Halloween Is About Feeling Safe in Your Self-Expression

For NYU students, Halloween is an opportunity to let loose and adopt an alternate identity.

For many international students, this is their first time celebrating Halloween. (Photo by Jorene He)

Halloween, a night we once dedicated to running around with friends and eating candy, has now become a marathon of party-hopping and costume-flaunting. Although finding upwards of three costumes for each night of the weekend might feel like a chore, Halloween is the only time of year where all judgement seems to be suspended.

New Yorkers have a seen-it-all attitude and don’t tend to stop and stare, but Halloween only amplifies this freedom. Nursing sophomore, Stacy Kim, sees Halloween as the perfect opportunity to let her freak flag fly.

“Dressing up gives me such a sense of relief because there’s really no rules and you can’t mess it up,” Kim said.

For a lot of people, this is a holiday that can be used as a day of freedom, self-expression and creativity. (Photo by Jorene He)

Kim admits she regularly worries about what she wears and how its perceived, whether it’s the formality of the occasion or just the possibility of a fashion faux pas.  

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“I’m always worried if I’m going to be overdressed or underdressed for something, but Halloween is the one time you don’t have to think about all of that. It’s a switch-up from our everyday mundane wardrobes,” Kim said. “I think that Halloween costumes have way more significance than just dressing up. I’m being Lara Croft from Tomb Raider, she’s such a dynamic and inspiring character, [and] that’s who I want to be.”

CAS sophomore Stephanie Than sees that the holiday as a time when people are relieved of their everyday identities and can, for a few hours, be whoever they want.

“It’s just really exciting to choose whoever or whatever you’re into at that time and just be someone else for the night,” Than said. “Whether it’s covering yourself in fake blood or being your favorite Disney character, Halloween is welcome to all.”

Costume hunting can be challenging without any prior holiday experiences.(Photo by Jorene He)

Than added that she plans to dress as Buttercup from “The Powerpuff Girls”: “I always loved that show as a kid, I didn’t realize it but it was my first glimpse at female empowerment, so I’m excited to have the opportunity to be her.”

Some students take the holiday more seriously than others, CAS sophomore Daniel Hawie believes that despite the varying effort put into costumes, its the participation that makes it fun.

“It creates this atmosphere you can’t find anywhere else and at no other time, and for me being a part of that [is] what makes it fun to dress up.” Hawie says. “Some  costumes are funny and some are more serious, but it’s like this new society where people just are whatever they want to be.”

Halloween may not seem like the most worthwhile holiday, with no presents and no time off school,.However, for a lot of people, this is a holiday that can be used as a day of freedom, self-expression and creativity.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Oct. 29 print edition. Email Hanna McNeila at [email protected]

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