Why women don’t have to objectify themselves on Oct. 31

By Suzanne Davis

For Striving Onward

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 29 2013 10:00 a.m. MDT

Suzanne Davis, left, and Kyle Calder pose for a picture at a Halloween party.

Courtesy of Suzanne Davis

Enlarge photo»

Editor's note: This post by Suzanne Davis originally appeared on her site, StrivingOnward.com. It has been reprinted here with permission. Davis is the founder of StrivingOnward.com, a digital community where women across the world can support and inspire one another in their roles as friends, wives and mothers.

I’ve never really liked dressing up for Halloween. Maybe it’s because growing up I always wanted to have the cleverest costume instead of the cutest. Think 4th grade science class…

“Suzanne, why do you have cereal boxes with knives stuck in them all over your shirt?”

“I’m a cereal killer.” {Gleeful smile}

“A what?”

{Face palm}.

Or maybe now that I can drive myself to the grocery store and an endless supply of Milky Ways and Twix bars only means extra calories and dentist bills, the allure of transforming myself is growing less and less enticing every year.

But on a more serious note, perhaps the biggest reason I’ve grown to like Halloween even less, is the disappointment I can’t help but feel when I see women (and men) degrading themselves under the guise of celebrating Oct. 31. As this is a site about helping one another become better women, I hope you don’t mind if we poke at this just a little?

Thinking back to my college days, I recall witnessing countless friends and acquaintances showing me their costumes with excitement each year. I’m not in any way trying to be self-congratulatory or self-righteous in sharing these memories — my distaste for Halloween simply kept me on the periphery, and I became more of an observer than a participant. In any case, trying to not let the shock register on my face, I watched as they somehow justified reducing themselves to objects or perhaps what they anticipated were the fulfillment of carnal fantasies on Halloween, appearing as French maids, Little Bo-Peeps, and, yes, even sexy Smucker's peanut butter. Barely able to bend over and constantly having to adjust their tops, they left for this party or that dance, and then would return with shocking stories of women dressed in even less — one in only a bra or that girl who literally just wrapped herself up in Saran wrap. As they ripped off their wigs and slipped out of their heels, I don’t remember hearing about any dates secured, numbers asked for or new quality friends made. I just remember the shock value, the laughter at how ridiculous some women were in taking Halloween too much to the extreme.

I recall thinking back in those days, “Do women really have to dress up in revealing ways to have fun on Halloween? Is this the more mature, more adult way of celebrating the holiday?”

Trying to understand the rationale of this annual parade, I would guess that over the years we as women have created our own standard for dressing up and that creates pressure. Who wants to go as the prudish Mary Poppins or covered-up, classy cowgirl when other women will receive far more attention in a pink mini dress with Crayola lettered down the side or a sexed-up police offer who hardly resembles what we usually see giving us a ticket.

I would also deduce that somewhere down the road, for a lot of these women, there was a pivotal moment when a parent could have cautioned them to wear a more appropriate attire but didn’t. Perhaps for fear of offending their blossoming pre-teen. Perhaps because they did the same thing when they were younger. But I would also guess that that same parent watched their little girl bounce out the door, hungering for the days of more innocent Minnie Mouses, ballerinas and fairy princesses. It’s hard for me to imagine now those same parents catching a glimpse of each year’s costume party on Facebook and not wincing at the thought of their beautiful daughter appearing to be something they never taught them to be. Even for just one night. Even just in the act of celebrating Halloween.

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