What Mean Girls Taught Us About Hallowe’en

A screenshot of Lindsay Lohan's character Cady Heron at a Hallowe'en party from the Mark Waters film Mean Girls (2004).

When we were young, Halloween was a time where we would conjure up the scariest or most animated costumes we could think of and parade around the neighborhood with pillowcases collecting candy from strangers. We’d get home, sort our loot into piles of importance ranging from mini Kit Kats to Plain No Name chips and beg our parents to let us pig out on what was mostly likely a school night. We fast forward 15 years and learn that Halloween somehow has taken an interesting shift and the days of decorating ourselves into monsters or princesses and eating our own weight in bite-sized candy has long past us.

It’s particularly hard being a girl on Halloween because of the social expectation to attend whichever Halloween party Facebook group we got invited to dressed in some form of lingerie and animals ears (“I’m a mouse, duh”) and if we show up in anything less, we are sure to turn heads, but not in the way we’d like (“Scary mask, bro”). A few years back, I didn’t have the time or resources to fine tune a scantily clad costume so I borrowed my grandfathers oversized cow outfit complete with a very realistic looking set of udders. The costume also came with ears so I figured I was following the rules, right? I drew a black spot over my eye, wore cardboard cut out moon around my neck and taped a spoon to it. If you’re still wondering what the fork I was going for, I went out as the nursery rhyme, “The Cow Jumps Over The Moon.”

I hit town with my friends thinking my costume was creative, edgy and a conversation piece at the very least. To my not-so-surprise, every person I knew came across at Club Aria that night would come up to me laughing hysterically through their sips of vodka-cran and ask me, “Why did you go out like this?” It was then I learned the truth about Halloween that Mean Girls tried to warn my pre-teen self about back in 2004. As best said by our favourite washed-up red head from the iconic movie people are still quoting to this day, “In the real world, Halloween is when kids dress up and beg for candy. But in girl world, Halloween is that one time of year a girl can dress like a total slut and no other girl can say anything about it.”

In the years following, I caved and played by the rules of girl world and squeezed into uncomfortable, racy outfits and froze my metaphorical udders off (Uhm, hello, it’s October) as I objectified myself at parties and in public places. Sure, no one laughed at me, but I spent my night constantly readjusting myself and casting away drunk, ambitious creepers and suddenly, I missed my pillowcase and mini Kit Kats. Rest assured, this story does have a happy ending.

Through extensive research I managed to find the loophole in it all: couple costumes. This year, in light of the new season of Riverdale (if you haven’t seen it you should check it out) I’m going as the famous couple Archie and Veronica and have found a common ground in the social construct that shapes the mold of western society. The pressure certainly gets taken down a notch when you go out as a package deal and there’s a little more wiggle, or should I say tipping, room in dressing more comfortable and weather appropriate for the occasion.

Regardless of my findings, who’s to say what is right and what is wrong when it comes to Halloween anyways? Girls; if you want to go out dressed as a sheet ghost, a bag of jellybeans, a crayon or even a cow, go for it and most importantly own it. Ignore the comments, live your truth and have as much fun as your 10-year-old self did staying up late on a Wednesday stuffing your face with candy. Not everything in this world has to be cookie cutter and the more you dare to be different, the more other people will want to follow in your cow prints.

Stay safe and have a Happy Halloween, Trent University!