Halloween Costumes: Sexy, Spooky or Satire?

Credits: Photo - Anonymous, Styling - Sarah G. Schmidt, Location - 12 Street NW


Halloween is one of my favourite times of year. It combines a lot of naughty sins that are frowned upon in society for all the other 364 days: dressing solely for attention, eating ridiculous amounts of sugar filled candy, and children roaming the streets at night. It gives willing participants the opportunity to, for a night, become someone totally different. It should be no surprise that I love dressing up. I also find it fascinating as a discussion about society and the silly norms associated with costumes.

What people choose to wear tells a lot about a person and what is going on in their life. Even the folks that don't dress up, laziness isn't always the reason. Not doing something says something too. It's all so very interesting.

What I find exhausting is when adults aren't honest about the reaction they get while in their chosen costume. Say a fellow is dressed up in zombie makeup and ripped clothes and someone cracks a joke aimed at him about eating people. The zombie may get angry or short with that person retorting something dismissive like, "Yeah, like I haven't heard that already." Cue the eye roll. I want to say, "Dude, you're the guy who took all that time looking like a zombie, which is awesome by the way, and you're telling me you're mad that we are acknowledging it?" What did they expect?

A few years ago I commented on a women dressed as an adult star version of my beloved Disney character Belle. She got furious with me for calling her on it. Again, I was all, "Hey, you're the one who choose to wear that tiny costume and reveal everything else, why are you getting mad at me? PS. You look hot..."

The issue to me was not so much about wearing a revealing costume, good for you if you do as I'm not that brave, but it was about people getting mad at a person for commenting on it. Is there some unspoken rule that you cannot talk about the costume? Back to the situation, it was a you-don't-even-know-me thing. Woof. For additional context, I was at a small house party of friends. Total overreaction if you ask me. Digging deeper it was probably self-consciousness being displaced and taken out on me. On top of it all, I'll never think of the actual Belle character the same.

The situation reminded me of that scene in Mean Girls where many of the gals were dressing up as sexy _________ (fill in the blank with one of "kitten," "mouse," or "bunny"). Everyone knew that wearing something sexy was the M.O. and the animal accessories were just the excuse to dress up. But no one said a peep to their faces.

When I see this outside of the silver screen, I think, why not just go as a burlesque dancer? Porn star? Call girl/guy? We're all adults here, and we know what showing skin is about. Just own it. For once at a party I would be tickled pink if I heard someone say, "I dressed as a prostitute," or "I wanted to take the oppourtunity show my body off tonight!" A totally sincere 'Good for you!' is the reaction I would give.

More and more I am seeing fellas revealing their skin in a costume. Of the fellas I have asked why, they say, "Because I wanted to," or the more practical reply, "It gets hot at parties."

You rarely hear someone comment, "That man looks like a slut," but I think we all can admit our guilt of saying (or thinking), "That gal looks like a slut," in the same situation. What a loaded sentence of judgement. For the record, can you tell me what, specifically, a 'slut' look like? Is electively showing one's adult body to other adults a 'slut' move? Further, is a 'slutty' person lesser than a 'non slutty' person in some way? What are you getting at? Not getting too deep into that rabbit hole, but it's a heavy double standard that still exists. Excuse the forthcoming pun: boo.

My approach to Halloween dressing is to be as gender neutral as possible or, heck, just dress as a man. Rather than focusing on being sexy or attractive I strive for humour or satire. I find it fun and helps me to be creative with putting something specific together.

For me it's just too boring to dress provacatively. There's no real challenge other than mustering the confidence to pull it off. I'd rather go for the laugh. Further, I tend to be cold in even the most balmy of rooms. Thus the thought of barely wearing clothes does not appeal to me.

So this Halloween, like many of mine before, while many gals (and hopefully some cross dressing fellas) are tip-toeing around the outskirts in heels that they can't walk in (why, so often, is the only time they wear heels?), I'll be in the centre of the action. Find me Friday enjoying the night in my hilarious, yet comfortable, costume.

How about you? What are you wearing this Halloween?