Trick or treatment: Our motives revealed
By LISA SMITH MOLINARI | Special to Stars and Stripes | Published: October 25, 2018
I’m not sure what it says about me, but I’ve always gone for a Halloween costume that was funny. While I’d like to believe that it means that I’m mentally secure and don’t mind being the butt of a joke, I’m sure a clinical psychologist would diagnose me with some kind of personality disorder and recommend long-term therapy.
It all started in the fall of 1978 when I was in the seventh grade. My junior high school was having a costume dance, and I was determined to make my mark on the social scene.
Like other girls my age, I laid in bed at night dreaming of cute boys asking me to dance, and how one dance would turn into a whirlwind middle school romance replete with love notes, locker visits and hand holding.
But unlike other girls, I hadn’t quite figured out what I needed to do to attract a young suitor. The only thing I knew was, when I did something funny, I got attention.
So, I painted my face, hair and Pumas green. I cut two holes for my legs into a white sheet and tied the ends around my neck. I stuffed the torso to create a tear-drop shape and wore a crown of long green pipe cleaners.
Voila! My Human Onion costume was complete!
Upon entering the gym on the night of the dance, I could see that no one had a sense of humor as sophisticated as mine. I noticed lots of tiaras and bunny ears, but no other vegetables or even fruits for that matter. The boys would be amazed at my comedic genius; it was only a matter of time before I was asked to dance.
As my tiaraed and bunny-eared friends were called onto the dance floor one by one, I waited. And waited. And waited.
Strangely, not one boy asked me to dance that night. Just as I began to question my strategy, the costume contest results were announced.
Although I would have preferred a cute boyfriend to the Boomtown Rats album I received as a prize, winning first place in the competition confirmed that my sense of humor was my best asset. And I’ve been wearing funny costumes ever since.
Many studies have been done on the psychology of Halloween costume selection. What does it say about a person who picks a sexy, scary, political, whimsical, heroic or funny costume?
Some say that people who dress up like French maids, saucy pirates and sexy cats want to express their sexuality without the consequences of violating social norms. That might be true, but it’s annoying when these people sexualize things that were never sexy to begin with.
The few maids I’ve encountered were sturdy women with thick backs and callused hands. None of them wore flouncy miniskirts, and I’m pretty sure one or two had facial hair. Although I’ve never met a pirate, I would imagine the real-life female version would be missing teeth, eyes and limbs, and probably have horrible breath. And whoever thinks cats are sexy has never scooped out a litter box or watched a cat hack up a hairball.
Let’s face it. People who put on sexy costumes are simply using Halloween as a pretext to strap on a push-up bra, fishnet stockings and pumps.
And that goes for you women, too.
Experts also claim that other costumes indicate psychological issues. People who pick scary costumes are conquering fears from childhood. People who dress like politicians enjoy provoking conflict. Those who portray nuns, priests, schoolteachers and librarians are shy and unapproachable. Cops, firefighters, doctors, cowboys and heroes desire to be taken more seriously. People who choose storybook or cartoon characters want to recapture the innocence of youth.
Apparently, any costume we pick will reveal deep-seeded narcissism, paranoia, attention-seeking, psychosis, rage disorder, gender issues or savior complex. There’s no escaping it. So, unless you plan to sit at home compulsively gorging on your kids’ rejected Almond Joys on Halloween night — not that I’ve ever done that — just put on a costume and let your freak flag fly.