Bitchcore Is The Look Of The 2020’s Mean Girl

By Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse

Euphoria season two may be over, but the show was sure to leave its mark before retreating into production. As well as scarring many viewers and daring to leave them on a cliffhanger with no date set for season three’s release, the fashion in season two took the show’s already impressive styling and elevated it even further.

Maddy Perez’s wardrobe is undoubtedly Euphoria’s standout costuming, and the proof is in our Google history. Since the season’s first episode, where Perez wore a Damien Black Mini Dress with matching Damien Gloves from AKNA, not only did the items sell out, but searches for “black cut-out dresses” increased by 890%. Similarly, mere hours after episode four’s release, there was a 248% increase in searches for “green slip dress” after Perez sauntered around in an archival Blumarine negligee.

Maddy heralds a new age for the mean girl trope. She signals a move away from the inexplicable horridness of the cliched popular girl which dominated noughties film. Instead, the character is ushering in the ‘bad bitch’ whose meanness is not accepted but is at least understandable.

Perhaps this acceptance of bad behaviour stems from the current over-saturation of good conduct. Maddy is the anti-girlboss that we all are gagging for at the moment. The happy go lucky ideology of the girlboss, the ‘working woman’ merchandise, all the passive-aggressive loveliness being rammed down our throats all the time – we’re all sick of it. The cut-throat opinions held by Perez get spouted out without second thought, and honestly, it’s refreshing. Unlike most, Maddy Perez isn’t on a soul-searching mission. She doesn’t need to find herself, and she doesn’t have time for people who do. She knows exactly who she is and is impatiently waiting for everyone else to sort themselves out.

Maddy’s much needed counter-cultural image juxtaposes many visions of young women on TV. People quickly noticed this, and, as any counter-cultural image must now have, it’s been given a more internet appropriate name – bitchcore.

Urban dictionary, the only source for a definition, describes someone who embodies bitchcore as “more hardcore than a bitch,” before going on to say, “a girl who is bitchcore is beyond regular bitchiness. She will deliberately go out of her way to be a bitch, in fact, she takes pride in her bitchiness and will make noted efforts to be more bitchy, if possible.”

There’s no argument that Maddy Perez is the embodiment of bitchcore. People on a certain side of the internet may also describe her as ‘chaotic evil’. The label of ‘chaotic evil’ is given to a character who holds the philosophy that the self is best advanced through the freedom to act independently. It is a philosophy of egoistic individualism that prioritizes self-interest above everything else. These ideals give Maddy an abrasive and callous demeanour, unmatched confidence and willingness to speak her mind, and she is willing to sacrifice honesty to benefit herself. But her ideals also bring a loveable sassiness and that ‘you don’t have to tell me I look good, I know I look good’ vibe that we all want.

But the fact we all have to remember is that we love Maddy because she is fictional. If you were to describe her actions to someone who has never watched Euphoria, they probably wouldn’t understand why she’s so stan-able. She’s violent, lies with ease, unapologetically gaslights her friends, and lied about sexual assault, to name just a few wrong-doings. Her actions would be considered unforgivable in real life, she would have nearly no friends, and those she did would secretly hate her. Yet as a character, there’s something about Maddy that means we not only let her off the hook, but we want to see her thrive.

Much has been written about why villains can be our favourite characters. While Maddy is not an official villain, we can somewhat use this idea to explain our infatuation with her. Various studies have shown that meaner characters allow us to explore our darker selves and desires vicariously without actually enacting them IRL. We support Maddy’s mayhem because we have watched her be downtrodden. Many of her actions stem from her abusive relationship and the fact she is forced to live by outdated patriarchal ideologies. We feel satisfied when she barks back at these wrongs even though her actions are less than commendable.

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While most of Maddy’s appeal comes from her bitchcore energy, as illustrated by the type of songs on playlists named after her, her sense of style is an incredibly important aspect of her character. Unlike other typical mean girls, who are distinguished by their love of Barbie pink, tailored silhouettes, and stilettos that warn of their impending arrival, Maddy’s outfits offer a more real-world, 2020s take on the worn-out trope.

With bitchcore, there is a delicate balance of high and low culture. The aesthetic could best be described as subtle bimbofication. While the average high schooler is unlikely to have a custom birthday outfit co-designed by Marc Jacobs, there are some more affordable steps we can adopt to channel some of Maddy’s cut-throat femininity. Think; revealing cut-outs circa the iconic I AM GIA Lucid set, tops cropped to near nothing, McBling tracksuits, spaghetti straps and any twin set you can get your hands on. There’s also; faux fur trim, logoed apparel, anything bodycon or lycra, a little bit of mesh sprinkled here and there, and, of course, anything embellished with Swarovski crystal.

For fans of the show, Cassie’s adoption of Maddy’s style has shown that the way you wear bitchcore clothing is pivotal in pulling it off. While Maddy channels the bitchcore vibe in any outfit she adorns, Cassie in the same clothing looks awkward, forced and plain uncomfortable. This aesthetic demands that you acknowledge the line of what is ‘acceptable’ and push past it with all the force you can muster. In order to pull it off, you have to bound over that line, not unsurely toe it. If you don’t have that confidence, that self-assured knowing you look good, then no one else will believe it either.

While you may associate with and love everything Bitchcore is about, let’s adopt the fashions and the air of general sassiness it offers rather than leaning too heavily on the idea of being mean to people. There’s no point in looking the part if you’re the only character around to appreciate it.

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