October 31st. Halloween. All Hallow’s Eve. The day after Mischief Night. High Holy Candy Corn Day.
Whatever you call it, it’s fabulous.
Of course I’m a big fan of Halloween. What’s not to love? It’s completely acceptable to eat your birth weight in sugar, and you get to dress up like an idiot. Great parties are to be had, and somehow I always manage to accidentally wander into the Village Halloween parade.
By the way–I’m all for topical costumes. I’m all for skimpy costumes. But let’s be careful when combining the two? I don’t know that we need a repeat of last year’s “Sexy Chilean Miners.”
Some people do not share my enthusiasm, though. The reasons are numerous. Fortunately, my social work perspective guides me through shutting them down.
- Religious objections
Some people really seem to believe that neighbors handing out candy while marveling at adorable bunny costumes is all about Satan. Some even went so far as to support something called “JesusWeen.” (I’ll wait until we all stop laughing.)
Halloween isn’t evil. If you want to see evil, the work of the so-called devil, just shadow your local social worker for the day. Parents abandoning babies, beating their children, men attempting to set their wives on fire, women encouraging kids to hate their fathers…there is evil in the world. We don’t need to look for it in a day dedicated to pumpkin carving.
- Slutty objections
We all saw Mean Girls. (If you haven’t, do it now. This is the only time I’ll tell you to stop reading, just go do it now!) If not, we’ve all made the same observation. Some young women see Halloween as a time to wear almost no clothing, slap on some ears and possibly a tail, and say they’ve come to school as a kitty.
It’s not my style, I’ll admit. If I can’t sew it by hand, or feel superior when someone doesn’t know the obscure cartoon I took my costume from, I simply want no part of it.
But working with my teen girls’ group reminds me of the importance of not tearing each other down. So many of my girls seem to share the latest “slut” rumors in an effort to join the fun, because they know they’ll be on the other side sooner or later. It doesn’t really matter what they do, everyone has their turn.
Except the guys who enjoy that “slutty” behavior or outfit.
It’s incredible to watch my girls in group come to these kinds of realizations and discover their own feminist beliefs. Everyone judges the pregnant girl, even other girls who have had sex, but don’t have the evidence under their sweater (thanks Juno.) No on thinks about the guys. Who decides how much is too much when it comes to Halloween costumes, or everyday wear?
All us women, let’s try to remember the times it’s been said about us this Halloween, before we start with the judgment. And guys? If you know exactly how many buttons were undone to show off “too much cleavage,” you were probably ogling. So keep it to yourself.
This seems to be the hardest one to argue. We’ve all seen those pamphlets about staying safe on Halloween.
“Treat your child’s costume with flame retardant chemicals.” Yum!
“Trick or Treat before sunset.” Cool! Spooky!
“Don’t let your kids walk down the street alone.” So, is that until age 18, or what? What if the kid in question is 14 and has a kid?
“Tell your kids not to talk to strangers, no matter what this person says.” If I ask a kid which Disney princess she’s dressed up as, and she stares at me in horror, she can forget about getting that Reese’s cup.
“Put reflective tape on the back of your costume.” Why? So my dad’s headlights will blind him as they hit my back while he tails me and my friends down the street in broad daylight?
“Have an adult check your candy before you eat it.” I’m an adult. We don’t come with poisoned candy sensing powers. I have no idea what I’m looking for, other than all of the Tootsie Roll pops. Your parents are also just looking for their favorites, don’t let them fool you.
Most of these “safety concerns” (yes, they deserve sarcastic air quotes) don’t apply to my kids. They’re on their own all time, they’re caring for younger siblings, and strangers are often safer than people at school and at home. Yet a lot of the kids I work with plan to skip school on Halloween, with full approval from their parents. The fears of annual “gang initiations” and slashings of random girls keep them inside. These things are so fueled by urban legend and legitimate fear that it’s hard to figure out how afraid it’s actually reasonable to be.
The kids I work with have such rare opportunities to be kids. I want them to have this one night of being silly and overdosing on sugar. But it isn’t always possible. The neighborhood is dangerous under the best of circumstances.
So if you live in a reasonably safe area, please let your kids enjoy it. Let them wear costumes they might trip over and go out in the dark, even talk to strangers. Because honestly, they’ll be fine.
There are enough actual monsters to be afraid of. We don’t need to make them up.