As the end of October approaches rapidly, anticipation for Halloween grows each day. Much like many people my age, I have always loved Halloween — the thrills and chills, haunting decorations, free candy from strangers and the opportunity to be someone else for the night. Yet each year, I still find myself dreading the supposed “best” part of Halloween: costume shopping.
Last Halloween, I sported a Batman costume complete with batarangs and a mask, which got interesting comments from some of the folks back home. From sly comments such as, “It’s too warm for you to wear that,” to questions like, “Aren’t you wearing a little too much?” people at home couldn’t seem to fathom that I was wearing more clothing than they expected me to.
I suppose everyone was expecting the archetypal “woman’s costume” consisting of short, tight-fitting material and some species of animal ears. Yet herein lies the baffling double standard: when a woman dresses in this manner, she is automatically labelled as sexually promiscuous and lacking in self-respect.
Societal expectations of how women should dress during Halloween run rampant, and I hoped to escape such an attitude by coming to Andover. Unfortunately, I have already heard comments across campus about how girls who wear scantier outfits are “asking for it” or that they “are demeaning themselves.” As a new student, I expected Andover to be above this slut-shaming culture. In order to become a nonjudgmental and accepting community, we must work toward deconstructing the unnecessary scrutiny that often accompanies the way women dress, regardless of how outwardly they choose to express their sexuality.
In order to eradicate the social stigma associated with wearing more “scandalous” clothing or costumes, we as a community need to understand that an individual’s dress does not dictate one’s personality, dignity or worth. A woman can have the same amount of self-respect wearing a “sexy nurse” costume as she does wearing a baggy sweatshirt and jeans, but, most importantly, it is simply not the place of someone else to judge what a girl wears.
Halloween should be a respite from our typical Andover anxieties as a night to relax for a few moments rather than worrying about others’ perceptions of how we look. It should be an enjoyable holiday for all — no one should have to alter what they would like to wear for fear of how people may react.
_Emily Ndiokho is a Junior from Allen, TX._