As soon as I finished watching “Euphoria,” I grabbed my wallet and keys and raced down to the closest drugstore. (Yes, I realize I’m late to the whole “Euphoria” thing. Deal with it.) At the store, I scanned the beauty aisle shelves for anything glittery or bright, filling my basket with a rainbow of powders and creams. After spending much more money than I wish to admit, I returned home and dumped the colorful mess on my bed. Feeling a sudden deep hunger, I went to the kitchen to make a grilled cheese.
OK. Pause. Rewind. Why was I getting makeup after watching an HBO teen drama? If you’ve been living under a rock like me and haven’t seen “Euphoria,” it is a show about the painful and beautiful experience of adolescence, narrated by our protagonist Rue (played beautifully by Zendaya), who struggles with substance abuse. I won’t say anything more to avoid spoilers for those who haven’t seen it, but one of the most remarkable things about “Euphoria” is its style. Every episode is full of stunning shots and beautiful images. One of the iconic parts of “Euphoria” is its stylized makeup by artist Doniella Davy (seriously, if you don’t want to watch the show, at least look up the makeup art, it is stunning). OK. Unpause.
After eating my grilled cheese (it was delicious, thanks for asking) and returning to my senses, I re-entered my bedroom and recoiled at the sight of my impulsive purchases. Suddenly, the purple eyeliner and green glitter looked more intimidating than inspiring, and I began to regret my decision. There was no way I could pull off a Euphoria-style makeup look, I told myself. But something inside of me — maybe the creative juices that dried up once theaters closed for the pandemic — told me that I had to try it. I had to experiment. Maybe makeup art was my calling. Maybe it would make me feel more confident. Maybe I would love it. Maybe it’s Maybelline’s marketing department trying to sell me things I don’t need. Either way, I wanted to find out.
I decided to start with a small challenge. For three days, I would wear Euphoria-style makeup and document the way it made me feel.
I woke up feeling groggy and exhausted. I wanted to roll out of bed, dab on some mascara and pull up my hoodie for my 8 a.m. class. But I don’t back down from a challenge. So I decided to start with something easy. I ripped the protective covering off my brand new silver eyeliner and slid the creamy pencil over my eyes. It was beautiful, but it was hardly noticeable. The perfect introduction to my little makeup experiment.
All day, no one (except for an extremely detail-oriented Starbucks barista who said I looked “cooler than usual”) noticed my silver-streaked eyelids. But it didn’t matter. Knowing that I was wearing the eyeliner gave me a subtle but constant boost of confidence throughout the day. It reminded me of how I used to feel as a kid every year on the first day of school when I finally got to wear the new shoes my parents got me for the school year.
After a successful first day of my “Euphoria” makeup experiment, I was excited to continue. On Day Two, I had plans to go out to dinner with my family, which was occasion enough for me to go all out. I pulled out the bright pink shadows, the glitter, the gloss. Then, I not-so-methodically applied the products to my face, smearing sparkly pinks and purples on my skin. I stepped back and looked at my reflection. I felt like I was looking at a completely different person.
Channeling my inner Jules (one of the characters on “Euphoria”), I grabbed a pair of combat boots and headed out. Day Two was not at all like Day One. Everyone noticed my makeup. Some people complimented me, others gave me confused glares. As someone who is used to blending into the crowd, I felt very exposed. I didn’t like the feeling of being looked at and assessed, leaving myself open to compliments and criticisms alike.
On the final day of my makeup challenge, I decided to conquer the most intimidating product I had bought: rhinestones. Deciding to leave the rest of my makeup simple, I unpacked the tiny diamonds and carefully glued them around my eyes. I looked up at my reflection. I loved them. They were noticeable, but not in-your-face. They were subtle and pretty. I felt confident but not exposed.
Looking back on my makeup adventure, I’m proud of myself for having stepped out of my comfort zone and tried something new. I don’t really see myself wearing rhinestones or purple eyeliner again any time soon, but there was something extremely satisfying about turning my impulse into a challenge and allowing myself to explore a new outlet for self expression. So the next time you’re feeling a little bored or a little down or a little less than your beautiful self, sprinkle some glitter on your face.
Anna Velychko is a freshman writing about art and pop culture. Her column, “Unquirky,” runs every other Wednesday.