Nuanced, Niche, or Neoteric?
Gender Expression, Representation and Dysmorphia in Euphoria: explored by Lucy Bulmer
Gender discussion and expression, especially in modern day cinema, has until now, been somewhat taboo. Euphoria’s new season cracks the cage of gender expression and gender transitions, illuminating the fact that, for Gen-Z, expression of gender manifests in many forms.
The series’ Trans consultant, Scott Turner Schofield, highlighted in an interview that the show seeks the “earnest desire to listen to trans individuals and accurately represent their experiences on screen”. Picking apart the costumes, makeup, and interactions between characters exposes the complex relationship between the individual and the question of gender. But how do the producers and designers of this iconic and contemporary show express these tensions? And how well do they do it?
Depicting gender dysmorphia, especially on screen, must be done-so conscientiously. Arguably, it should also be based on personal experience. Actress Hunter Schafer who plays Jules, encapsulates the genuine experience of gender dysmorphia by being transgender herself. When asked about her casting, Hunter said: “I had never acted before Euphoria, and it was not in my plan at all. I was really shy.” Nonetheless, Hunter’s role in this series depicts accurately just how hard being a teenager struggling with gender can be. Her costumes are —and continue to be—a talking point. She has appeared on screen adorned in labels from across the fashion world: from Orseund Iris, to NIHL, to Maroske Peech. These labels focus on the wearability of art, reminding us of Euphoria’s commitment to intensifying their characters, to creating characters with enough personality to fill entire rooms, even before they start talking. Gender is represented vividly and vibrantly; no costume is the same. When asked in an interview, costume designer Heidi Bivens said she wanted to “glamorise a certain lifestyle”, which we can all agree she has achieved extremely successfully.
The exploration of gender through clothing is becoming a social norm. Girls, boys, and everyone in-between is beginning to wear their identity on their sleeve, which shows like Euphoria have made possible. Young people now feel capable of expressing themselves in more ways than ever, and in whatever way that they choose, disregarding the stigma they have lived with for so long.
There are many differences in the costumes of the main characters; Rue’s costumes, for example, are ‘mainly thrifted’ according to Bivens. In the party, during the first episode, she was wearing a Jean Paul Gaultier vest top from 2004. Across the room, Maddie’s NYE outfit was all the glitz and glamour of a typical Euphoria party, showing off her chaotic character in a black cut-out Aiden-Euan AKNA dress with matching gloves. Gender identity is seen in every corner, of every room, in every episode; And nobody is the same. From typical all-American girl Cassie, to the rusty and real getup of Rue, the women and men in this series wear their personality as a cloak, distinct and different.
Gender is a spectrum, and it’s time to end the stigma. Gen-Z breaks down barriers of gender representation every day, and the girls and boys of Euphoria are no exception. How far can we stretch fashion to fit the growing waistline of gender? The answer: as far as we want.
Words by Lucy Bulmer
Photo credit: https://images.app.goo.gl/MeHtLfdLWkiecdpQ9 | https://images.app.goo.gl/rKxmtVmKLSTWVrjbA | https://images.app.goo.gl/oVFLv8H8svEsiqjd7