is often disconnected from a truly pornographic or erotic show).
The actual point is the overcoming of the taboo linked to the ostentation of female pleasure. That is, it is seen as a beautiful expression of feminine sensuality (and sexuality): free, theatrical, pleasantly shameless.
All elements that, on the whole, make the woman or girl feel sexy. And free to be that way.
By simply making – and showing her audience – a face!
The allegations of sexism
With reference to the loss of female control and the association, in some manga representations, of ahegao and rape fetish, someone see a sexist and misogynist component in this practice.
However, as ahegao is redefining itself as an independent category from Japanese pornography, that label is losing touch with reality. The spontaneous, playful and often softcore practice of these scenes increasingly tends to redefine it as a mainstream role-playing game, often very popular with women as well.
Statistically, most ahegao ‘orgasms’ do not derive from couple sex, but rather from a woman who, in some way, gives herself pleasure.
Ahegao can be considered sexist like any other erotic genre, female image on the web, television show, or newspaper cover. However, it is not the expression itself, but the context, that defines its real features.
On the other hand, there is a strong controversy when it comes to ahegao-themed anime objects and accessories.
Ahegao clothing and objects
Ahegao, today, also means clothing and objects. This declination of the phenomenon is however quite recent. In 2015, an image of the hentai artist Hirune went viral on the internet: in that drawing were portrayed numerous anime characters with the ‘infamous’ ahegao face.
The following year, in South Korea, the image was recorded and used for cell phone cases and pillows. Shortly thereafter, the representation, and its variations, began to appear on clothes for young and very young people, coming into Western fashion in 2017.
Among the most popular garments, there is the ahegao hoodie (the typical hooded sweatshirt). But T-shirts, baseball hats, swimsuits and socks are also top sellers.
The typical theme of Ahegao clothing is the collage of numerous faces (sometimes dozens), depicting characters taken from various hentai manga.
Today these clothing lines are under discussion for their content considered sexist or pornographic by some. The debate has even led to the banning of all ahegao depictions from some of the most important anime festivals in the world.
Ban from anime events
The apex of this contrast between ways of thinking caused, in January 2020, the ban on all clothing and references to ahegao in the main anime festivals in the United States, leading many fans and cosplayers to desert in protest.
The problem – unrelated to online ahegao intended as the role playing of real cosplayers – are some depictions on the ahegao clothing lines (in particular the infamous ahegao hoodie) in which children or teenagers manga characters appear.
In any case, the decision was to consider the entire category inappropriate for festivals that attract an audience of families with children.
The surge in popularity of the phenomenon in recent years has led many cosplayers to create characters explicitly inspired by various forms of ahegao, as well as to design clothing ad hoc for the role.
In a short time the situation went out of control, and for the future it is foreseeable that cosplayers will only play their new characters online, and not at mass events such as anime festivals.
Another area in which ahegao has found many forms of representation over the years are video games.
Ahegao games belong to the eroge category, a genre of Japanese erotic video games. They were born in the early 80s, and they basically are computer games with sexually explicit content.
Ahegao is used here in its anime / manga (i.e. hentai) version: it indeed characterizes the facial expressions of extreme pleasure as a parody, but at the same time in a pornographic way.
Where to find ahegao online
Typically, contemporary ahegao is ‘real ahegao’.
If we analyze the trends of the net, looking for ahegao online means looking for ahegao girls and real life scenes.
Cosplayers and erotic performers on the net practice it, or even make it their distinctive sign. But it is perhaps among ‘social girls’, in a non-pornographic yet voluptuous and allusive context, that it is increasingly viral.
In 2021, we can say that ahegao has arrived everywhere. Raised as a ‘trope’ of hentai, it has now become mainstream and disconnected from the contexts in which it was born.
The trend of Google searches is impressive:
Source: Google Trends (november 2020)
For some years now, the ahegao expression on the face seems to be everywhere on the Internet, and in particular on mass social networks, thanks to its viral combination of ‘hot’ and ‘funny’.
In 2019 alone, there were nearly 400,000 Instagram posts tagged like #ahegao #ahegaogirls #ahegaoface #ahegaoqueen.
Tik Tok, thanks to a huge base of young female users (in the mood for exhibitionism and provocations), and to a format particularly suited to the genre (short and full of effects music videos), is invaded by creativity and ahegao-themed challenges.
Reddit, the world’s largest social news and entertainment forum, divided by thematic areas, has numerous ahegao subreddits, with more than half a million followers in the category.
Do not forget the ‘closed’ (i.e. paid) social sites used by influencers and small web celebrities: Only Fans and FanCentro above all. Here, you can access exclusive content for a monthly subscription fee, with a ‘social’ structure in which the girls’ profiles can be filtered by category and by type of material produced.
The erotic webcam sites
Another virtual place where ahegao has taken root is the erotic webcam sites.
Here it is establishing itself as an autonomous category (or tag) or in combination with related niches (cosplay, daddy, teen, schoolgirls).
