Halloween costumes: The double standard is scarier than ever

Meredith Graf (photo provided by: Meredith Graf)

I was born and raised in New Orleans, and like many other families, my ancestry can be traced back here for generations. My line goes all the way back to my original cajun descent, when my ancestors were brought down by the English. The ancestors were moved here because the land was swampy and worthless. Overtime my family got genes from Irishmen, Italians, French, and lastly Germans.

My family comes from a humble background. My grandma’s mother used to be a strawberry picker. She was always embarrassed that she had to eat jelly on her sandwiches instead of meat. Back then, jelly on a sandwich instead of meat meant that a family was poor. My great grandma was later surprised when she first ate at a high tea and received jelly sandwiches that were considered high class. The roles had suddenly switched for her.

My family broke their backs, every generation, to give me the life I now lead, but along with some blessings came some curses.

I grew up in a Western society, which encouraged me to have a small frame as a white female. I do not think anyone ever pressured me to a be a certain size. I just always expected that myself. The hardest part about our bodies, maybe just mine, is that it is always changing.

We are all constantly growing older, so it is hard to love yourself when you are faced with forever changing. Even though I struggle with that daily, I always look for the positives, and that got me thinking about Halloween. 

I have always loved Halloween. The act of dressing up like your favorite person–which for me ranged from Mulan, a witch, and a cat for me–as well as racing from house to house in search of candy filled my adolescent days with vigor.  But, as I got older, things changed.

I remember my first halloween where I was told, “You can dress like a skank.”  Skank? What is that? And why was I not only allowed but possibly expected to dress like one?

I was puzzled with how it was acceptable to show off as much of your body as you would on a beach. When I look at costumes at pop-up Halloween stores, there is such a drastic change in women’s clothing from child to adult.

When I look at men’s costumes, their outfits do not change much. Men have doctor’s clothing that covers their bodies while the women costumes are a nurses outfit. As a young child, the nurse costume is concealing with down-to-the-knee fabric, but later in life the costume barely reaches below a women’s shorts line.

Why are our costumes so different? Why are women’s main choices to be revealing on Halloween? To me, Halloween is truly scary if I have to ask that question. But even though I say this, I will probably still wear a costume that is short or revealing. Why? I don’t have an answer.

At this point, there are observations and questions that fly around one of my favorite holidays. Now that holding candy has been replaced with holding alcohol and dressing as my favorite person has transitioned to dressing in the smallest amount of clothing possible, maybe we want to think about what’s really spooky about Halloween.



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