There’s something magical about Halloween. It’s a holiday that’s fast been emerging as many people’s favourite. One at which we eat even more treats than at Easter, party later than New Year’s Eve and drink almost as much liquor as it takes to get through Christmas with our families. But what is it that makes Halloween so special?

Halloween means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. To children, of course, it’s a night to take over the neighbourhood on a quest to fill as many pillowcases as their little arms can carry with candy of all ilk. The candy haul, roughly the equivalent to one adult foot lost to diabetes, is the immediately apparent allure of Halloween, but the real magic at work on this quaintly heathen celebration is something else. It’s the freedom they have to be whatever they want to. Whatever their tiny little brains can fathom, without bound or constraint, up to that at which their parents’ limitations have stunted them.

For one fleeting night a year, they can truly be whatever they put their mind to, without suffering the crushing disappointment that will come later in life when they realize that that favourite encouraging maxim of parents and teachers alike is the most widely-spread and rancorous lie perpetuated against children in the Western world.

This reveling in being someone or something else doesn’t ever leave us. Though it does recede for a time into the scornful wasteland of teenagedom, where it is just one of thousands of things heaped in the scorned pile of fuckin’ lame stuff that we’re totally better than. But, as adults whose dreams have been chopped down to a debilitatingly realistic level, this longing to live briefly as someone or something else returns to us. Much in the same way the nightly crying and bed-wetting of our childhood returns with renewed fervor. (Right?)

With make-up and masks and costumes–and, of course, the most effective modifier of all, liquor–we allow ourselves to let loose in a way that we’re not able to any other time, because we aren’t really ourselves. This is what leads to crazy parties where werewolves poop in potted ferns and Draculas wake up in the beds of Pink Power Rangers. Or the bed of one of the other Power Rangers; like I said, it’s a night to be someone else, and maybe Bill from work wouldn’t let his curiosity lead him to Green Ranger’s basement bachelor apartment to blow on his mystical dagger-flute, but perhaps Disco Dracula would.

Yes, it wasn’t Mandy who accidentally backed her car into the fence, it was a cat inexplicably wearing a corset. It wasn’t Tim who puked in the fish tank, it was one of The Avengers. The one whose super power is being a huge asshole, apparently. It wasn’t Jake, John, Sue, Thom, Terra, Miguel, Sophie or Liam who spilled red wine on the carpet, it was one of any number of zombies who didn’t get the memo that zombies have been played-out since like five years ago.

It can be a night of passion and discovery, where Gina and Phil, both too shy and awkward to tell the other how they feel, are finally able to ignite a romance as Wonder Woman and some dwarf or gnome or some shit from The Hobbit or whatever. A romance that blossoms and shines brighter as the jack-o-lanterns grow dimmer, and which goes on for five years longer than it should as they resign themselves to the blandness of each other and try desperately to recapture the spontaneity of that night.

Whether planned for months or thrown together last minute, made by hand or bought from a cheap novelty store, classic and instantly recognizable or so pretentiously esoteric that the whole party has to suffer through the same inanely recondite explanation each time someone new arrives, everyone is essentially dressing for the same reason.

For that little bit of adventure that takes them away, however briefly, from their mundane lives of offices and taxes and AA meetings and lets them act out in mischievous ways that they can only do in a spooky alternate universe where ghosts, witches and goblins exist, and STIs don’t.


Photo by hanna_horwarth via Flickr

“In the regular world, Halloween is when children dress up in costumes and beg for candy. In Girl World, Halloween is the one night a year when a girl can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.”

