October 31 is a time of the year when people can express themselves without the judgement we would usually face for wearing capes, face-paint, and other ensembles in public. Besides the abundance of scary movies and candy, dressing up is the best part of Halloween.
Costumes can be altered to fit your personal style as well as level of confidence. The amount of times a year everyone is able to, and almost expected to, dress up to whatever extent you like is limited to a couple days at most. Kids, teenagers, and even adults (with events like the Telus World of Science Costume Ball held for those 19+) get in on the excitement every year. Somehow every year we end up debating what’s okay and what’s not for Halloween. If someone feels comfortable how they’re dressed-up, why do debates still occur over what is acceptable?
The amount of offensive outfits compared to festive costumes is few and far between. Most men and women are not dressing up on Halloween with the intention to cause problems for others. Although costumes that demonstrate cultural appropriation, racism, or other things that are huge problems on their own, are not okay to wear under any circumstance. Instead of attacking people personally, the best option is to be informative. Things such as the Caitlyn Jenner costume are controversial because it can spread negative stigma, but Caitlyn herself has said it “doesn’t offend her”. Knowing the facts and doing some research can solve any uncertainty about a costume. Most costume ideas are not offensive, but it doesn’t hurt to double check.
Another issue that comes around this time every year is young women dressing up “inappropriately”. The problem with the word inappropriate being used, is that there are varying levels of what is considered appropriate to each person. If a costume is harmful to a specific group/culture, it’s gone too far. If someone wears a skirt because it goes with their costume and they look cute, how exactly is that harmful? We’re reinforcing sexist ideology in the school system. We already see this with stories about girls being forced to change their attire at school, for wearing shorts “too-short” or showing too much shoulder skin. It’s not the clothing or the costumes that’s the problem, it’s assumptions that people make that’s problematic. Why are we being forced to dress a certain way because of what others might think about us? People put time and effort into their costumes, who cares if it’s not how you’d choose to dress up?
During this one day a year, people should put their biases and judgements aside. Wear what you want and allow others to do the same. It’s Halloween, anything goes!