Halloween 1980: I was headed out the door with a face of fake freckles and a neon orange fringe. My date matched me freckle for freckle. There were over-sized red felt hearts glued to our chest. We were Raggedy Anne and Raggedy Andy, ready for the teen party circuit. I was aiming for ironic and cute.
Dorky was more like it.
Halloween 2012: Google that iconic doll and this pops up. Dorky has left the building. No sign of a revival here.
What happened in the thirty-two year time span? Halloween haunt has simply become Halloween flaunt. Browse any pop up costume store and the aisles are stocked with slut wear. Are there any professions not yet done over in provocateur fashion?
If most of our lives presents a negotiation between public and private identity, then the Halloween playground is a dizzy exploration of the in between. Who will I be today? Who do I choose to show the world?
I have had no shortage of fun playing dress up myself in that grand game of reinvention. Not all my choices were cerebral, but I didn’t feel much pressure from anyone to be overt with my sexuality. The only thing was to be of the moment. Choice was there, in abundance, from our short/mid/long/frizzy/curly hairstyles, to the amount of tease we wanted to exhibit in our costumes. Today, the market of Halloween garb is saturated with skimp and a quick peek at the ubiquitous Facebook and Instagram vanity spreads reveals a boring uniformity of trash.
Where are the originals?
Sexy nurse, witch, flight attendant, cheerleader…really? We get it. You’re sexy. Anything else on offer?
Can I help it that I cheered a little to hear that a group of staff at my kids school dressed up as Occupy Wall Street protesters and sat among the students in their Halloween assembly? Love it. A savvy duo of senior students donned red shirts and a giant letter C and voilà: the Red Sea. A group of friends made an elaborate train complete with hooks linking carefully painted train cars.
And a certain clever teen I love dearly chose Albert Einstein.
Be wise. Be dorky. Be sexy if that’s what’s speaking to you foremost. Travel through time to an era where boots were meant for walking.
But remember, be yourself; everyone else is already taken.
For more on weird culture:
Waiting for the parody: Brad does Chanel
Marilyn is dead but can she still influence?
A warning to a certain Kate: You’re in for a bumpy ride.