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High School Evil: the Costuming of Jennifer Check in 'Jennifer's Body'

Jennifer's Body Gap heart print pink hoodie Juicy Couture Megan Fox Jennifer Check horror film

Call it a product of MeToo, the societal renaissance of Megan Fox (now everyone’s realised she never did anything wrong… she was just a woman defending herself against a male director), or the 00s resurgence, but the 2009 horror film Jennifer’s Body has recently become a cultural phenomenon, finally finding its target audience: women. Originally, the film was marketed towards teenage boys, when the target audience was young women. The film depicts the possession of Jennifer Check (Megan Fox), who becomes a succubus after she is mistaken for a virgin and sacrificed by a band desperate for fame. Following this, she realises she must murder people to sustain the demon, much to her best friend Needy’s despair. The film has since become loved for its queer-coded presentation of female friendship, its campy dialogue, and, of course, the iconic costuming.

Costuming — especially that of contemporary films — is often overlooked by the audience. Whilst we can all appreciate the research it takes into creating costumes for period dramas, contemporary films’ costuming is often seen as lesser, when this is not always the case. Costume designers always take thought into what characters wear, and how their outfits can reflect their inner turmoil, or the plot overall. This is the case for Jennifer Check, who doesn't just wear the most 00s of 00s outfits. The use of childish clothing — with some pieces literally being from children's stores — and a sexualised nature to her outfits amalgamate to make Jennifer unthreatening to her victims, an intentional choice by costume designer Katia Stano.

In the film, we see Jennifer in a plethora of bright outfits, often paired with childish clothing. This overemphasis of innocence is subverted when Jennifer becomes possessed, the demon using this facade to lure its victims. In fact, this contrast between Jennifer’s character and her costuming was a major point for Stano.

For this childishness, Stano looked towards the Japanese street style magazine Fruits for inspiration. Fruits was not just a 00s masterpiece, but a starting point for many trends starting in Tokyo’s Harajuku district and eventually finding themselves in western culture.

Jennifer's Body Gap heart print pink hoodie Juicy Couture Megan Fox Jennifer Check horror film

Stano also revealed that as Jennifer became more murderous, her outfits became girlier. In an interview with Nylon, she explained how she found the now-iconic heart-print hoodie in Gap Kids. The outfit sees Jennifer in jeans and a hoodie, however it’s the details that count: pink heart-shaped earrings, a gold heart necklace, a teddy keyring attached to her jeans, pink espadrilles with the ribbons tied over the jeans. The accessories in this outfit scream girliness, as if the demon is over-doing it, trying to seem unthreatening. Stano herself said, ‘We added that kitschy keychain that was dangling off of her, and then on purpose, everyone else was super dark and grey so that when they revealed her it was like one of these things is not like the other.’

This subtle warning plays a part throughout the film. When Jennifer seduces her first victim, she is wearing a yellow short-sleeved hoodie, from Juicy Couture no less. But these types of hoodies are typically known as children's wear, playing into her facade of innocence. Jennifer uses a mixture of childishness and sexualisation to lure her victims, both making her victims feel safe. This is exactly the case for this outfit, where Jennifer slowly unzips the child-like yellow hoodie, teasing her victim that they will see her exposed.

Jennifer's Body Gap heart print pink hoodie Juicy Couture Megan Fox Jennifer Check horror film

One of the most iconic looks from the film is Jennifer’s prom dress, a white Jessica McClintock dress with black ribbon details. Traditionally, wedding dresses are white to symbolise virginal purity, however the black details of the dress are a warning that Jennifer is masquerading as unthreatening. The dress later becomes stained with blood, visually mirroring the white coat that she wore when she was sacrificed.

An interesting detail is Jennifer’s nails during the film. They’re painted hot pink, except for the middle finger, which was painted black. In a retrospective interview, Megan Fox said that this was intentional, and a way to suggest to viewers’ Jennifer’s threatening nature. Because, as Needy says herself, Jennifer was always ‘high school evil.’

Written and edited by Lucy Eaton


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