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The Art of Euphoria | Aimee Han

This article contains spoilers for Euphoria Seasons 1 & 2

Let me take you on a bit of a wild journey. As the pen gracefully glides across the valuable face, it leaves an astonishing white trace behind that is reminiscent of the scribbles we viewed with pride in our elementary school art exhibits. Some days, the pen molds its remnants onto one’s glistening skin in the formation of clouds in an expression of carrying energy in their soul that yearns for childlike wonder and feeling at peace. Other days, the pen removes itself from such nostalgic duties and transforms itself into pops of color: red acting as one’s duty to self-empowerment, pink that artificially forms a rosy blush traditionally associated with love, blue associated with feeling some blues (in honor of the words of many of our high school English teachers), purple manifesting itself into soothing one’s spiritual energy and evoking one’s creativity, while brown remains true to its roots and acts as a revelation of one’s inner strength. And on some occasions, the pen chooses to leave glitter evocative of fairy or pixie dust, not only representative of one’s appreciation for realms beyond reality but also a symbol of defiance towards materialistic societal values and most notably, Euphoria.

Yet it must be said that Euphoria is not just a hit teen television series available for streaming on HBO Max and also illegally pirated websites (you didn’t hear that from me). Euphoria is a feeling of intense elation or happiness, otherwise known as remaining in a hyperdimensional trance, a state of being aware of one’s own existence while simultaneously seeking outlets to creatively express and digest one’s emotions that are far more nuanced than commonly well-known peak life experiences.

And over this past decade, many fashion, makeup, and cultural trends have revived themselves, almost a modern-day Renaissance in some sense. As a result, teen TV shows exhibit such trends, but most of them fall short as they cast actors well into their twenties or even thirties to play sophomores in high school who have fallen behind on the latest teenage trends, ranging from slang like “girl” and “slay,” to continuously misportray the thoughts and perspectives of adolescents by portraying dramatized and unrealistic scenarios (one must note, however, that entertainment is not reality, and neither is reality television – sorry Bachelor[ette] fans). Yet what many shows have failed to do is to take an innovative approach, something that shows like Euphoria have been able to accomplish. I mean, not only does society love Zendaya but we truly appreciate the artistic approach the writers, producers, and makeup artists have taken with the show.

Henceforth, makeup artists on set like Doniella Davy have arguably started some sort of revolution, transforming the way society and impressionable generations like Gen Z view makeup as an art form rather than an attempt to live up to the never-ending and ever-changing societal beauty ideals. For instance, the show often focuses in on the excess of holographic glitter residing on many of the characters, such as streaks of glitter tears rolling down Rue’s face (a teenage drug addict played by Zendaya) when in a hypnotic trance when falling in love with Jules (a whimsical teenage girl played by Hunter Schafer); this in and of itself is genius, as glitter is indicative of a euphoric emotion taking place, love, which in a scientific format is known as the drug oxytocin, implying that Rue is replacing her drug addiction with an emotional one. Throughout the first season, Jules is seen often wearing “minimalist” makeup as outlines of white clouds, or yellow eyeshadow indicative of the sun’s aura, or pink and green eyeshadow representing Jules finding a sense of security and comfort in Rue; she is also often seen blushing around Rue, hence the pink eyeshadow. The bright pops of color may represent the bright future ahead of Jules and her spontaneous nature, however as the series progresses into the second season, she is often seen wearing sharp black eyeliner reminiscent of spider webs, possibly an implication of how she is entangled with Rue but how Rue may not be the best for her; Rue’s drug addiction seems to be burdensome on both in the relationship.

Other notable mentions include how Maddy Perez, a high school “it” girl (played by Alexa Demie) is often seen with intensely thin and intricately sharp black eyeliner almost as her weapon of choice when going into “battle,” referring to dealing with her abusive ex-boyfriend Nate (played by Jacob Elordi) while also rocking glistening silver eyeshadow as she appears to be the life of the party. Cassie Howard, Maddy’s best friend (played by Sydney Sweeney), is seen in the second season with pink blush tones that symbolize her innocent nature and small rhinestones that glamorize her to appear as a work of art in terms of the male gaze; Cassie is known for being unaware of her true worth, often being taken advantage by her male peers as she seeks unconditional love from men due to the fact that she was abandoned by her father at a young age.

And this is just the depth of the makeup looks behind just a few characters. Furthermore, it’s worth mentioning that even beyond the brilliance of the makeup looks, the second season was shot all in film in an attempt to portray the story as looking back into a high school memory.

Thus, not only has Euphoria and its makeup artist Doniella Davy revolutionized makeup for adolescents who are watching the show, as more sparkly and unique looks are trending on social media, but also as a means of advancing the storyline in a film with art. In times like these, it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it's comforting to know that art finds its way into our lives to convey emotions that are not easily uttered aloud, as means of humanizing our imperfections, and expressing ourselves in liberatory ways to pursue our own happiness, or for this article’s sake, the pursuit of euphoria.

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