What’s In a Costume?

Every year as fall approaches many of us get excited about the change of the leaves, the crispness of the air, pulling out our sweaters and most importantly, deciding what we are going to be for Halloween.  Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays, although I think I’m a sucker for all holidays; any excuse to celebrate.  But Halloween in particular gives us a chance for one day of the year to be whoever we want to be without judgment.  Some people live their lives like this every day, kudos to them for their bravery.  But most of us tend to fall into the norms and constraints of everyday society trying to fit in to what is socially acceptable wherever we may live.  We hope that it will enable us to be accepted by our peers, get a decent job, and make friends.  Don’t get me wrong, I realize peers is a very relative word depending on where you live , but generally most of us don’t look any different from the next person.  We all buy our clothes in the same department stores, Target, or even the many specialty shops of which there are several in every city in America. We follow style trends and try to look what is in that time and place considered to be stylish.   But on Halloween we do the opposite.  We put on a costume that is typically something we would NEVER wear out in public on an ordinary day. 

This year I was thinking about my costumes from years past.  For the last ten years or so I generally smooth out my hair if I’m going out.  Anyone who knew me in my teens doesn’t really know this look as they just didn’t have the good hair products and tools that they have now.  Anyway, I realized that year after year I always wore my hair curly on Halloween.  Interesting when you look at my hair; it is essentially a perfect personification of who I am; twisted, untamed, wild, and slightly crazy.  It’s funny that on the one day of the year that all rules for being judged by how we look is put by the wayside, I always chose to be on the outside exactly who I am on the inside.  Most other days of the year I would straighten, pull, and put strategic curls for an orderly put together look.  Apart from when I’m with family or very close friends who already know who I am. 

My costumes also seemed to reflect part of me that during the year I would generally keep under wraps.  For many years I was witch.  I obviously could have bought a new costume, but I liked being a witch.  I would add new things, a different hat, etc, but still a witch.  In high school I had a boyfriend whose mother didn’t quite care for me.  She called me the Spanish Witch.  I liked it so much I used it as email address years later. 

Last year I found the perfect costume.  I was a gypsy.  The outfit even came with tarot cards.  I loved it.  I generally am very intrigued with spiritual, mystical, and other worldly things and have been known to make major life decisions based on them.  That would be where the slightly crazy comes in for all you who make decisions based on facts and consequences. 

I find it interesting what a choice of costume can tell about a person.  This is what they would be if they could be anything and no one would judge. 

I have a friend who likes to be a superhero.  I believe it was a group costume with friends a few years back.  But this year he special ordered shiny pleather yellow boots to add to it.  I kind of see it similar to my witch costume.  I think he just likes being a super hero, likes telling the world that he truly is a super person.  I don’t think he needed the costume for that, but maybe that’s just a part of himself that he isn’t comfortable putting out there for the world.  He is very humble about whom he is and maybe being a superhero gives him the chance to express what he really knows about himself.

My sister and brother in law live in a conservative Pennsylvania town where he is a partner in long standing financial firm.  To give you an idea of how conservative it is, coming from the west coast, I stand out like a sore thumb every time I visit.  Well, each year on Halloween they go all out with the most outrageously socially inappropriate costumes, at least for their peer group.  In some areas of America they might blend right in, but in their small Pennsylvania town, it’s clearly a costume.  They have been punk rockers, hip hop gangsters, and bikers.  They always look so authentic.  I love seeing their Halloween picture each year as it is a small reminder of what’s on the inside.  Not that they want to be gangsters or bikers but they live in a very socially conservative area and this is the one day of the year they let their wild side show on the outside.  Don’t get me wrong they will party it up and throw a mean karaoke party, but they do it in their collar shirts and Talbot dress.

So this year as you put on your costume, maybe take a moment to stop and think what it is saying about you.  Does it reflect a part of you that you try to hide from the world in the everyday?  How does it make you feel when you put it on?  Are there small ways that you can incorporate that attribute into your life as to not stifle who you really are?  Because admit it….we all love getting dressed up in costumes.  Wouldn’t it be nice to let some of that excitement into our every day lives?

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