The Halloween Costumes That Taste Forgot

Posted on: Oct 31, 2014

Should Halloween costumes be tasteful? Or should Halloween just be a free pass to dress up as whatever the hell you want, if you think it's scary?

Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat care and support minister that no one's heard of until today, thinks that 'psycho' outfits demonise people with mental health problems and should be banned, as they perpetuate the stereotype that mental illness is something to be feared. Others joined in the argument that you wouldn't dress yourself up in a cancer patient costume for the purposes of trick or treating, so why dress up in a straitjacket and chains?

This is a tricky one, as I think anyone with half a brain cell would look at someone dressed up in that fashion and identify it with an extreme representation, a costume based on how mental health patients were (mis)treated over a hundred years ago. Some costumes are also clearly based on a specific literary or cinematic figure: Hannibal Lecter with his mask, Patrick Bateman with his blood-splattered rain coat, Norman Bates (the original Psycho) with a bloody knife.


We could also play devil's advocate and ask modern day witches if they think pointy hats and plastic noses should be banned. And how about Frankenstein's monster, made up of the parts of dead bodies? Does he offend people that have received organ transplants or skin grafts?


You don't have to look far to realise that there is no limit to the ludicrousness of Halloween costumes. You can now spend your hard earned cash on a Sexy Ebola Containment Suit costume...which appears to just be a standard sexy nurse outfit with yellow wellingtons and a genuinely scary looking face mask. (I've always wondered how real-life health care professionals feel about 'sexy nurse' outfits, maybe if there's any reading this they can let me know!)


Mind you, I find the onslaught of costumes packaged as 'saucy' or 'naughty' downright hilarious – we live in a world where a dress that makes a vague attempt to mimic the colours of a hamburger can be passed off as a Sexy Hamburger costume. God help us, you can also be a Sexy Elmo. Childhood. Ruined.


I think that, somewhat inevitably, Halloween has joined Christmas and Easter in the ranks of 'Holidays that are celebrated in ways which bare little resemblance to their original intention'. Christmas = mass consumerism and sparkly tat. Easter = chocolate and bunny overload. Halloween = sweets and bad taste. I'm waiting for the day New Year's Eve is celebrated by dressing up as a seductive potato and exchanging gifts made exclusively from cat hair.


Happy Halloween Everyone!

halloween costumes
Some of my recent costume efforts - I'll let you be the judge of how tasteful they are...

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