The stamp ‘Euphoria’ left on Gen-Z and their outlook on self-expression

Written and photographed by Imogen Morris.


“I’m envious of your generation, you know. You guys don’t care as much about the rules.” -Cal Jacobs (Eric Dane)

In 2019, Sam Levinson’s TV teen drama ‘Euphoria’ was released, depicting controversial themes such as addiction, gender, sex, and violence, spiralling through a group of teenagers in high school. The show was a massive hit (now renewed for a second season following two bonus episodes), with a talented cast featuring Zendaya and Hunter Schafer. Euphoria is not the typical cringe teen drama - the beauty of its visuals are unlike many other TV shows I have watched; the whimsical cinematography created through a blur of purple hues and shadows, paired with a contemporary music score by Labrinth, and of course, its iconic endless glitter.


Euphoria is particularly known for its Emmy-winning non-prosthetic make up. The show uses beauty as a form of subtext; it delves deeper into how each character is feeling and portrays meanings that the dialogue doesn’t. It also mirrors and celebrates Gen-Z’s remarkable experimental and diverse nature. It became a symbol of freedom and expressionism for Gen-Z, marking teenagers with confidence and encouragement for individuality ever since its release. Each character wears make up that is usually only ever seen on the cover of a magazine or in a wild music video, until now: glitter, rhinestones, and graphic liner have become make up superstars to young people over the last couple years, with “Euphoria make up” trending everywhere you go, even influencing Hollywood red carpets and big fashion designers on the runway.


“Gen Z is completely redefining what makeup can and should be used to do, by embracing a total freedom in expression and defying beauty and makeup norms," Doniella Davy, Euphoria’s make up department head, told The Hollywood Reporter. "I love seeing how these young artists and humans are flipping the whole idea of beauty and makeup on its ass." She also says that she drew a lot of her inspiration for the shows looks from real teenagers on social media, which is ironic considering how many teenagers now look up to Davy’s make up creations.


The first time I watched the show, I was entranced by the elaborate looks, and it is essentially what got me so interested in portrait photography and editorial make up. When I finished watching the first season, I went to my local party store and bought a pot of silver glitter, rhinestones, and a bag of little silver confetti stars, which I later used to stick on my eyelids with eyelash glue. I began experimenting with eyeliner and colour; I’d walk downstairs for dinner on an average Tuesday night looking like I’d just left a 'seventies glam rock disco held by Val Garland, feeling like my most fabulous self. The show really helped me discover a new hobby as well as navigate my style – although I still have a long way to go with that – and it has done the same for so many other young people out there. Exploring vibrant, avant-garde make up looks shouldn’t be something to shy away from! Self-expression is a powerful tool, as well as important, and searching for yourself is a huge part of growing up, as scary as it can be.


It’s incredible how significant the impact of eight episodes can have on an such a large industry. From your daily scroll through social media to New York Fashion Week, Euphoria’s influence is evident still nearly two years after its release, and I can’t wait to see what looks season two will bring.

References

'How 'Euphoria' Is Influencing Beauty Trends and Red Carpet Makeup', Lindsay Weinberg, The Hollywood Reporter (Online): Available at: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/how-euphoria-is-influencing-beauty-industry-red-carpet-makeup-1237142

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