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Halloween costumes pose potential problems

As Halloween approaches, Bruins are faced with decisions on what costumes to wear. Photo by Martin Foster

Halloween can be a fun time to dress up as whatever you want and push the limits of what you would normally wear, but some believe the limits are being pushed too far. There are many issues that Bruins have, including masks, gory costumes, pressures to wear certain things, and “sexy costumes” that challenge or break parts of the dress code.

Some students have felt pressured to wear certain costumes. Senior Nicolas Tan expressed that he thought this could actually be a positive thing.

“Dressing up’s a thing that’s come across culturally over the years,” he said. “I feel that it just becomes a part of the norm around here, and, if you don’t dress up, you’re one of the odd people out. Dressing up is fun, too, and I think everyone should do it because it brings out a crazy side that you’re not normally used to seeing.”

Senior Marie-Claire Desplancke thought that these pressures could be used in a harmful way instead of encouraging people to have fun.

“You’re pressured because you see all this stuff on social media, and then you hear what other people are doing, and … unfortunately for girls, we’re stereotyped to the bone,” said Desplancke. “Like, every little detail is super important, and it’s because we try to live up to these models. We have to fit in a certain way, you can’t be a certain way, you can’t be this certain thing. You feel just like you’re going to get criticized for whatever you wear. Like, if I wanted to be a witch … there are two different types. You could be a witch, like you were when you dressed up when you were five years old, the cute one, or the super sexy one … I feel like in high school you’re supposed to dress up as the sexy one, but me, I just want to wear my stockings. I think that’s why I feel a little bit pressured.”

School Counselor Bethany Williams also felt that Halloween costumes are unnecessarily sexualized.

“There’s kind of a societal pressure to be sexy in general, and more so when it comes to Halloween,” she said. “Recently, I was shopping for my daughter, who’s ten, and they even make suggestive costume outfits for a ten-year-old. So I think it’s something that society is doing, and I do think it’s a problem, and I think our youth are being sexualized early on … I would love to see, if Bear River is concerned about it … a creative theme to help people  make that healthier choice of not wanting to be sexy.”

The pressure to wear sexy costumes can be problematic. Most students agree that more promiscuous costumes can be a source of distraction, and that they’re not appropriate for school. Senior Layla Ray believes students should keep these costumes out of school.

“When it’s during school time, I understand that its a distraction because, yes, when you look at someone and they’re wearing short shorts, people do tend to stare, and if they’re wearing a low-cut top, they also stare,” said Ray.  “It’s not just a distraction for the males, it’s also a distraction for the females, because, not only are we a very populated LGBTQ community here at Bear River, but people also like to make fun of other people for wearing low-cut outfits, and, when it comes to Halloween, I feel like people should wear the appropriate kind of costume. Yes, you can wear fishnet, yes, you can wear cute costumes and everything, but if it’s something that’s going to show everything, wear it after school.”

Others like Tan feel like students use Halloween as an excuse to dress up inappropriately.

“It just gives people an excuse to wear something skimpy and get away with it where they shouldn’t, and everybody’s going to be focused on them,” said Tan.

For the most part, Desplancke agreed with Tan.

“It brings up the whole dress code, and … I really do not like the dress code, but there are certain things where it’s a little too much, and you’re only in high school,” said Desplancke. “You don’t need to be the sexy maid. That’s just not school appropriate, and it makes the other girls feel bad.”

Some students believe they were unfairly dress coded for wearing costumes. Ray shared her experience.

“I was wearing a tiger costume with fishnet, and the costume came above my knee, and I got dress coded for it,” she said. “I got told to either go home or wear sweatpants, and I told them that we had one more period left, and I wasn’t changing or going home to make guys not look at me the way they think they would. They kind of just ignored it and went on with their lives … I don’t believe that I was fairly dress coded for what I was wearing, and I understand that high school students do try to do the more sultry kind of costume, but that’s not at all what I was trying to do, and there were people who were showing things that I wasn’t, and they didn’t get a warning or get dress coded whatsoever.”

Another issue students face on Halloween is not having the ability to wear masks. Masks are viewed by administration as something that could be potentially dangerous because they hide people’s faces and could possibly let unwelcome people that want to do harm onto campus without anyone noticing. Currently, while masks are not expressly prohibited by the dress code, they are banned due to concerns about intruders, including potential school shooters. Masks will be removed if you are found wearing oneVice Principal Cathy Peterson clarified this rule.

“That’s the way it’s always been. … it’s just logical,” she said. “I don’t need to tell you to eat your lunch when the lunch bell rings.”

However, students disagree on how they should be regulated. 

“I think masks should be allowed,” said Tan. “Not in classes, because then you can’t really focus on your studies, but I think, in general, they should be allowed, because people are too paranoid nowadays about threats and letting certain people on campus. Really, I think it’s fine.”

Desplancke shared a similar opinion.

“It depends on the type of mask,” she said. “Like, even just the one that covers your eyes for, like, a ninja is banned, and I think that’s kind of dumb. We know who you are, but if you’re going to cover your entire face … it really all depends on the costume. If you just purposely have a ski mask on, no.”

Gory costumes that show lots of blood and guts are also a controversial topic.

“I think that even though this is a high school setting, it should still be down to a mild gore level,” said Tan. “It’s really not necessary, it’s fun dressing up as a skeleton or a zombie, but you don’t need to add all the gore with it because it’s unnecessary.”

Desplancke agreed with Tan.

“Sometimes people can be really good at makeup, where they can do the zipper across the face and have guts coming out,” she said. “As long as it’s not where certain things are being shown, like body parts, like where you have a ripped up shirt and your heart falls out. I think that’s a little too much.”

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Halloween costumes pose potential problems