I’m not going to rehash last week’s comments on women’s costumes all being sexy or costumes being politically correct, except to say that where I work three people showed up dressed as Indian (North American First Nations) women. Of them, one woman is Arabic Asian, one is white and one is mixed blood. None of them seem to feel they’re making fun of or disrespecting the historical dress of long ago.
So I’m just going to go through some memories of my past Halloween costumes, with pictures. A long time ago a friend sewed me a costume out of pewter satin. It involved a cape with shoulder pads and a skirt rucked up into gathers. I wore green with it and maybe antenna and was an alien of some sort. I’ve been a witch, a fortune tell, which in it’s second incarnation involved sitting at my desk at work and having people pay .25 cents to get a fortune, like those old, glass-enclosed fake tellers. I’m big on theme parties and have done one where it was blues and therefore blue clothes, gods, bad boys and bad girls, fairy tales and a mad hatter party. The Kali costume to the right was last minute. I bought a bunch of dolls from the dollar store and strung their arms and legs around my waist, their heads around my neck and had a spare pair of stuffed arms. Really, I should have had at least another set and I should have been blue but it was good enough.
I’ve been Little Bo Peep, complete with sheep purse, and Sleeping Beauty. I’ve been a pirate, a virgin (as in the Medieval sacrifice style), and a Middle Eastern dancer (which is cheating since I do bellydance). I’ve done Bride of Frankenstein, twice. The second time I used chicken wire to pull my hair up around the frame, already having the blonde streaks. I painted the skin
appropriately, used actual thread that I made into stitches and adhered with spirit gum, and cut a thread spool in half and glued it to my neck. I recycled the cheaply sewn dress into a zombie costume last year. The makeup is fairly time-consuming and can take up to two hours to do. I’ve also made up a few friends as zombies.It’s pretty each to start with white, add blue and black for shading, or even greed. I then draw blue veins over the top, and add fake blood. The good thing about being a zombie is that your makeup doesn’t need to be very precise. Splotchy is okay. Some zombies are with just white makeup and some red blood. Some are greener. It all depends on how you want to do it.
The problem for me is that I never start thinking about a costume early enough and then slapdash stuff together last-minute. This year, I was going to go as fall. I picked up a bunch of leaves of the ground (before the rain started) then dipped them, before they dried out, in paraffin wax. I was then going to sew them into a garment. Well, I couldn’t quite figure out the logistics of waxed leaves and sitting down. Maybe they’ll become a wreath.
Instead I lucked into a costume through a friend who sews for the stage and sometimes checking your local stage production groups might net you a costume for a rental and cleaning fee. I went as Marie Antoinette, and though the costume worked, I couldn’t get in or out of it by myself.
My sister tells me that in Calgary some religious fundamentalist group was trying to “reclaim” Hallowe’en and call it Jesusween, saying costumes were evil. That’s pretty typical of any fundamentalist religion, where facts aren’t checked and sweeping statements are made. Hallowe’en was never a Christian holiday, though they did adopt the day after as All Saints Day. Something tells me that the stupidly named “Jesusween” is not going to catch on. I think dressing up isn’t just for kids, nor just for Hallowe’en. That’s why I’ve had theme parties. It’s for fun, when life gets too heavy. So here’s to Hallowe’en, in all its connotations, from a time to dress and forget the cares of the world, to a time when the veils thin between the worlds and the spirits step near, and a time to honor the dead who have passed in the year before.