It’s Halloween! Are you dressing up?
Even as a kid, the juiciest thing about Halloween for me was the costume.
I’ve always loved costumes. Over the years I’ve donned them for skits and performances at church and school, for Halloween, and just for play. Every few years I ponder throwing a midwinter costume party.
I love how costumes transform and surprise. When I put on a costume, suddenly my voice changes pitch and tempo, I stand and gesture in new ways, and my desires and attitudes shift too. (Try on sturdy cowboy boots and see if you don’t start lumbering along, bow-legged, and begin to drawl. Wrap a black boa around your neck, even over a t-shirt, and notice how your sense of yourself changes, how racy new ideas and fantasies pop into your head. And then adorn yourself with a pink one instead; any changes?)
How freeing to let go of the confines of my usual self! How exhilarating, to act how I think I can’t or mustn’t. Or to allow a mysterious Other to emerge and come alive. Even “playing a type” can be fun relief from a tight self-concept.
I guess costumes also tickle my creative funny bone. I like the challenge and playfulness of pulling together the ensemble, usually out of whatever I have on hand. I’ve always kept a “dress-up box,” even before we had kids, and still do though they’ve grown and gone. Donning a costume I’ve created and letting it expand me feels like writing a play in real time using my body and voice to generate the script.
I especially love it when my friends do not recognize me.
The funny thing, though, is that the costumes I’ve worn on Halloween have varied little over time. In the many years that I dressed up, nearly every single Halloween I was either a witch or some type of gypsy fortuneteller.
Something pretty exotic and alluring, I guess, when I was a kid, and during my academic and attorney days.
I wonder if all that dressing up helped me move closer to that reality?
As you look back, did your Halloween costumes have a pattern? Did the costumes you wore as a child differ from those you chose as an adult? Have you become anything you once put on?
I haven’t dressed up much for Halloween in recent years. The old theme doesn’t seem so exotic any more; what would I choose now? Maybe an earth sprite or a ditzy woman or a crazy artist? Oh, I know–an opera singer would be fun! I’d get to wear a gorgeous dress, adorn myself with big jewelry, sing boldly, and act mercurial. (Or maybe that’s too close to my usual self…)
What would you choose?
(Unfortunately, I could not any pictures of my many witch/fortuneteller costumes.)