French Maids and Sexy Nuns

Cori Schattner

“Halloween is the one night a year when girls can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.” – Mean Girls

This Halloween marks the ten-year anniversary of the day when I realized that my mother is way cooler than me. In the sixth grade, I showed up to school and was one of five people in costume. I hadn’t caught on to the whole idea of costumes being babyish for middle school. As if that wasn’t enough, I was dressed up as Pippi Longstocking, the title character of the well-known children’s book. She was a spunky-looking girl with red wily-pigtails who was strong enough to lift her horse. In short, not a good idea for an eleven-year-old who was already teetering on the edge of social disaster.

My mother knew this, and she tried to talk me out of it. She knew that I was going to dress up anyway, so she suggested I be a beatnik and wear all black with a beret on my head, thus being relatively inconspicuous. I was going to be a dork either way; it was just a matter of how much this disaster could be held off. I could even carry one of those long cigarette holders, which might even give me extra cool points. That was ok with me for Trick-or-Treating, but I still wanted to be Pippi for school. Needless to say, I spent the day mortified. No one thought I was dressed up, they just thought I was weird.

Ten years later things haven’t changed much. As a college girl, one is expected to use Halloween as an excuse to dress provocatively without anyone actually being able to call you a slut. When I told my mother that I was going to dress up like Lil’ Jon (the performer, not one of the Merry Men) she pleaded with me to pick something pretty to be. Apparently grilz, dreds, and a crunk cup are not sexy, at least not on me. I argued with her about it insisting that it was more important to be entertaining than to be pretty. The surprise came when I viewed myself in the mirror wearing jeans and a t-shirt that are more than twice my size and I didn’t feel funny, I just felt disappointment. “You’re not really supposed to look like Lil’ Jon,”a friend remarked, “you’re supposed to be a sexy version of him.”

A recent New York Times article explored the idea that most Halloween costumes look appropriate for “jumping out of a birthday cake,” and noted that women use Halloween as an excuse to express a part of their sexuality that they’re normally restricted from exploring. If this is true then why aren’t women expressing their sexuality in the first place? Why does one need to go out in public in her bra and if she does, why can’t she just do it any day? Why is it that only on Halloween can women live out their fantasies of being jezebels and strumpets. Furthermore, what gives anyone the impression that other girls aren’t still judging them and labeling them as harlots just because its Halloween? I still judge and just about every girl I’ve talked to said that she has judged or has been judged before. Perhaps everyone’s a little quieter about it, but it still happens. So my message is this: treat every day like its Halloween. As far as judgments are concerned, there is no Halloween escape card so embrace one’s promiscuity – or lack thereof.