The student news site of Hamline University.

The Oracle

The student news site of Hamline University.

The Oracle

The student news site of Hamline University.

The Oracle

Conversations on costumes

Students share their opinions and predictions on costumes in anticipation of Halloween.
Maxwell Ridenour

As the season finally begins to turn and the first telltale chills of October are felt, students around campus begin to plan out their Halloween festivities. Many choose to celebrate by spending the holiday with close friends, where wearing a costume typically factors into their plans.

“Halloween’s the biggest day of the year for me,” senior Andi Haus said. “I start trying to figure out my costume half a year ahead.”

Others, while perhaps less enthusiastic towards the holiday, expressed similar sentiments about costumes.

“I wouldn’t say I’m exactly a Halloween fanatic, you know? However, [I] love the holiday. I love dressing up. I always dress up, [and] always go ham. I usually try to celebrate with friends,” sophomore Sidra Neitge said.

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While she is still in the process of narrowing down her final decision for a costume this year, Neigte seems to have one clear frontrunner in mind: Miss Piggy of the Muppets.

“I was really wanting to get a whole group of friends and all do sexy Muppets, because I think it would be really funny,” Neitge said.

Financial accessibility also plays a role in which costumes students may choose. Tuition costs already provide a source of financial stress for many, and when coupled with the rising price of basic needs such as food and housing, costumes may begin to seem more like a needless expense rather than a necessity.
“I’ve been trying to find one in my closet, because I don’t have the money to spend to get more costumes,” Neitge said.

Since it is becoming more expensive simply to stay afloat, and many people both inside and outside of Hamline are facing a shortage of accessible jobs with competitive wages, some are considering reusing a costume rather than buying a new one this year.

Junior Cameron Stockwell was one such student who described his plans to revisit an old costume.
“I have an inflatable dinosaur costume, and it was my Halloween costume two years ago, but I barely wore it, so I feel like I need to get more use out of it,”Stockwell said.

For Stockwell, the importance of wearing his costume extended beyond campus.
“I really want to go to Target and take pictures as the dinosaur, holding produce. I think it would be really funny for a dinosaur to be investigating an apple intently,” Stockwell said.

Trying to predict this year’s most popular costume at Hamline requires consideration of what is currently relevant to the cultural and age demographics of Hamline students. With a lot of impactful media having been released within the year, including blockbuster films, TV shows and games, there are many viable costume options to choose from. Interviewees gave their predictions for costume choices that might be extra popular this year.

“I feel like Barbie [will be popular],” Neitge said.

That prediction was echoed by Haus, who said there would be “probably lots of Barbie, because that was a smash blockbuster this year.”

The new Barbie movie made waves across social media this summer as fans flocked to theaters wearing themed outfits in shades of fluorescent pink. The movie seemed to speak to current generational feelings of nostalgia and used the focus of a widely-remembered childrens toy to comment on the realities of gender inequity. For many, “Barbie” provided a window into all the roles and aspirations they are capable of fulfilling regardless of their individual demographics, making Barbie and her counterpart Ken both viable costume candidates this year.

Others predicted costumes from different media formats.
“I could see a possible Last of Us thing, because that was pretty big.” Stockwell said. “The Last of Us” is a horror game that received a popular TV adaptation this year. Its creative take on zombies, alongside its memorable cast of characters, could translate well into Halloween costume material.

There are also always some ubiquitous choices that people seem to fall back on each year.

“I don’t know, all the really stupid man costumes that are just scary clowns,” Neitge said. I feel like those are always rampant. Playboy Bunny, Hugh Hefner, that’s always really popular. And cops and robbers, I feel like, is always really popular too.” Others expressed that well-established costumes might be easier to predict than costumes based on current cultural trends.

“I foresee some goblins and ghouls, but I’m always foreseeing goblins and ghouls,” Haus said. “Teletubbies? What’s hip right now?”

Conversations around cultural appropriation on Halloween also remain relevant, as the decision to wear a costume depicting a culture or identity group outside of the wearer’s own identity can have a harmful impact.

“I think obviously, stay within the lines of your own culture,” Haus said. “You have to be respectful,” Other students shared comparable sentiments regarding appropriation.

“Don’t culturally appropriate,” Stockwell said. “Just don’t do it. For some reason, that’s really hard for some people, but I find it to be pretty easy,” Halloween celebrations can quickly cease to be approachable and can become alienating and othering when forms of cultural expression get reduced to costumes.

“It doesn’t take that long to look up a concept and then like, ‘problematic’ or ‘concerns’ … just to do some basic research to make sure that it’s okay,” Neitge said. “It’s fun to celebrate, but I feel like it can also be so damaging to a lot of people at the same time when people don’t think properly about their costume choices.”
Doing baseline research about the history and origins of a costume can be a good way of screening for whether or not it has the potential to cause harm.

Even outside of cultural appropriation, stereotypical depictions of identities under the umbrella of gender and sexuality can also be hurtful.
“I am, as a trans person, tired of cis[gender] people dressing up as trans[gender] people for Halloween, because I’ve seen people do that,” Stockwell said. Keeping costumes respectful can be an important way of ensuring that everybody feels included during the Halloween season.

Despite efforts to predict this year’s most popular costume, there is always the element of random chance as well.
“That’s what I like about Halloween … you always see surprising things,” Haus said.

Whether Barbie and Ken emerge as this year’s costumes of choice, or whether an unexpected underdog takes the favor of Pipers instead, remains unclear. However, the value of costumes within students’ Halloween celebrations, as well as the heavy social significance that costumes can carry, is readily apparent.

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