All Hallow’s Eve is often looked at as a time when we can cast off all preconceived notions our friends and neighbors may harbor in relation to who and what we are as a person. It is a time to forget a recent heartbreak, unemployment, crippling debt, a plant that died because you didn’t water it enough (RIP Audrey II) or any number of other emotional inconveniences you’ve had to weather in recent months. We paint our faces, dye our hair and put on outfits we would never imagine wearing in our “real lives.” We leave all our baggage back at our respective homes, step out into the street and transform ourselves into a horse of a completely different color.
It’s an unspoken but commonly held belief that what we dress up as on Halloween somehow reflects us as a person. This is not a difficult idea to defend, as, with most psychology, there’s a myriad number of avenues to take. A few years ago I attended a party where two gentlemen, who did not know each other, both dressed up as what was then the costume of the year: Steve Irwin with a stingray hanging from his chest. One of these men got belligerently drunk and eventually fell down a flight of stairs while the other remained mostly sober and ended up helping some of the more intoxicated guests find their way home. Now, despite wearing the exact same costume, these men behaved in two totally different ways, and can have their behavior attributed to their costume choice. The drunkard clearly wore his costume in an unconscious attempt to alert his friends of his obvious death wish as shown through his excess drinking and defeat at the battle of the stairs. The sober Irwin dressed as such in an effort to mock death, something he evidently has a fear of in so much that he doesn’t trust himself to get drunk.
I will be the first to admit that I am not a psychologist and that both examples I just gave would probably be torn apart by any second year psychology student. The point I’m trying to make is that we pass a judgment, consciously or unconsciously, on a person based on the costume they’re wearing. This judgment is often viewed as much more pure and unfiltered than one based on a person’s clothing, diction or enigmatic affinity for Adam Sandler movies because it is a conscious choice. You don’t choose what kind of music you prefer—it’s just whichever notes hit your ear just right that make you choose Dawes over Gershwin. It’s never deliberate. Halloween, on the other hand, is a day (or weekend) where every microcosm of your outfit is deliberate and carefully chosen by you. So, in theory, what a person wears on Halloween should unequivocally be a window into their soul.
With that in mind, I’d like to dispel a few myths often associated with some of the season’s most popular costumes.
Steve Jobs – A big one this year, it’s very easy to make the assumption that the individual dressed as Jobs is a disrespectful person with very poor taste who wants to get a cheap laugh out of the death of one of the very few people left on this planet who actually knew what he was doing and does not understand that nobody wants to go home with a dead guy. In reality, most of the Steve Jobs you encountered this past weekend were more than likely wearing the official Apple Steve Jobs iCostume. The all sleek all black outfit is a sign of mourning with all proceeds going to Jobs’ family who’ve probably been buying their clothes at Goodwill and surviving on rice and beans for the past four weeks. The iCostume also does e-mail.
The Sexy Schoolgirl and Mario & Luigi – I pair these two together as they both represent a beautiful yet tragic dream: reclaiming lost youth. While some might say that both outfits are terribly played-out, have outstayed their welcome and are sure signs of a person devoid of any originality— possibly even a personality. The schoolgirl clearly has daddy issues, as she needs to regress in both clothing and mental state in an attempt to gain the approval of men her actual age. Some would then add that the Mario Bros. are trapped in a perpetual state of arrested development, so terrified of becoming men that they need to wrap themselves in the garbs of childhood obsession, their stunted emotional growth further exemplified by their need to wear a fake mustache.
This is all, of course, a pack of lies. Both the schoolgirl and Mario Bros. are, in reality, merely yearning for two very different care-free days of youth. The schoolgirl is representative of the thirst for knowledge we only feel as children—the wide-eyed innocence that needs to know why the sky is blue and who the Prime Minister of Australia is, staying after school in uniform to hang out in the library and become a scholar. The Mario Bros., on the other end, show who we were when we weren’t learning. It represents hanging out with our best friends and family members, exploring, playing games and embracing the imagination that only exists before puberty.
I could go on and on, but I think I’ve made my point. So next year, as October winds down and you prepare for another celebration of surrogacy, leave your judgments at home, along with your baggage. If you’re not bringing yours out with you, chances are most other people aren’t either.
Patrick McFadden is a fourth-year student majoring in literature with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at PM623279@wcupa.edu