Before Halloween was sexy, it was scary. As a kid, Fright Night filled me with fear of scary movies, fear of the dark, fear of something jumping out at me, fear of showing off too much of my body. Nothing set off the fight or flight response quite like the prospect of wearing the revealing Halloween costumes some of my peers were sporting. TBH, dressing up as sexy-anything was not going to fly with my mom, nor something I felt comfortable with. When I did dress up, it was as a pumpkin, or Mary Catherine Gallagher from Superstar. I was an awkward teen not comfortable enough in my own skin to wear a dress, let alone something that required a strapless bra or was too low cut. Flash-forward several years (spent slowly coming to terms with myself) to the golden era of the sexy Halloween costume, and now I wear skimpy, tight, revealing costumes around my kids. What is mom going as for Halloween? A slightly raunchy Harley Quinn, or a sassy Super Mario, or — you better believe it — a sexy sailor.
Everything changed in my junior year of college. I stopped trying to figure out what group I belonged to (no group) and found I had enough confidence to start picking out the “sexy” costumes at the party store. Women cop a lot of flack for supposedly turning Halloween into an opportunity to show off, but to be fair, these costumes don't come with an alternate value system. It's actually hard to find a costume that isn't labeled as "sexy," unless you want to go as a lumbering fleece unicorn. I mean, my “sexy” sailor costume was really just a sailor costume and my “sexy” school-girl costume just had a shorter top. That’s it. Nothing more.
I didn’t buy these costumes because I wanted male attention, or to be catcalled, but because I liked the way they fit and the way they made me feel. Finally, I was comfortable in a costume that suited my frame. I was not looking for attention from college boys — or later, men — I just wanted to feel good about myself.
And this doesn’t mean I wasn’t playfully called a “slut” by a friend in a “you go girl” type of way. When did it become okay for people to chime in with their opinion on a women’s costume? Becoming a parent to two girls has made me wary of labels, and resulted in tossing out stereotypes and removing words, such as slut and whore from my vocabulary.
I can relate being an awkward teen adjusting to the effects of puberty on her body to becoming a mother, and seeing your body go through another transformation. What I want for all moms is to find a sense of comfort in your body post-pregnancy, post-childbirth, when you dedicate most of your time to your kids and spend very little on yourself. As a mom whose body has carried two babies to term, has stretched and deflated, has been cut open for an emergency c-section, and still has the dark happy trail left over from pregnancy, I’ll be dammed if I stop wearing fun costumes that make me feel good about myself just because I'm a mom. Or because others believe a fitted costume is too revealing.
Feeling good about myself is not based on how tight the dress or how many compliments I receive but rather what the outfit makes me feel about myself. I dressed as a minion from Despicable Me one year and I felt great in those overalls; another year I dressed as a cat with only the ears and black face paint. No skintight leotard needed — but props to all those moms who rock that look! When I was pregnant, I dressed like a nun because everything was uncomfortable but I wish I could have been more comfortable rocking the Wonder Woman outfit I’ve seen a few moms wear this year.
I model confidence to my daughters in various forms. If I see my 4 year old shying away from dancing in a group of people, I’ll make sure to do the Elaine from Seinfeld so she sees her mom brave enough to dance her way. When she tells me her voice isn’t as “high” as Queen Elsa’s, I’ll belt out “Let It Go” in my tone-deaf voice so she understands it’s not about sounding like others, or being able to dance just like everyone else — it’s about having fun and feeling good.
I try to teach them body confidence; that feeling good in your body has nothing to do with your size or shape, and everything to do with self confidence.
There are so many costumes to choose from and so many strong women to emulate on Halloween, like Frida Kahlo or Joan of Arc. My daughter chose to dress as Wonder Woman — a costume that might be written off as "sexy" in an adult size, but which is inherently sporty and powerful on her; the kind of thing she can run and jump in, or imagine gives her super powers.
I’ll completely support their costume choices and I’ll join in — as long as I feel good in whatever I’m wearing. Sorry not sorry, but no one can tell me or my daughters that there is a right or wrong way to dress for Halloween, or any other day. Because I love my body even more since having children and I choose to wear what I feel most comfortable and confident in every single day. Halloween included.
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