Modern Halloween costumes create loss of innocence

Opinion by HannahCusick

Mighty stomps echo into the night as abnormally large feet crash into the concrete, shaking the ground with each stride taken.

A loud roar escapes the creature’s sharpened set of teeth: a warning to steer clear of the ferocious T-Rex’s wrath.

A curly haired witch glides through the vastness of the midnight sky, torturing the town with her maniacal laughter.

One wrong turn, and a dominating swarm of yellow minions could steal Iron Man from the Avengers, leaving the world vulnerable to any extraterrestrial attacks and groceries licked clean of bananas.

Oct. 31 used to be the day when vivid imagination shaped our reality; bed sheets turned into haunting ghosts and sticks became powerful wands. “Halloweentown” and “Hocus Pocus” kept my younger self questioning the “costumes” of every passing trick or treater in fear of any unleashed supernatural monstrosities.

Gullible, but with trust issues from my sister telling me I smell like updog, we were able to bring our Halloween costumes to life. A witch costume wasn’t just a costume; it gave me the ability to enchant my foes with spells, my laugh turned sinister, and remnants of a brewing potion were stuck under my fingernails.

Picking out a costume was harder than writing a college essay and right now I’m highly considering hacking my twin’s iPad to use one of Ellie’s seven essays (even though they’re probably about how frustrating it is living under the shadow of her talented, humble, incredible, generous, etc. twin and only one of us is faced with that unfortunate reality…). The possibilities for costumes were endless. Did I want to communicate with animals in a “Sofia the First” costume or blast through the sky as Wonder Woman?

Indecisiveness tortured us and probably our parents even more, but you could never go wrong with a classic princess getup. Most of us grew up on Disney princess movies and dreamt of living out our princess fantasies. Come Oct. 1, you better believe a swarm of scocer moms will leave Target with tiaras and Cinderella dresses.

Graphics by HannahCusick

Even as a senior, I still see girls my age dressing up as princesses which sounds sweet and nostalgic, but I think it’s kind of sad. Parents used to get emotional at the sight of their daughters sparkling in a yellow dress and tiara. Nothing compares to their innocent glow of excitement, free of the societal standards that will one day control their critical teenage mind. Nowadays, a Princess Belle costume includes a cheap SHEIN skirt that shows way too much if girls bend at any angle less than 180 degrees, a boring yellow crop top that focuses on the girls’ acne-spotted “cleavage,” and to top it all off, a tiara. To be frank, I find those costumes to be a little creepy. Imagine a little girl says “I wanna be a princess for Halloween,” and then gets a tiny shirt and skirt as a costume. That’s like making my cousin do my Pre-Calc homework. It just doesn’t make any sense; I’m not up to date on children’s movies, but in what world does a princess wear that?

As “matured” young women, normal Halloween costumes just don’t cut it anymore, unless some part of the outfit is either cropped or too short. When did girls’ Halloween costumes turn into a sexualized version of basically anything?

Every year as we grow further away from our childhood, we develop more insecurities and a strong desire to fit in. The pressure to conform to unrealistic expectations rises for young women when it comes to Halloween. The big question is why do girls wear these sexual costumes? Whether we like it or not, the way women are protrayed and protray themselves is shaped by the toxicity of the male gaze. I think we’ve all subconsciously been taught to see ourselves through the male gaze due to the representation of women in the entertainment industry and social media.

Countless times we’ve seen the objectification and sexualization of women, but sometimes we’re too desensitized to notice it. For example, male superheros like Batman or Iron Man wear powerful and edgy costumes, but BatWoman, Wonder Woman, and Mrs. Incredible have tight bodysuits that bring attention to her physical figure. What we see is what we expect, so if we grow up watching men obsess over the PlayBoy bunnies, why are we surprised with the amount of PlayBoy bunny Halloween costumes?

If girls were gonna spend Oct. 31 with just their girlfriends, they would wear whatever they wanted, no worries about pleasing others with their appearance. The pressure of looking sexually desirable didn’t invade the minds of teens until Halloween went from trick-or-treating to being surrounded by immature guys at a party.

If girls feel empowered and confident in a more revealing outfit, there’s nothing wrong with that; we should wear whatever we want.

The problem with Halloween costumes is that girls are expected to be dressed provocatively. If I showed up to this year’s Halloween party wearing a full-on princess gown, man oh man I can only imagine the amount of judgmental looks I’d get.

Knee deep in a college preparation to-do list, I often forget there was a time when I looked forward to dumping out my pillow case on the floor with my friends so we could trade candy. The days when devils and angels didn’t flood my Instagram feed on Halloween and my biggest worry was getting too many Almond Joys.

Growing up and gaining the independence we dreamed of as kids is fun and all, but don’t you miss the days when getting ready for Halloween didn’t include push up bras and staring at imperfections in the mirror?

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