To Be, or Not To Be (A Sexy Ghost)
I want to preface this article by saying I believe every college girl – and woman – has the right to dress as they desire on Halloween (as long as it’s not an offensive costume, but that is a whole different ethical Halloween problem that we will save for a later date). I hold NO judgement (and neither should you, but that’s just my opinion) about women’s choice regarding this matter. Want to be a sexy school girl? Go for it! Want to be a bunch of grapes? Why not! Want to stay in and watch a Halloween movie? I think we all want that. Halloween has notoriously been the one holiday each year where girls can dress as seductively as they want without being explicitly called out for it – although I would argue this is not true. If you have seen the movie, Mean Girls, then you probably remember the Halloween scenes of the movie when “the Plastics” dress up in sexy costumes while Cady arrives to the party in a scary (“not sexy,” whatever that means) costume. She feels left out as she missed the memo and this moment – along with seeing Regina kissing Aaron – causes her to join Damian and Janis in plotting Regina’s downfall.
Most would say that the betrayal of her “friend” is what spurs Cady into wanting revenge, but I want to argue that there is an element of feeling-left-out due to Cady’s Halloween costume choice. Not feeling included in something is arguably one of the worst feelings when you are young in a high school or college environment. When you are in your late teens and early twenties, you are trying to find yourself – pardon the cliche, but it’s true – and on top of choosing a major, thinking about what you want to do with the rest of your life, and balancing a social life, you are pressured to conform to peer pressure. Fashion trends, especially when it comes to Halloween costumes, is a perfect example of this conformity. I am not saying that conforming to all sexy school girls is a bad thing – as I said earlier where whatever you want! – but this unconscious conformity can affect female students in a negative manner. Do I want to follow the “sexy” trend as we shall call it? Will that make me feel empowered and welcomed? Or do I really just want to have fun with my costume and go as Scooby-Doo? I cannot make decisions for the life of me – even deciding which type of bagel I want is a struggle – but these opposite poles seem relevant in a time of body sexualization and pressures to conform to a certain body type.
This Halloween I felt the pressure to wear something more revealing than what I normally wear. I will admit it felt liberating and fun; dancing around without any worries about looking crazy because tonight I looked good and it was nice to feel sexy, something I don’t normally feel. However, when I got back to my room and slipped out of my costume into comfy (definitely not sexy) pajamas I reflected on the night’s events. Yes, I had fun. Yes, I pushed myself outside my comfort zone and it was okay. But, could I answer yes to feeling happy about my costume choice? I’m not sure. In Sharon Kim’s article “Challenging the cultural pressures to wear sexy costumes” posted on October 30, 2017, by The Flat Hat, the College of William and Mary’s newspaper, Kim asks why Halloween has to be a “who can show more skin” competition. I agree with Kim when she explains, “Halloween is meant to allow people to let out their inner creativity, not to pressure them into dressing inappropriately for the sake of being sexualized.” Perhaps this is why I was not happy with my costume: as a naturally creative person, I was not stimulated when putting it together – although I did get creative with eyeshadow. Kim goes on to state “women shouldn’t feel obligated to exploit their bodies in order to fit the societal construct that women should be sexy.” However, whether women chose to dress up in a sexy costume or not, they are faced with similar consequences. Kim states that “ultimately women are faced with the dilemma of having to choose between two options: dress sexily and be judged, or don’t dress sexily and still be judged.” The solution is for women to be able to control what they chose to do with their bodies and not be judged for their choices. After all, they didn’t ask to make their Halloween costume critique a group effort.
It’s always easier to give advice than take it (especially when it’s your own), but I would encourage women to chose their costumes based off what the truly want to be: whether sexy or not. Happiness does not derive from validation from others about how “sexy” you look tonight, it comes deeper within from self-confidence that reminds you are already sexy, giving you the confidence to walk into a party dressed up as Scooby Doo with not a care in the world.