food, farming, friends and family: a meditation on chosen simplicity and (in)voluntary complications – life.

Halloween Musings … In December

Halloween might not seem like the most thought-provoking of holidays, it’s true. That said, for the past several years, my mind has been haunted by the same question come Halloween night. It has nothing to do with what costume I’ll wear, nor is it the hesitant – How much candy corn can I get away with eating before my body really starts to pay for it?

No, the answers to those two make themselves clear pretty quickly.

This one though, this one still perplexes me:

How did that girl in the Hooters costume
make me feel?

I’m sure you’ve seen her. She’s huddled in a large group of her similarly-dressed peers (sexy maids, cops, kittens, etc) walking quickly across campus or running into a bar. My freshman year roommate dressed as a Hooters girl – along with the other 50 women in her sorority. I guess that first year of college is when I became aware of the phenomenon that is the hyper-sexy Halloween costume.

So how has that Hooters girl made me feel over these past 8 years?

Disgusted. Insecure. Angry. Invisible. Judgmental. Sad. Hopeless.

Quite the range of emotions, though you’ll notice not one of them is positive. And I know I’m not alone here. I’ve had several conversations (mostly with women) about this same thing, and it’s something we feel strongly about.

So what’s really bothering us? And what do we do about it?

A common thread I’ve noticed is the tendency to place the blame squarely on the spaghetti-strapped shoulders of the women in these situations: they’re so desperate for attention that they’re willing to go out half-naked in the freezing cold – setting womankind back 50 years in the process. It seems obvious, and I’ve certainly thought it. But remember, there’s a (warmly-dressed) “pimp” on the arm of most every “hoe” you see out on Halloween night. Men are part of this too, and part of a larger system that not only asks, but expects, women to sexualize themselves every day and not just on October 31st. If only it were a one-night deal!

Demonizing women is not going to bring us any closer to feeling better about these situations; and, as tempting an alternative as it is, I’m afraid that just shifting the blame onto men won’t offer any solutions either.

But some shift is indeed in order. As is my way when faced with what feel like insurmountable problems, I do two things:

1) I get overwhelmed


2) I try to start thinking of small ways I can affect change in my life.

So here goes: A trip to a shoe store or the bra rack quickly reveals that I am not a cookie-cutter woman. But a trip to the women-only Olympus Spa in Lynnwood reminds me that most women aren’t. Nothing like a room full of naked women to help you realize what a beautiful and varied machine the human body is. A machine we’re hooked to for the long haul – and so of course we have a vested interest in it. But if we could shift that interest moreso to how it works instead of how it looks, I think we’d be healthier and happier for it. It’s hard to untangle my socialized perception of beauty, and so it’s difficult to say what I would want my body to look like if I didn’t have any external influences to consider. But I know how I want it to feel – STRONG.

And so I try to keep that in the forefront of my mind. And to notice and mention the strength and shine in those around me. It’s certainly not a given that the people you care about and spend the most time with are also people that help you to feel good about yourself; but what if it was? I feel lucky to be a part of a beautiful (and strong and sexy) community – of women and men – who are wading through this together. My hope is that our ripples (ripples that have done so much to minimize my own struggles with self-image over the past four years) will continue to patiently and inclusively broaden.

So this year – how did that Hooters costume make me feel?

Inspired and Excited.

Inspired to start talking about it

and Excited about my costume!

So I have to ask – how does that girl in the Hooters costume make you feel?


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