Halloween 2012 has come and gone and I can’t be the only one who’s wondering what exactly has happened to one of my most favourite yearly traditions.
I can so clearly remember the days of my youth, where every Oct. 31—through rain or snow—my rag tag group of costumed pals would prowl the neighbourhood. Racing against the clock to score as much sugary loot as possible before we were expected to return home, every year was a great time.
But these days, it feels like there’s almost a war on Halloween. I’ve noticed a few disconcerting trends that have me questioning whether it’s even worth keeping the tradition alive.
Trick-or-treating at a mall
I get that there are reasons for kids and parents to be on the cautious side on Halloween. I’m not denying that there aren’t some sickos out there who offer up dangerous tricks instead of delicious treats. But up until this year, I was completely oblivious to the existence of mall trick-or-treating. And I don’t like it.
Listen, I understand the arguments; trick-or-treating at the mall is safer. Everything is sterile, well lit, and it’s perfect for families with small children.
But you know what? If it’s too much to take your young kid around the block, or stop in at a few relatives’ houses to show off their costumes, then don’t bother. Trick-or-treating at the mall just seems like a crummy compromise for the kids, who don’t get to experience the true experience and atmosphere that you get walking around the neigbourhood. When you’re a kid, Halloween is all about going out trick-or-treating. And trick-or-treating is all about hanging out with friends, walking around the neighbourhood checking out the creepy decorations and carved pumpkins while yelling “trick or treat” as loud as you can at each house.
I don’t care if stores are giving away full-sized chocolate bars; if you’re going store-to-store instead of door-to-door for Halloween, you’re doing it wrong.
Creative costumes > sexy costumes
I’m not going to lecture any adults out there who like to have fun and dress up in a sexy costume for Halloween parties. But I think that the amount of pressure that’s being put on women to conform to the sexy Halloween costume trend—and the possible affect that this objectification might have on the younger generations—is certainly more trouble than it’s worth.
As an example, many advertisements now showcase sexy versions of perfectly reasonable costumes.
Why be a cop when you could be a sexy cop? Why be an M&M when you could be a sexy M&M? Why be Dorothy from Wizard of Oz when you could be sexy Dorothy?
As much as this is something costume and party stores must work to remedy, I feel like our society should show more concern for the message being sent to young girls and boys. These sleazy Halloween costume flyers, with all those naughty costumes for adults, inevitably find their way into the hands of impressionable youth. Before long, they too will come to expect that sexy costumes on women are the social norm.
Sexy costumes should be the exception, not the rule for Halloween. Store bought costumes, in general, are incredibly lame. In any costume contest, my vote will go towards the creative, homemade costume that took thought and time to prepare, rather than a sexed up Disney princess costume that was probably bought last minute.
The weirdest part is how they’ll have princess costumes for girls and then the same costume, sexed-up for adults. That seems to be sending a pretty clear message to young girls: see this skimpy version of your costume? This is what is expected from you once you grow up. You can still be a princess, as long as you’re showing cleavage.
I won’t even touch the topic of risqué kids costumes, though I know that it’s becoming a growing concern among some parents.
Overall, the issue comes down to parenting. Speaking on behalf of my generation—the 20-somethings who might be considering starting families—it’s ultimately up to us to restore the good name of Halloween.
As we settle down and buy our own houses, we need to continue to support the trick-or-treat tradition and foster safe and fun neighbourhood environments for kids and families to explore on Oct. 31. When you have kids of your own, skip the mall.