I’m not big on wearing costumes for Halloween. I haven’t attended a Halloween party since my early twenties. Even when my daughter was still little, and I took her trick-or-treating, I only dressed up one year. My husband and I went as the Phantom of the Opera and Christine. We gathered with the rest of the family to trick-or-treat in my parents’ neighborhood, and my brother, Steve, teased me for dressing up.
And that’s the thing. I think I have emotional scarring from being teased for the costumes I wore. I remember distinctly one year in elementary school when we were doing an “Outer Space” theme and we were invited to dress up as aliens for the day. I invented my own alien, something about rainbows. Like most of my Halloween costumes as a child, I used an old dance costume as the base and then added onto it. In this case I put a rainbow on my face and had bright ribbons. When I entered the classroom, nearly everyone had on something Star Wars related (it was new then). Expensive Yoda masks, plastic light sabers, so many Princess Leias. I was not an identifiable alien. I wasn’t even green. I got laughed at and picked on. So, I went to the bathroom and changed into my regular clothes and wiped off the makeup.
Of course, I wore costumes every Halloween throughout my childhood. Simple things like a witch or a pirate. Easy to assemble and recognize. When we were very little, my brothers and I still wore those costumes that came out of a box with the plastic face masks. The funny thing is, I don’t have any pictures. My family wasn’t great with taking lots of pictures anyway, but we have nothing. Not one single Halloween picture in my albums. The only pictures of me in costumes are from shows I was in.
Nowadays, if given the choice, I don’t wear a costume or I’ll do the simplest thing possible. I’m a big fan of wearing Halloween-themed T-shirts in October and have donned my Peanuts Halloween shirt every year for as long as I can remember. I’ve worked at my school for 15 Fall Festivals now and have only dressed up four times and always at the urging of a co-worker. This year I invested in a $5.00 pair of cat ears, and my assistant and I went way simple by wearing black and drawing cat faces on our masks. (In my defense, I do work with infants, so it’s hard to wear a complex costume and do my job.)
I just don’t love wearing costumes. It might be part of my intense shyness. Costumes draw attention. They draw judgement, whether good or bad. I feel the scrutiny, and it makes me uncomfortable. Did I dress up enough? Am I too dressed up? Do I look silly or stupid? Despite my experience in elementary school, I still prefer to make my own costumes as opposed to buying ones, even though I know I will feel awkward next to people who spent a lot more money on theirs. While I know this perception is skewed, that people just want to have fun at Halloween, old feelings create a barrier to my ability to enjoy this activity.
The weird thing is, I like making costumes. I do. I had a blast helping my daughter with her Halloween and spirit day costumes over the years. My stepdaughters love to cosplay, and I pitched in a couple times when they were still teenagers to help put something together for them. I’ve costumed myself and others for several plays I’ve done. If I knew how to sew better, I would love being an official costumer for theaters. Searching through Goodwill for the perfect piece to make an outfit work is a blast.
Perhaps this is why I wrote a book about a little girl making costumes for Halloween. I wanted to show the fun that can be had in creating a costume. The frustration of it not working. The elation when it finally comes out right. While Matching Costumes is for the very youngest of children and focuses more on the developmental skills of matching and sequencing, it also lends itself to discussion of making costumes out of things already in the house. If more families made their own costumes instead of purchasing them ready-made, maybe kids like me would feel less embarrassed or ashamed of their creations. Maybe a little girl dressed in rainbow colors claiming to an alien could be cheered for her imagination instead of bullied out of her costume.
Order a copy of Matching Costumes, a fun picture book about creativity and determination perfect for infants through Kindergarten today. Amazon or through the publisher's website. In hardcover and paperback.
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D. G. Driver
Award-winning author of books for teen and tween readers. Learn more about her and her writing at www.dgdriver.com
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Write and Rewrite Blog
“There are no bad stories, just ones that haven’t found their right words yet.”
A blog mostly about the process of revision with occasional guest posts, book reviews, and posts related to my books.