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, I’m sure this Mean Girls quote is of the most recognized in our modern culture. When I first watched this movie almost ten years ago at the ripe age of 15, I laughed hysterically and was like “OMG SO TRUE!” and sure enough, the following Halloween, I’d donned my shortest skirt, tightest top, and a pair of improvised cat ears for some lame high school party. Done. I don’t even think my face was made up to look like a cat- but I was a sexy kitty with pretty hair so what did it matter?

kidstowomenLadies, haven’t you ever noticed how strange it is that as children we were encouraged to dress up elaborately for Halloween, yet as soon as we hit puberty, we start taking advantage of the holiday as a time to reveal our tatas and what not? The other day, the well known PolicyMic social justice writer and a dear personal friend of mine, Elizabeth Plank, pointed this out when she uploaded a picture of kids costumes and sexy costumes side by side in a store. The caption of her photo read: “This #halloween shop wants to make sure little girls know exactly what’s expected of them later. #NotBuyingIt”. My favourite feminist makes a point: In the past, I myself along with plenty of other women in my age group (and beyond) went from dressing up in our childhoods as innocent cats, witches, and princesses to sexy cats, sexy cops, sexy nurses… Dorothy becomes sexy Dorothy- thank you for ruining my childhood. A bee becomes.. a sexy bee? How the hell does that work? What’s so sexy about pollination!?

I’m not bashing the desire to look hot on Halloween, ladies and gentlemen. This holiday is a day of release, and in our culture, it is a day where most rules should be forgotten. However, we have the right to look hot every day, not exclusively on a holiday. Really, a woman should be able to dress like a “total slut” if she wants to every single day of her life, and no one should say anything about it because it’s HER choice at the end of the day. But we should take a minute to think that for the most part, women are being encouraged to strip down for Halloween, and this should be a choice, not an expectation… and frankly, the whole lingerie+bunny ears thing is getting kind of boring.

So as long as you’re still procrastinating your costume… why don’t you keep these tips in mind.

My List of Commandments for creating your Halloween costume:

-Thou Shalt Not Buy Into Media Induced Expectations (We’re living in the 21st century, after all.)
See rant above. If you want to look like a “slut”, do it, but know that you don’t HAVE to. Lingerie+animal ears aren’t the only option you have. College freshmen/women under 20, I’m looking at you.

-Thou Shalt Not Dress Offensively: sure, you have the right express your inner self (blah blah blah) on Halloween, but come on. Don’t blackface yourself. Don’t add detail to your eyes to turn Asian. A race is not a costume. And please, for the love of God, and this is coming from an Arab: PLEASE. Don’t dress as a terrorist. It’s not funny, it’s rude. Be considerate of who you might offend.


-Thou Shalt Not be Wasteful: If you must purchase something for your costume, choose wisely and welcome it into your wardrobe. We all know the drill: you buy one of those shitty packaged Halloween costumes that you wear once, spill beer on, never wash, and never wear again. That’s totally wasteful. You would be surprised with the treasures you could keep from Halloween costumes past! One year I was.. well, something that involved a leather skirt, Doc Martins, a short black wig, and a whip. I’d purchased a pleather corset top from Cruella especially for the occasion. Three years later, I’m pairing that top with high waisted, long billowy skirts and calling it my “Carrie Bradshaw”outfit. It has gone from costume to respected staple.

-Thou shalt raid thine closet: You’ll be surprised with what you can come up with, especially if channeling an iconic figure like John Lennon, Marilyn Monroe, Janis Joplin, or Bob Dylan.

1374950_658002757552380_1661427143_n-Thou shalt respect the classics: Whatever happened to being a witch, a ghost, a pumpkin, or a ghoul on Halloween!! Did we throw all those costumes away to become nurses and pop stars? I’m personally bringing the witch back this year, and I’m so excited. I haven’t been a witch since I was 8 years old!

-Thou Shalt Own It: Own what you wear, honey. Strut your stuff, and be creative. Halloween is the funniest night of the year, after all.

And the final commandment: Thou Shalt attend the Glam Gam production, Tales from the Crotch on October 31st at 10pm!! I’ll see you all there, and if you’re wearing a costume, it’s 10 bucks admission. If you’re being boring, the price to pay is 15. nyahahahahahahahaha!!

Alright my pretties, have yourselves a wonderful Halloweek, and don’t forget to enter Forget the Box’s costume contest. See the link below for more details!!!!

Halloween Costume Contest: Disguise for Prize 2013