Formerly published in The Other Press. Oct. 30 2012
Dressing for the Halloween spirits
By Elliot Chan, Contributor
Nightclubs, house parties, random neighbourhood cul-de-sacs: it doesn’t matter where you end up on Halloween night or the weekend prior. What matters is that you are dressed appropriately for the end of October ritual.
What is Halloween if not a chance to show all of your friends how clever you are? You’ve dug deep into the gallows of your imagination and scrounged up some abstract ideas. You tied them all together and examined yourself in the mirror. After nodding with approval, you headed off to the party and realized that most people don’t watch the same television shows, play the same video games, or even understand the same scientific concepts you do. So what ends up happening? Well, everyone you encounter that night will wholesomely ask you the same question: “What are you supposed to be?” You’ll look down at yourself, observe the obvious, and say, “Duh, I’m Kevin Kline’s character from Sophie’s Choice,” or “I’m the Prophet Skeram from World of Warcraft” or “I’m the concept of condensation.” I’m not telling you to dress like the cliché pirates, princesses, and cowboys. Thinking outside of the box is good, but remember you want to receive high-fives for recognition and not shunning looks of alienation.
Concerning the maniacs: as long as you are not physically injuring others, there is no such thing as an offensive costume. If you want to dress as a different race and/or gender, nobody will stop you. Explore, but consider ahead. Ask yourself, in a couple of years do you really want to remember that night you were cross-dressing? Your costume is a brief legacy; make sure you’re proud of it. We all wonder how we would look as Wonder Woman, but let’s not be hasty. You won’t offend me, but you might offend the person you become later on in life.
Concerning the femme fatales: for years now, girls have been using Halloween as an excuse to dress, shall we say, eccentrically, and that is why I enjoy Halloween more than Thanksgiving. But I will not let you get away with wearing a cat ear headband and a black low-cut dress and calling yourself a pretty kitty. Looking attractive is not a costume! It should be, I know, but it isn’t, so be creative. Also, don’t forget to bring a jacket; unless you’re going as Smurfette, you won’t look good with blue skin on the walk home.
As students, most of us are scrapping by, but it is not okay to rehash the previous year’s costume. Halloween is like New Year’s Eve: it’s about change, rejuvenation, and growth (or is that St. Patrick’s Day?). Costumes create a timeline for your life. To have the same costume every year is to have a repetitive, boring life that’s not worth remembering. So even if you throw something together last minute, it is still better than throwing on the same bed sheet and calling yourself a ghost for another year.
Despite the lack of statutory respect, Halloween is a holiday people remember. Dress accordingly so the memories don’t come back and haunt you.