Ah yes, Halloween. The day is full of candy, a cool autumn breeze is in the night air and you have your own special tailored costume on. Wrong. If you live in Louisiana, the day is muggy and you have to drive to a church parking lot to get candy put in your pillowcase because your neighborhood is crime-ridden.
A little bit of backstory is needed, my parents are conservative Christians who did not allow me to celebrate Halloween and did not send me to school if Halloween day landed on a school day. So, my only source of Halloween media was movies on TV.
I think because I did not get to celebrate Halloween growing up I did not understand that Halloween isn’t always magical.
I grew up watching Halloween movies (secretly when my parents weren’t home) and I always thought the Halloween scenery to be autumn-colored leaves in the trees, houses decorated extravagantly and over the top costumes. I fully blame “Halloweentown” and “Hocus Pocus” for giving me this falsehood.
Seven-year-old me was deeply disappointed when the kids at my school did not SERVE when it came to costumes. I can vividly remember the exact moment I lost hope in Halloween costumes.
I was in class, without a costume, because Halloween did not fall on a school day so I still had to go to school. But the school decided to celebrate Halloween during school so kids could show their costumes off, I guess. And I was judging everyone really hard, mostly out of envy.
In my head, Halloween was supposed to be an extravagant affair that people prepared for months in advance and got their costumes made to perfection. So, naturally, I was expecting my fellow seven-year-olds to show up in these extravagant outfits. Spoiler warning, I was not met with that at all.
One of my classmates showed up in a messy red wig and a green maxi skirt, light-up Barbie shoes and a shell necklace. She was supposed to be Princess Ariel. Throughout the day I was met with more disappointment. I developed a hatred for poorly screen printed fabrics. Younger me was ruthless when it came to critiquing costumes. Clearly, I thought myself to be a Disney-level costume designer.
Now as an adult, I fully understand why children were given cheap costumes. They are seven, running around eating candy and rolling in the muddy grass. It’s not worth it to give them an elaborate, true to source, expensive costume.
Now, I cannot give the same excuse for teenagers. I think in high school my parents stopped caring about their Halloween rule. I had a GPA to keep up, so I did not allow myself to miss days randomly. So, I got to experience Halloween for real now.
Again, I was met with disappointment. But this time it was not because of ugly costumes, it was because high schoolers rarely wore costumes, period. At least in my high school they did not, I think they thought that Halloween was only for little kids.
Every now and then a brave soul or group of souls would wear costumes but that never gained traction.
What I found weird was that these were the same kids who went hard a few weeks before Halloween for Homecoming dress-up days. I also think that they were focusing on school (shockingly) and saving their Halloween costumes for their own Halloween parties. Don’t ask me what that was like, I was never cool enough to be invited.
There was this one basic Halloween costume that infuriated me though. I hated it, and still do today, with a passion. It’s “The Purge” neon-lit mask, the ripped fishnets, bloody white shirts and the fake plastic knives. I hated seeing them, they were boring, tacky and put together last minute. And it would always be a group of 10 girls that repeated the same costume year after year. They even used the same mask every year.
Now, in college, I like that college kids at least take Halloween as a serious event. On Halloween night I get to at least see some variations of costumes walking around. The Halloween parties and after parties aren’t too bad either. I was cool enough to get invited to those.
They are still cheap because we are college students and Halloween isn’t a monetary investment like college is.
I do appreciate the cheap costumes as well as the more put together ones. I’m not against poorly made costumes, I was just made to believe that everyone had a Disney costume designer’s budget. But now that I finally got to celebrate on my own I understand that Halloween just sneaks up on you and you rush last minute to find something to wear. I now dress up to eat free food and go to parties with my friends; I also judge costumes less harshly now.