Halloween, Body Image, and Self-Esteem

When you think Halloween, you might think of pumpkins, witches, candy, costumes, or scary movies. You might not think too much about your body image or how others perceive themselves during this time of year. Let's change that.

1. Sexualizing Halloween Costumes

My favorite example of how our culture has sexualized Halloween takes place in the movie Mean Girls. Cady (Lindsay Lohan's character) has been living in Africa for most of her life and returns to the States in the middle of high school. She doesn't understand many of the cultural norms shared by her teenage peers, and attends a Halloween party dressed as a scary, witchy ghoul. Cady is immediately embarrassed to discover that all of the other girls at the party are dressed "sexily", wearing short dresses and high heels.

A quick Google search for "women's Halloween costumes" yields many costumes with a "sexy" twist: fishnet stockings, boustiers, etc. And, if you want to rock these sorts of costumes and accessories on October 31, go for it! My point is is that many women who struggle with their body image and loving themselves struggle with wearing these sorts of costumes.

If you're not comfortable wearing a costume as described above (or you don't want to be cold), there are so many other ways to have fun and wear a great costume without feeling overwhelmingly self-conscious. I typically refrain from sharing personal things on this blog, but I'm making an exception. Here are the costumes I've worn for the past three years: 1)Elliott from E.T.; 2) Rosie the Riveter; 3) Barb from Stranger Things. I had a blast all three years and was really proud of my costumes. Don't let the pressure of dressing up as a sexy bunny or a sexy mouse stop you from enjoying some good Halloween fun.

2. Heckling at Haunted Houses

Haunted houses, trails, and corn mazes are all around us starting in September and lasting through October. It can be fun to be scared by the actors and the jump scares throughout the attraction. However, it's important to know that you have rights as you navigate your way through the haunts.

I've heard stories of people who go through a haunted house and get made fun of and targeted for things related to their appearance of self-esteem. That is not okay. You go (and pay) for these attractions to be scared: maybe you're being chased by a chain saw or a living dead girl is blaming you for her death. These things are part of a story or a narrative that the attraction puts on to scare you. If an actor in a haunted house starts making personal jabs are your weight, appearance, or self-worth, that's not okay and I encourage you to contact management about it. The only exception if if you're aware that this will happen before you enter the house. If heckling is part of the act, you need to know that before agreeing to take part.

I'm passionate about this because I LOVE Halloween and I want everybody to enjoy it. You should not leave a Halloween attraction feeling self-defeated. 


Next week, we'll be addressing anxiety and how Halloween can exacerbate it. 

Emily Teegarden