On sites like Chaturbate, for example, it is possible to filter the performers in order to have a wide choice of girls who perform live in ahegao shows of various kinds. It is not difficult to find, at any time of day or night, 80-100 camgirls offering this kind of gig.
Last but not least, the big tubes dedicated to porn. Here you can access a vast amount of thematic videos on ahegao, also exploring the hardcore side of the genre.
The choice is wide and updated daily. However, this is not the most popular research field, because it often lacks the freshness and naturalness of social networks or live broadcasts via webcam.
The ‘Ahegao Queens’
With the explosion of the ahegao phenomenon, real celebrities of the genre begin to emerge.
Inside the communities of fans there are tons of ahegao-face challenges to crown new queens, while influencers – or aspiring ones – build their growing following on Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, OnlyFans, FanCentro.
Among the most famous queens of ahegao, a place of absolute pre-eminence is occupied by Belle Delphine.
The most famous character among the cosplayers who stage ahegao faces is Belle Delphine.
Mary-Belle Kirschner (her real name) is a South African model born in 1999 who lives in the UK, who has become extraordinarily popular, on social media and Youtube, as an erotic softcore cosplayer. In particular, her interpretation of the ahegao expressions, her attractive face, her seductive joviality, have made her an ahegao superstar.
… with almost 3 million followers on Instagram (now drastically reduced only due to the ban on her official account) and millions more scattered across Youtube, Reddit and Patreon!
She constantly produces cosplay-themed video and photographic material, interpreting numerous different styles and roles.
She sells objects and themed clothing lines, and has jumped to the newspapers headlines for being able, several times, to sell her followers the water she bathed in (at $ 30 a jar!).
For the ahegao fetish, she can be considered as the one who introduced the subgenus of braces ahegao: the mouth that shows, in the expressions ahegao, an adolescent dental appliance (loved by fans).
Make money online with ahegao
So far, we have analyzed all that can be called ‘ahegao’: its meaning, its representations, its origins, and its unstoppable global spread as real ahegao.
But in a world where the cult of the ahegao face has made many girls ‘little-big celebrities’ on social networks (almost by chance), and where the daily search for new material on the net involves ever larger and more active fan communities, are there chances to earn from all this?
In short: yes! and they are huge.
Leaving aside the striking cases of top influencers (obviously unrepeatable situations), the possibilities for monetizing your community of followers are vast and, like all still emerging niches, relatively little explored.
The main ways to make money with ahegao, without necessarily having to enter the world of explicit eroticism, are:
- grow your online community by bringing it to monthly subscription platforms
- sell exclusive material online (photos and videos, but also objects, clothes, wigs, fetishes)
- become a camgirl and position yourself in the ahegao niche within erotic webcam sites.
COMING SOON: we are preparing a complete step by step guide to start earning with ahegao (we will analyze monetization methods, recommended platforms, tax and legal aspects). If you are interested in receiving a private preview of our guide, you can contact us and ask us to be placed on the waiting list.
Frequently asked questions
What is ahegao?
The word ahegao (composed of the two parts ahe and gao) literally means panting or groaning face. The first part of the term, ahe, is the abbreviation for aheahe, an onomatopoeic expression to represent female moans of pleasure. It is a term derived from Japanese manga and pornography to indicate a particular and exaggerated facial expression associated with sexual pleasure. It is characterized by eyes raised to the sky or unnaturally crossed, the tongue visibly out of the mouth, saliva or tears running down the face, and red cheeks.
How is ahegao born?
The beginning of the use of the term ahegao can be traced back to the early 90s, and is linked to the world of Japanese erotic and pornographic magazines, to indicate the particular expression of actresses and models during orgasm. Having become quite widespread, during the early 2000s, in the adult video circuits, the term gradually expanded within the anime and manga culture. Over the years, however, ahegao is used in parallel in comics or representations of non-sexual content, and in more recent years, with the advent of new social media such as Tik Tok and Instagram, influencers and cosplayers stage ahegao in all its possible forms.
Where to find ahegao online?
Ahegao (both ‘real’ and ‘manga’) is widespread on many different platforms on the web. Firstly, there are social networks (especially Tik Tok and Instagram), where users compete in ahegao challenges, elect ahegao queens, or simply create viral videos or photos following the trends of the moment. There are many thematic videos on generalist platforms like YouTube, or pornographic sites like PornHub. Finally, there are live shows, both softcore and hardcore, on the erotic webcam sites.
Abandonment of the senses, loss of control, erotic ecstasy: the eyes that look towards the sky, the wide open mouths, the provocatively exposed tongues bring all that is ahegao to an extremely mental level, if one captures the erotic suggestion.
For a spectator, especially when distant and behind a monitor, the hallmark of a female orgasm is not in the genitals as in the male one, but in other elements: in the sounds emitted, in the movements of the body, in the expression of the face.
Ahegao is the best representation of all this. It is, in its simplicity, a deeply mental and strongly evocative experience of fantasies.
And also – or above all – one of the strongest erotic trends of the moment: therefore a new market that is opening up and in which spaces are still relatively little manned.