I’ve spent many of my winter weeknights thus far looking for a movie to watch. This is not to be mistaken with actually watching movies, which I end up doing about half the time. The other half, then, is squandered away clicking through Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBOGo, and Vudu before deciding that there’s nothing I want to see, not now and not ever.
But during a recent journey through the tunneling depths of various streaming mediums, I clicked past “Beetlejuice”—and doubled back immediately. The iconic movie was released in 1988, nearly five years before I was born, and I couldn’t have been older than ten when I saw it for the first time. (There weren’t many rules in my house; in fact, it was likely my mother’s idea to watch it. She’s a big Geena Davis fan.) I loved it immediately and have ever since.
It’d been years since I’d seen it last, so I figured it was time for a rewatch. I didn’t get halfway through the movie before I realized: I’d been fashioning my beauty “aesthetic” (if you could even call it that) after Lydia Deetz, the film’s gothy teenage protagonist, for the past thirteen-odd years. No wonder jackass kids had tortured me by calling me a “witch” all through middle school.
With that said, I stand by it, even if I’d been cribbing my beauty inspiration from a PG movie character from the late ’80s who even referred to herself as “strange and unusual” since before I hit puberty. Because here’s the thing about Lydia: She rules.
Played by Winona Ryder, she’s delightfully morbid and clever beyond her years. She’s smart and brave and, yes, very weird. And her dance moves? So bad they’re good.
It’s not exactly a coincidence that I, of all people, have gravitated toward a look much like Lydia’s over the years. I naturally have very dark hair and very pale skin, and have always found myself responding best to looks that, while not always described as “goth,” revolve around that contrast and, well, may be a little spooky.
I’m partial to ’90s-inspired beauty, with dark lipstick and matte skin, which is not to say that this has consistently been my “thing”—I’ve dabbled in plenty of other looks that didn’t quite suit me, maybe even in an unwitting effort to be less weird. But in spite of my past dalliances with platinum hair and long, girly ombré extensions, I always end up back where I started from, looking like Lydia Deetz and feeling like myself again.
Almost three decades after “Beetlejuice”‘s first release, Lydia’s look—wild dark hair, baby bangs, otherworldly pale skin, black eyeliner and bruised-looking dark circles that she somehow manages to pull off—is just as relevant as ever, and not just to me. In fact, it’s seen a revival as of late. “Goth” is all over the runways; Gigi Hadid is wearing black lipstick. Chanel has re-released its iconic “Vamp” nail lacquer due to public demand. The fashion crowd wishes it was the ’90s again.
I may have toned down the extreme eyeliner, grown out the uneven bangs, and slowly eased myself out of a black-hair-dye fixation, but you know what? With so many failed beauty “risks” under my belt, I now know to think of Lydia when I start to feel like maybe I should change up my look. My friends, the married ghosts that live in the attic of my new Connecticut country home, think it’s probably a bad idea.