Thursday, November 01, 2007

Halloween...a Pretty, Scary Holiday

Halloween...It's when girls dress up like pretty princesses and boys, like ugly monsters. My sons were a vampire and a skeleton.

J.J. was Robin. Not exactly a monster. But we had the costume in our attic--barely worn because soon after we gave it to Richie, he learned that Robin has no real powers but is really just a sounding board for Batman.

There are other exceptions of course. I saw one girl who looked to be dressed as a dead bride.

For the most part, though, girls are all about the beauty and boys are all about the scare. While trick or treating, we must have seen 100 princesses...but not a single Prince Charming. For every girl that dressed as Princess Padme, there was a boy Darth Vader, for every Mermaid, an evil sea creature.

Even in the When I Grow Up, I Want to Be...category, girls were pop star divas, and boys, dimented doctors or wolfmen in business suits.

Why do girls want to be beautiful and boys want to be scary? I asked my two research assistants, Johnny and Richie.

"Why did you decide to be a vampire?" I asked Johnny.

"I just like the sharp teeth," he said.

Richie said he was a skeleton because he'd never been one before.

So much for that.

Some would say it's marketing. Today, girls are sold Island Princess Barbie outfits, and boys, evil alien attire. Even "scary" costumes for girls, these days, are meant to be cute more than anything else--there's the devilish diva and the fashion show witch, for instance.

But going back to when the only options were plastic costumes from Osco Drug Store or something homemade, girls, for the most part, went for pretty, and boys, goulish.

Looking back, I was a ballerina, an angel and Pippi Longstocking for Halloween.

My brothers were football players, the devil and an escaped mental patient.

They say Halloween is a time to laugh at what scares you. That way, you have the upper hand. There's nothing that makes monsters madder than to be mocked, you know.

And maybe that's what's behind boys' costumes. Johnny, for a while, was terrified of bats because of their vampire potential. And this year, he was a vampire.

Maybe he was saying to his worst fear: You're a big scary guy with fangs. Well, guess who else is? Me. And my friend Jackson. So deal with it.

Girls, on the other hand, are saying to their worst fears: Yeah, you're evil. You're also ugly. I'm pretty. My dress is twirly and frilly. My hair is shiny. So I win.

Or maybe, for them, Halloween is about something different all together. For boys, it's about nightmares. For girls, it's about dreams.

Of course, these are only grownup explanations for what Halloween is about. As it becomes a bigger holiday (some call it Falloween,) everybody is attaching a meaning to it.

Books talk about its ancient origins as a way to confront fearfulness about the coming winter while celebrating the harvest. An odd blend, if you ask me. "I'm so scared of freezing to death this December. But...yea! Fresh corn."

I heard a guy on the radio call Halloween a mini-Spring break for college students. Hence, the popularity of costumes like sexy Snow White, sexy evil old lady selling apples, sexy seven dwarves, etc.

An easy listening station here in Kansas City thought it was about beginning to play nonstop Christmas music. (Wrong.)

But for kids, October 31 is about something much more meaningful.

Candy. The universal language of Disney and Barbie princesses, as well as bloodthirsty vampires and evil trolls. That's what it's always been about.

Well, it used to be about begging for food after the harvest. But basically the same thing. Only this time: M&Ms, please. Hold the freshly harvested wheat. And the dum dums, while you're at it. Thanks.

Hope you had a sweet Halloween and successfully confronted your fear of winter. Hmm...Maybe next year the boys will go as winter.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice!! I can't stand the candy anymore..i just had a take 5 for the 5th time today...

8:20 AM  

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