More than a few people have remarked that the masquerade costumes people choose to wear on Halloween reveal a person’s deeply hidden secret nature. This hypothesis is less true for children because they rarely have such secrets. Young girls like to dress up as princesses or they toy with their dark sides by going trick or treating dressed as witches. Young boys favor superheroes or ghouls.
Some of us cut eye-holes into sheets and went out as ghosts. Does that mean we lacked imagination or just that we were lazy? Whatever or whomever our childhood disguises depicted, we had fun planning our Halloween characters.
As adolescents, going out in spooky disguises is frowned upon. I think this is a shame. Adolescence is an awkward phase of life. I wonder, if teens were encouraged to attend classes in Halloween disguises, that some of their insecurities or strengths would be revealed. Teachers and parents might gain some insight into the nature of the teens.
Some experts make the argument that teens wear masquerade costumes every day, anyway. Teens seem to self-identify as geeks, emo kids, outsiders, skaters, hipsters, mean girls, and preps. Each of these subcultures have acceptable mannerisms and ways to publicly display themselves. They might dye their hair pink with chartreuse streaks, or they enjoy showing off the latest designer sneakers. There is some personality trait finding outward expression. Each generation has variations of these subcultures. Most of us have self-identified as a member of a particular high school group. This was reflected in our sense of style or lack thereof.
Adults have our disguises, too. We differentiate ourselves by our garb and hairstyles. Bankers and corporate executives tend to dress in acceptable, conservative styles. Office workers tend to wear “business casual” clothing. Service workers are assigned uniforms as are police and military personnel. Laborers tend to gravitate towards rugged work attire.
“I can’t disguise myself with a wig and dark glasses–the wheelchair gives me away.”–Stephen Hawking
We have other ways to masquerade or display how we want to present ourselves to society. The brand, style, and color of motor vehicle we drive can be a big tip-off to our peers and others about our self-identity. We tend to live in houses or apartments in neighborhoods that reflect our personalities or who we aspire to become.
People are generally less immaculately frank and honest as we present ourselves to be. It seems to be encoded in our DNA to keep the cap on our secret desires and impulses. Our clothing, grooming, modes of transportation, and housing, act as forms of disguise.
To a certain extent, the masquerades are forms of personal protection. In some instances they subtly reveal who we are even though the disguises are used with the intent to obscure. The common maxim, “You cannot judge a book by its cover” might be less true than we have been led to believe. Pay attention to children who dress up as characters for Halloween. You will learn a great deal about the kids. The same can be said about adult masquerade party-goers (pre-Covid). What are the grownups trying to express with their Mardis Gras or Halloween costumes?
I hope you allow yourself to create a disguise and have a little bit of fun for Halloween–even if just for yourself.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes 17th century polymath and theologian, Blaise Pascal. “We are only falsehood, duplicity, contradiction; we both conceal and disguise ourselves from ourselves.”