If you have seen Mean Girls, or rather, if you are a woman (the two are close to interchangeable) you will know that “Halloween is the one night a year when a girl can dress like a total slut and no other girl can say anything about it.” While an apparent lack of clothing sadly has it’s derogatory undertones, the general idea that halloween is a time that girls tend to wear less, despite the inevitably cold english weather, is an accurate perception.
When I sat down to write this article I was sure that my standpoint was going to be “why do girls dress up like this, you’re only conforming to the patriarchal system that sees women as objects, rather than people with brains and feelings”. But then I realised something. I am one of these girls. I am far more likely, on halloween, to dress up as some indistinguishable meek animal, (“I’m a mouse, duhh”) than I am to risk Cady’s humiliation dressed head to toe in a wedding dress, as the Zombie Bride. I acknowledge that I should take a moment to apologise to any readers who have not seen Mean Girls, the point that I am making, as bizarre as it sounds, is that I would rather dress in something perceived as feminine and mild than something genuinely scary. Yes, on Halloween.
As a self-proclaimed feminist, this is a worrying realisation for me. Knowing, if I’m honest with myself, that I would rather be the Hillbilly Honey over the Murderous Hobo, because of the way my femininity would be undermined if I don’t. You only have to walk down the costume aisle of your local supermarket around Halloween to be assured in the fact that ‘being sexy’ and ‘being a woman’ are expected to co-inside with one another. Even the Mummy’s, that are supposed to reflect the body of a person that has survived rotting away due to chemical exposure, after having their organs pulled out through their nose, only consisted of a short white dress and a measly bandage around the head. Because you know, mummy’s get headaches.
I am not trying to point out feminist problems in society that people already know, what I am trying to highlight is how we conform to them without even realising, arguably for ease. It is easier to go with what the shops tell us we should buy, than to take a step back and remember the fun that this season is supposed to bring with it. Rather than suffer the pain of a night in stilettos, why not dress up as something that will terrify your friends and just have a laugh. When I was younger I enjoyed nothing more than dressing in a horrific Dracula mask and creeping up on my younger brother in the dark. I was a terrible sister, yes, but the idea then that halloween was supposed to be anything other than terrifying, seemed ridiculous. Maybe this year I need to see if my mum wouldn’t mind me borrowing her wedding dress…