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

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) Suzanne Davis, left, and Kyle Calder pose for a picture at a Halloween party. (Courtesy of Suzanne Davis)

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.

So I ask all of us — why do we do this? Why can’t we work together to dress in a more classy and covered-up way? Why can’t we raise the standard for each other? Why can’t we remind ourselves of where true confidence lies — not in being ogled by every male in the room at a party but in knowing what we have to offer them — our hearts, our minds and our personalities? And that we can be just as beautiful to them, just as alluring, in a more conservative costume that demonstrates our self-respect and dignity. Yes, even on Oct. 31.

The world’s normalcies are not the dictators of our standards as women. Instead of looking at Halloween as an opportunity to get away with dressing in less, we can stand for more. We can remind ourselves, our friends, and our daughters, that Oct. 31 is perhaps the most important day of the year to hold on to our purity. To show the world where true beauty lies. And that while a holiday that celebrates the dark and the dreary, we can still be a light. Let’s really have a Happy Halloween this year? #modestishottest #noregrets

We’ve started some ideas on this Pinterest board and would love you to pin YOUR favorite modest costumes! Or have a costume you’re proud of and want to share it? Send us a selfie at Editor@strivingonward.com, and we’ll share it on our Facebook page!

Suzanne Davis is the founder of StrivingOnward.com. A social media junkie and writer by trade, she loves reading classic literature, figuring out new witty hashtags #itsanart, and flipping through fashion and interior decorating magazines. Having recently moved to Los Angeles from New York City, on an idle Saturday you can find her exploring new restaurants, brushing up on her tennis skills and coming up with new and exciting ways to decorate her new house on a budget.

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