Katy’s Korner: Already in a crisis over Halloween costumes? Just be S.M.A.R.T.
Halloweekend is coming and I’m so freaking excited for the best holiday of the year, but I’m having costume issues. What to wear, what’s relevant, what’s offensive?
Ah yes, the spookiest time of the year. I myself have been unduly excited by the approach of what’s looking to be a two-weekend event. Halloween is that night where people actually go hard for the themed party. Yes, it’s still a spectrum. Some are the Jim Halperts with a minimalist “Nudist on strike” sign. Some are the Dwight Schrutes in full cosplay fortnight garb. But either way, no one shows up in just khakis and a button down, or a black crop top and a jean skirt. Or they do, but it’s ironic. This all goes to say that people care about Halloween. Some more than others, but the main point is that people will be looking at what you are wearing more closely, and you want to make sure that you are representing yourself well, no matter who or what you are impersonating. Your costume should be sensitive, monetarily acceptable, relevant and trendy: SMART.
What does sensitive mean? It means that before you walk out the door, before you hit “add to cart”, you think to yourself, “How could someone who’s not me take this?”. If you are of an identity that inherently has more power and privilege than another identity, dressing up as that marginalized identity for Halloween would be extremely insensitive. Last year we wrote a staff editorial noting this as “punching down”. Our campus has a history of feeling exclusionary to those of marginalized identities and it would be more than a shame for you to show up as Stanley Hudson in full blackface and perpetuate that. Everyone loves Pretzel Day, but blackface is not the way to show that episode of The Office, or that character, respect. To expand further than identities, if you are planning on dressing up referentially to an event, make sure you do your research. Don’t dress up as a Natural Light beer and write “I like beer” on your shirt before googling why people keep talking about that phrase. If you are dressing up as something to be purposefully inflammatory, consider why doing that is so important to you. Why do you feel the need to throw your unearned privilege in someone else’s face? Are you afraid of losing it? Does that really make sense?
Don’t break the bank on Halloween. Weekend Wear, a new business on the South 40, offers costume rentals and is a great place to start looking for inspiration. Before you gravitate to the pesky internet, check out Johnnie Brock’s Dungeon. Just an Uber ride away, you can find a plethora of costumes there, and have the ability to see the items in person. Consider crafting a costume yourself if you’re artistically inclined. If you are more minimalist, look for ideas within your own closet. If you do venture online, make sure you make moves quickly so it comes in time, and resign yourself to the knowledge that it might not fit right. Halloween shop with the knowledge that it might be more prudent to ask around before deciding that you can’t afford to go as “that”, or spending an exorbitant amount of money on “that”. It’ll surprise you the amount of people that have a travel box of costume stuff in their closet and are willing to share.
Relevant and Trendy
The best costumes are always the ones that are down with the times. The more Washington University-specific, the better. If you can find a way to be a “don’t step on turf” sign, do it. A robot Chancellor Wrighton (punching up), do it. The vine attributed to your Greek organization on the Wash. U. Meme Page, do it. Maybe you’re a character from your favorite TV show, or a pun or you found a pop culture person that looks just like you and you’re them. Maybe you dress up as your friend and they dress up as you. As long as you think compassionately and empathetically about the relevant and trendy idea you have, and remember that Halloween shouldn’t break the bank, it should be a memorable Halloween. I bet one singular person glances over at you and says, “Hey, nice costume”, before walking away to selfishly obsess over their own.
Have a question for Katy? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with “Advice” in the subject line, or submit via direct message to Student Life’s social media.