I’ve always loved Hallowe’en, the idea of dressing up and pretending to be someone else. Everyone’s always in a good mood, hyped-up on sugary sweets and taking a silly amount of selfies. I’m no stranger to a good costume. The last few years have seen me dress up as a devil, a cat, a witch and a French maid. I’m aware the last costume conjures a slightly shall we say, promiscuous, flirtatious image to one’s mind. I bought the French maid and witch costumes in Anne Summers, the well-known lingerie shop on O’Connell Street. The idea behind both of these was never to look as many would deem ‘slutty,’ but more to look attractive. I never intended to go out dressed provocatively, nor did I. Strong pairs of tights were worn with both outfits, and while some may have seen me as a ‘slut,’ it’s not a title I wore with pride.
While many girls dress differently on Halloween night, it’s our right to. If other people can dress up as politically incorrect and less favourable characters, then why can’t we dress more provocatively than normal? Should we decide to, do we deserve to be deemed as ‘sluts’ and whatever other names we are called?
We are the generation that was raised on chick-flicks, rom-coms and pop culture. We’ve all heard of the ‘Mean Girls’ notion of “Hallowe’en is the one day a year when a girl can dress up like a total slut and no other girl can say anything else about it.” As someone who has been body-conscious for as long as I can remember, I have never gone out on Hallowe’en with the intention of flashing as much flesh as is humanly possible. If a girl wants to dress a certain way, she shouldn’t be subjected to criticism.
The movie portrayed the idea that Hallowe’en was to dress provocatively and that dressing as actual scary characters like vampires, witches and ghouls was just plain weird. Even at Christmas time, the girls donned risqué outfits for a school performance of ‘Jingle Bell Rock.’ All the girls appeared confident in these scantily clad outfits, apart from Lindsay Lohan’s character who questioned this odd tradition. That’s what it is now, a tradition of trying to out-do ourselves year after year.
There’s a certain shock factor there, akin to Sandy’s transformation at the end of the ‘Grease’. Eyes pop out as she suddenly appears sexier and more vampy. At Hallowe’en we are allowed to shock people, and not just in the ‘terrifying’ sense. Yes, it can be liberating- wearing an outfit you wouldn’t normally wear, showing a side of yourself, or dare I say it, part of yourself that you wouldn’t normally show. It’s the only time of the year when breaching the boundaries and breaking the norm, does indeed appear normal.
We have this pre-conceived notion that dressing provocatively, being a bit daring, is something negative; yet something which we must do at Hallowe’en. If a girl goes out scantily clad during the year, she is condemned as a ‘slut,’ or a ‘skank.’ If she goes out at Halloween dressed like that, no-one bats an eyelid. She is lavished with praise and compliments- applauded for conforming to the norm.
I don’t know what scares me more. The idea that on Halloween anything goes, which to a point, it does, or the idea that for the rest of the year, women are criticised and chastised for wearing what they choose. Clothing is self-expression, nothing more. Women dress a certain way for many reasons; to instil confidence in themselves, to make themselves feel good or more importantly, because they want to and it’s their right. No woman should be labelled at Halloween or indeed, for any of the other 364 days of the year.