Columnist discusses the problem with Halloween for teens and emphasizes the importance of being true to yourself on Oct. 31

by Hallie Underwood, ’20

Halloween for high school students is a monster in itself. It’s oozing and slobbering and has tentacles and eight big eyes. It hasn’t caused great harm yet, but I can hear it coming already, shaking our suburbs with one stomp of its foot. It certainly won’t kill you, but when you hear it in the distance omitting a rambunctious roar, shivers crawl up your spine.

Halloween for high school students is the weekend before or after Oct. 31. It is crowded basements. It is flash photography. It is half-filled bags of chips and candy on ping-pong tables. It’s not bad, it’s just different.

For many of us, All Hallow’s Eve is nearly as important as when we were kids, slinging pillowcases over our shouders as we dashed around the neighborhood. This year, Halloween came quickly. I had my nose in so many textbooks I nearly forgot the smell of fall air. With a few weeks until Halloween, I began to frantically scroll through my Pinterest feed in hopes of finding the perfect costume.

Pinterest is wonderful for such endeavors. I was cultivated by extravagant hairstyles and makeup looks. Women dressed like Disney princesses and Sandy from Grease and Medusa. Couples costumes that weren’t too corny. But none of it fit into the high school Halloween dress code.

High school students still adore Halloween, but as we’ve grown older, the fun of costumes have faded into whatever we can pull together in our closets 30 minutes before our nights out.

For some, the ensemble consists of a big Columbus Blue Jackets jersey or leggings, a crop top, and cat ears. Maybe creative spirits will beg their finsta followers for a top hat or a pair of neon green tights to be a TV character or an alien.

In my humble opinion, I have found people have gotten older and gotten more boring.

Maybe the ‘monster’ isn’t Halloween at all, nor the loud music that drowns out monotonous party conversations and Snapchat filters. Maybe the growling and oozing is coming from the ugly social standards we high school students feel like we need to be constantly filling.

The holiday, perhaps without us even realizing it, has become a constant stream of “Maybe it’s better to come to a party in a blue tee shirt and jeans, laugh and call yourself a blueberry than come dressed as that beautiful Princess Leia costume from Party City.” Or “Maybe it’s best to slap some cat ears on a black costume for the third year in a row, because what will people think if you walk down those basement stairs dressed like Pennywise the clown?”

How sad that the only day of the year where you’re encouraged to be anything you want to be has been clouded by our need to be accepted? When we were little, our Halloween parade was as diverse and creative as our imagination. What happened?

Columnist Hallie Underwood

“When we were little, our Halloween parade was as diverse and creative as our imaginations. What happened?”

It’s been a tradition of mine to show up to each Halloween party dressed like who I want to be. Because usually, I’m tucking my hands in my sweater sleeves and not saying everything that’s on my mind. It’s nice just to let go of that.

Last year, I was that meme with the picture of Dwayne Johnson from the 90s. That was the beginning of my true “I don’t care what people think” mindset. This year, I threw a Halloween party and served apple cider and cheese pizza dressed as the bride of Frankenstein. It’s wonderful to let go of all this high school worry, even if it’s just for one night. 

Confidence doesn’t come from being everyone else. If you want to dress like a typical school day, do it because it makes you feel good about yourself. If a tube top, jean skirt and a little bit of glitter on your eyes make you feel confident, then no one else should have any say in what you’re wearing.

And if you’re like me, a junior in high school with a love for an “extra” Halloween costume, don’t worry about the strange looks. Because it’s important that on the day that encourages you to be whatever you want to be, you’re not being what everyone else expects from you.

Maybe I’m the only one feeling this way. Maybe I’m just Cady in that scene from Mean Girls where she goes to the Halloween party and she’s the only dressed in a full corpse bride outfit.

But nevertheless, I encourage you to be Pennywise the clown or Princess Leia or the Bride of Frankenstein if that’s going to make you happy. Take an extra moment, as you’re doing your makeup and throwing on a tee shirt and leggings, to ask yourself if you’re who you want to be. Take the spirit of Halloween with you into November and the rest of your high school years. Maybe not the spookiness, but acceptance of yourself no matter what that looks like.