I’ve loved Halloween my entire life. As a child, Halloween night always felt a little spookier and chillier than most, and as I got older, I prided myself on painstakingly detailed costumes and makeup looks. Flo the Progressive Lady and the Cabbage Man from Avatar: The Last Airbender were among my favorites.
But I’ve also been a round-faced, chubby-cheeked, bigger-boned, overweight girl my entire life. I have never known life without extra fat and the emotional weight that accompanies it. Growing up, it was tough to be body positive about it all, and it continues to be. For me, body confidence is an ongoing challenge everyday – but it can be especially difficult on a day like Halloween, when a lot of extra attention is directed towards what I’m wearing and how I’m doing it.
This year, on the same day I was starting to think about potential Halloween costumes, my confidence took a serious blow. I was dining at a restaurant when a woman from the table next to mine leaned over to tell me that she thought I was having a boy. Now – my stomach is round and full, and protrudes especially when I’m sitting down, but I am most certainly not pregnant. I was deeply embarrassed and very hurt that a stranger had thought so, and had commented on it. I tried my best to brush it off as she apologized, but I couldn’t deny privately that it had stung.
A few days later, I confided in a best friend about the incident and the worries it had brought on. My Halloween costume was probably going to be quite form-fitting, and I was suddenly extremely self-conscious about it. What if people judged me for wearing it, fat rolls and all? Worse than that, what if people didn’t even get what my costume was supposed to be?
My friend immediately responded with affirmations about my inner and outer beauty and assured me that, had she been at that restaurant, she would have come to my defense and educate the (likely well-meaning) stranger about gratuitously commenting on others’ bodies.
But the best thing that my friend did was send me several photos of other women in costume. Plus-size women flashing a defiant smile at the camera, proudly wearing costumes that showed a lot of skin. Women with headscarves that chose to cover up with intricately detailed and wonderfully creative costumes that were nothing short of masterpieces. Disabled women in costumes that worked for them alongside their wheelchairs or other aids. These were all examples of women that did not see aspects of their bodies as limitations, but as something that made them limitless in power, innovation and beauty. I adored them and was utterly inspired by them – and my friend. I owe them all a lot.
And I owe something to myself, too: A Halloween that is truly bigger, better, and body positive. This year, I’ll be taking inspiration from women like the ones in those photos – ones that I believe to be confident, vulnerable and strong. I’ll be scrolling through Instagram and commenting on posts to let folks know that I think they’re rocking their costumes. In between Halloween movies, I’ll be playing music that makes me feel good about myself. I’ll truly work embrace a holiday that’s all about stepping out of comfort zones and maybe doing something a little scary – taking the opportunity to be brave with my body – and I encourage you to do the same.
Now, I’ll reveal what I’ll be wearing on October 31st. It’s funny, because the more I think about it, the more it doesn’t even seem to be a costume – it’s just who I am.
And that’s Wonder Woman.
Cover Image Source: PhotoPin, Nathan Rupert