“Halloween be damned, there’s laundry to be done.”
That’s been my automatic answer to questions about plans for Oct. 31 for the vast majority of my existence.
Shouldering the blame for what some have diagnosed as a fun deficiency is my mother.
She seemed to believe that the Lower Mainland’s perpetually inclement, autumn weather and the word Halloween amounted to one thing: A garbage bag with head and arm holes poked through.
It didn’t matter what the costume beneath looked like, I was to troll the streets as an ambassador for Hefty bags.
Sure, worse fates have befallen people, but they’re more resilient.
For me, bin-liner day was transformational, forever leaving the appeal of dressing up in itchy wigs and layers of poisonous makeup lost on me.
This, of course, was troublesome in my teens as Halloween is the night to make mistakes. While others were building memories to shamefully refer back to for eternity, I was at home “babysitting my little sister,” which was code for reading Sassy magazines and eating candy I stole from the bowl by the door.
I barely remember my 20s because they were an action packed, presumably jack-o-lantern free blur.
Of course, all good things come to an end, or as the case may be here, good things can be warped by something magnificent: Enter my small human.
Turning the corner toward two, he’s just starting to understand what Halloween is, and when I asked him what he’d like to dress up as for the special day he had his own pat answer—Winnie the Pooh.
No. Ollie, Pooh.
Would you like to be a frog?
No. Ollie, Pooh.
How about spiderman?
He may not understand what Halloween is, but he really knows who he wants to be on the day he gets to stop being Ollie. Not a dead or street-walking one, either, which may have been what made the project challenging.
After realizing I couldn’t shape a garbage bag into the universally beloved willy, nilly, silly old bear, I begrudgingly marched off to every store in the Okanagan hawking Halloween wares.
And, believe it or not, I’ve yet to track down Pooh. What I have found was a profoundly alarming proportion of costumes that would make young tots look like trollops. I’ve been asking others whether this observation merely reflects on my advancing age and my previously stated distaste for the sort-of holiday, and I was told that wasn’t the case. In fact, there was a big to-do about risqué kids costumes at Value Village that I was unaware of until I embarked my search for the beloved bear.
Thing is, while VV Boutique’s now-removed-from-shelves Alterego brand of costumes were unusually sexy for the pre-K set, they aren’t the only ones offering up questionable frocks to young tots heading onto the streets to ask for candy. Sexy costuming seems to be increasingly normal. While I am a bit revolted, I’m not entirely surprised by the sartorial situation. Halloween costumes are merely the amplification of the every day, so to say I was surprised would indicate I have been completely unaware of what young people wear.
That’s been a bit shocking to me for longer than I’m willing to admit.
Little girls are increasingly dressed as though they are women, and not the type of women who lead practical lives or hold down serious jobs. Last week I was at the mall when I saw a girl not much older than my budding-Pooh, wearing heels and sporting some very brassy streaks through her hair.
After I fought the urge to offer her mother shampoo recommendations, I wondered what kind of burden that little girl is bearing?
Will she and others like her face their future with the idea that their bodies are more important than their brains—the foundation of objectification?
It made me guiltily thankful that my little bundle was born into an easier gender to navigate. It also made me momentarily thankful for the hefty bags from days of yore.
They kept me dry, but more importantly they were delightfully reflective of a childhood free of expectations based solely on my sex.