“In the regular world, Halloween is when children dress up in costumes and beg for candy,” goes the quote from 2004’s cult classic, “Mean Girls.”
“In girl world, Halloween is the one night a year when a girl can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.”
Though the movie is meant to be funny, according to Sharmila Sandirasegarane , there is some truth to Cady Heron’s claim.
“As it was said in ‘Mean Girls,’ Halloween is the only time it’s acceptable to dress like a slut,” Sandirasegarane (sophomore-biobehavioral health) said. “I think it’s kind of expected for women to objectify themselves.”
Karrie Vlahos had similar thoughts on the subject.
“If you go to a party dressed conservatively, you might feel like an outcast because everyone else is dressed revealing,” Vlahos (senior-biology) said.
Students, such as Anne-Marie Pietersma, have experienced this feeling firsthand.
Pietersma (junior-integrative arts) recounted her experience dressing in a non-“sexy” costume. “Me and some friends were the Spanish Inquisition. People were like, ‘You have moustaches on, and you’re girls. Congrats,” Pietersma said.
Tess Hamsher has noticed a difference in her friends’ plans for costumes since she got to college.
“In high school, it was harder because you lived with your parents,” Hamsher (freshman-division of undergraduate studies) said.
So why are college costumes more revealing?
Hamsher said that instead of going trick-or-treating, students are going to parties. “It’s a different atmosphere,” she said.
Vlahos attributed college women’s costume choice partially to a lack of selection.
“I think where we are, it’s the norm. When you go to the Halloween store, that’s all you can buy,” Vlahos said.
But according to Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies Ariane Cruz, there may be more to this phenomenon than simple social pressure.
“I would think about the way Western holidays have strayed from their [religious] roots and become a more secular, more commercialized excuse to party,” Cruz said, discussing the entertainment value of modern-day Halloween.
“Costumes are used to reinforce and showcase conventional and traditional ideas of masculinity and femininity,” she said.
According to Cruz, men’s costumes stress the masculine, emphasizing manhood, sometimes with the use of weaponry.
Vlahos believes men’s costumes contrast with those of women, but in a different way.
“I think guys can wear whatever they want. Guys go for funny, mainly,” Vlahos said.
Last year, Jon Callan created a last-minute farmer costume for Halloween.
“I was really not on my game last year,” Callan (sophomore-science) said.
This year, Callan said he might dress as a character from the television show “Breaking Bad” or as a sorority girl.
“I was thinking of being a sorostitute for one of [my costumes], so you might see me sporting yoga pants… and a [sorority] tank top.”
Cruz wondered why men are not often found sporting the same “sexy” costumes as women.
“I would ask us to ask why men don’t wear similar costumes, why such revealing and sexualized costumes aren’t marketed to men in the same way as to women,” Cruz said.
Amulya Khajuri said she notices the difference in skin exposed between men and women’s costumes, but this year she is just trying to keep her body temperature at 98 degrees.
“[Last year,] I was a Greek goddess kind of thing. It wasn’t scandalous, but it definitely did not keep me warm,” Khajuri (sophomore-health policy and administration) said.
Aside from the potential frostbite, the question persists whether revealing costumes are a negative influence.
“I don’t think there is anything bad, innately, dressing that way, but I’m more concerned about the reasons. Are they bending to social pressures or are they doing it because they want to?” Will Olson (junior-supply chain and information systems) said.
Myles Billard agreed.
“I enjoy seeing those types of costumes, but what kind of trouble will that get you with other guys harassing you [or] other girls judging you?” Billard (junior-engineering science) said.
“I think it’s not okay for other women to get mad because it is still their choice [of what to wear].”
Despite the possibilities of social pressure, the cold weather and the “Mean Girls” mentality, Halloween is still Sandirasegarane’s favorite holiday.
“There’s something liberating about being able to dress however you want. You can be anything you want to be,” she said.