Why Can I Only Express My Sexuality During Halloween?

Shraddha Bhavesh Jajal

Halloween — full of costumes, candy and parties — is many people’s favorite time of year. In some ways, Halloween is an annual opportunity to be whoever you want to be without any backlash. Although this idea applies to the majority of people who celebrate this spooky holiday, this opportunity for self-expression is most pertinent to women, especially young women. Society pushes women to dress sexually during Halloween, with costumes such as sexy kitten, sexy bunny and sexy nurse. However, throughout the rest of the year, women are reprimanded for dressing in a provocative way. Society has a hypocritical view about the way women dress and present themselves, and that needs to be brought to light.

Halloween was originally a Celtic holiday, put in place to ward off ghosts. Somehow, it transformed into a day when kids go from door-to-door to get chocolate, while others drink and party the night away. I remember as a kid — maybe around 10 years old — I was a bigger girl and I would always have to look at the preteen Halloween costumes in Party City. I come from a rather conservative background, so as my mom and I looked around for a costume, it was very difficult to find one that covered my chest area. That was disappointing because there were many cute costumes that I would have loved to wear but simply could not buy. Of course, now, as a 19-year-old, I do not mind wearing more revealing clothes, but I do not think that same standard should have been imposed on 10-year-old me.

I have lived in two very different countries: India and America. In India, my father and grandparents would reprimand me if I even attempted to walk out of the house in shorts. And why? Because if I did, the men would look at me, and that was not good. But here’s the thing — even when I would walk out of my house wearing jeans and a plain T-shirt, men would still stare at me and make noises. This situation is slightly better in America. If I walk out wearing shorts, no one gives me a second glance, which I appreciate. But, if I dare to be more revealing with my clothes, I’m apparently inviting men to look at me. Why should my clothes be of any concern to men on the street? In schools, girls are told to cover up, but why aren’t the boys taught not to view the girls through a sexual lens?

Halloween is supposed to be a fun holiday, and it is. You can wear what you want and no one will do anything but compliment. However, if you wear the same outfit on the street on Nov. 1, judgment will rain down on you. I think it is for this reason that women go all out on Halloween. It is the one day of the year in which they do not feel the burden of society’s judgment gazing upon them. But, every person on this earth should feel comfortable to be who they want to be, wear what they want to wear 24/7 without any repercussions or judgment. This applies to both men and women, of course, but as a woman who deals with this kind of treatment regularly —  from being harassed in the street to having teachers telling me to cover up while boys face no scrutiny —  this message is especially important. This Halloween, I just want to tell everyone that they should be whoever they want to be not just on Halloween, but for all 365 days of the year.

Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them. Email Shraddha Bhavesh Jajal at [email protected]

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