This is Halloween

Halloween in Austin is one of the best times of the year – whether you’re the extroverted Life of the Party or the Observant Wallflower – Halloween in Austin is equal parts partying (i.e. a heightened probability of alcoholically influenced poor decision-making) and amusing people-watching (oftentimes, people-judging). On a typical week day in Austin, it is not at all uncommon to see sleeves full of tattoos or florescent hair pigments that cannot be found in nature – so imagine the opportunity Halloween presents for this pool of already weird, colorful and creative residents.

I enjoy dressing up and experimenting with makeup, hairstyles and accessories that fall outside the parameters of my everyday wardrobe, but every year, I personally face a series of internal struggles with Halloween. For instance, I’m pretty lazy and cheap when it comes to costume assembly – I don’t like the idea of spending exorbitant amounts of money on elaborate wigs or craft materials intended for one-time use nor do I want to spend a few hours painting scales on my face or creating a structural masterpiece out of cardboard and zip ties. However in spite of this seemingly apathetic view on costume creation, I’m actually pretty picky about ideas. I just hate generic, store-bought ideas that don’t require an ounce of thought, originality or taste, and I hate going downtown and seeing a sea of uninspired pirates, sailors, bumblebees and cats.
I know I sound pretty judgmental right now, but it’s just a matter of personal preference. On the one day a year that I can literally wear anything and embody anyone, I don’t want to grab a pair of ears and a tail and call it a day. I don’t want to buy one of those gross, ill-fitting, polyester monstrosities that they sell in creepy zip-lock bags. By no means am I insinuating that others are wrong for going to Party City and buying the first thing that fits and mildly strikes their fancy, but I always try to avoid  defaulting on the road most taken.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve read a variety of opinions and perspectives about dressing up for Halloween. I thought I’d share two that particularly entertained me and made pretty compelling arguments. The first comes from the male perspective on why you (a dude) should not pick up the girl in the slutty Halloween costume. Askmen.com echoes a few of my aforementioned opinions about how people who choose these generic costumes lack taste and imagination, but the author also points out that these revealing ensembles leave little to the imagination. What’s the fun in undressing a girl who’s barely wearing anything anyway? But I think the most interesting argument this guy makes is that these slutty costumes are oftentimes misleading. Since dressing overly sexy on Halloween is considered female normalcy nowadays – shy girls, uptight girls, prude girls and just plain not-slutty girls kind of appear… slutty. On Halloween, these chicks may seem like choice options for a drunken makeout or a one-night stand, but in reality, they’re probably not.
Ironically, the second article comes from the female perspective in defense of the slutty costume. Sure, it’s more of a memoir, but the intelligent, fashionable and funny founder of ManRepeller.com recounts her 17-year-old experience of making the out-of-character, peer-influenced decision to don a sexy flight attendant costume for a house party where she ended up attracting the attention of an older college-aged male who she eventually started dating and ultimately marrying down the road. I suppose her article is less about dressing provocatively to meet members of the opposite sex, and more about being comfortable in your own skin, having fun and owning whatever character you decide to embody on Halloween. But this author also demonstrates that not every girl in a leather catsuit is an easy, idiotic bimbo. In fact, she could very well be a smart, funny individual with substance who simply didn’t have anything to wear.
It’s hard to believe I’ve been dressing up and celebrating Halloween for more than two decades now. And in my adult life I’ve dabbled with temporary tattoos, clip-on hair extensions and dangerously short hemlines that severely restricted the ability to bend over. However, more recently I’ve also found dressing up as dudes remarkably fun and liberating. I’ve gone as Bret Michaels, Tim Lincecum and my former boss over the past few years – and I don’t know what it is about wearing facial hair or perhaps, simply comfier clothes that makes Halloween the ridiculous, lighthearted and goofy occasion that I think it should be.
I guess I don’t care if you choose to take the sexy route or the humorous one, as long as there’s some thought or meaning behind whatever you choose. Like most women, I think dressing up and looking good is fun and empowering – there are plenty of costumes that show skin that look great – perhaps because they befit the character being portrayed or showed originality. I will always be impressed by the babelicious Chun-Lis, Princess Leias and Lady Gagas I see, but I will always roll my eyes at every sexy police woman, sexy nurse or sexy race car driver. In fact, some options are downright inexplicable like the sexy hamburger or the sexy Bert and Ernie. Our favorite Italian plumbers are supposed to be plump, mustachioed and hairy – so why sexualize our favorite SNES icons? I think it’s fine if you’re a Gryffindor, but since when did Hermione expose her cleavage and belly button?
Once again, I digress. After all, Halloween is tomorrow and it’s not like there’s much time for you to throw something together anyway. I just hope I see all of you Austinites in your Thursday best ready to party tomorrow night. We live in an awesome place and we should keep Austin spunky and weird on one of the funnest days of the year.
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