ActivitiesAges 10-12 (Tween)Ages 13-17 (Teen)

I’d Rather be a [Halloween Costume].

October is/was Bullying Awareness Month. This is something I assume that most of our readers know, but interestingly, it’s not something I felt was overly emphasized in my son’s school. There were some words said in some parent emails, including a list of “anti-bullying spirit week” concepts, but nothing overwrought going on in the classroom. Which I think I’m kind of okay with, but maybe I’m just saying that because middle school seems to be going well so far.

Something interesting that my son pointed out was the total absurdity of the “I’d rather be a [blank] than a bully” campaign that is supposed to conveniently coincide with Halloween each year. I thought this was a thing, as I know I’ve seen it in a few places, but my google-fu seems to be broken, since I can find virtually nothing about it online, at least for the terms I searched. Which strikes me as really weird. But I digress. The concept is cute and it works fine when we’re talking about Elsa or an owl or even a shark attack victim. It’s a little weird when you have middle schoolers supposedly supporting bullying awareness by dressing up as assassins or mobsters or sexy anything. (Which- or is that witch? – please, we can do without the sexy anything for the pre-teen set.) “I’d rather kill people than be a bully” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Picture of a child in a colorful wing cape.
Wouldn’t want those wings to get stuck on anything.

Happily for me, my children are the aforementioned owl (rainbow, natch) and shark victim this year, both of which are arguably better than being a bully. They also avoid any unfortunate, or just flat-out offensive, inappropriateness. There is nothing sexy or appropriative or otherwise troubling over here, unless we’re worried about that owl-wing-rainbow cape getting stuck on anything. Mostly, I was pretty happy this year that neither was pushing to be a character, the great irony of which will be revealed below. We have the dresses to do Elsa or Anna, but Mo was more interested in pursuing her deep and abiding love of owls. She really got into picking out every piece of her costume, from the cloth that made her wings to the sparkly red party hat beak.

The tween was a little more meh, but ultimately had fun with a shark hat, a long sleeve swim shirt and some red face paint. He says he’ll blame me if the assembled ninjas and video game warriors disapprove. Since he’s trick or treating out of our neighborhood with a friend from school, I guess I’ll find out later.

In the meantime, I will probably skip the Frozen drinking game since I’d like to, you know, remember the night to some degree, and hope we don’t run into too many people violating my easy rules for costuming:

1. If you are white, don’t paint your face to look like another race. Ever.

2. Want to dress up like Lebron James or Korra or another famous person or character? Get down with your bad self WITHOUT FACEPAINT.

3. Want to be an anonymous “Indian princess” or street thug, get yourself another idea that doesn’t make a stereotype of an entire culture you are not a part of.

4. Want to wear the non-western jewelry or clothing that you purchased while traveling outside the United States? That’s fine if you’re wearing it as clothing (IMO, some people will draw a different line as to what constitutes appropriation). It’s not fine if you’re wearing it as a costume or wearing, say, a depiction of someone’s God or Goddess or other sacred articles as a fashion statement.

Personally, I can’t wait to get home and put on my Maleficent costume (this would be that irony of my kids avoiding characters this year – somehow Disney still gets their claws in) and take my rainbow owl trick or treating. Maleficent being another costume that doesn’t really fit that whole bullying meme.

So, what are you and your kids going to be this year?

Featured image courtesy of Flickr user Chiot’s Run, used under CC license. Rainbow owl image by author, all rights reserved. 

Emily Sexton

Writer of incomplete novels, entertainment lawyer, mom of two with a wide age spread, blogger here and elsewhere, wannabe vocalist and v/o actress, atheist, weirdo. That last bit went without saying. Find Em on twitter @emandink and maybe she'll use it more.

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  1. I tried for two Elmos but ended up with one Elmo and one kid in jack-o-lantern long underwear and a red hat (and sometimes shoes). But no one seemed to care about the non-costumed kid. I think I saw fewer stereotypes this year, btw. Maybe that was because we were out with the kids rather than at the bar or parties, but I’m not sure. The rainbow owl is a great idea, btw. Did she explain why the rainbow part of the owl costume?

    1. Sometimes a kid in jack-o-lantern long underwear is a win. At least it was festive! I was stunned by the few number of Elsa’s I saw. If I’d actually be playing the drinking game, I’d still be on my first pumpkin ale.

      Mo’s costume explaination varied. Sometimes she would say “I’m a *rainbow* owl.” Other times she would just be an owl. A couple of times she insisted on her name. A couple of times she insisted on being called “Owl Lantern”. She would also say thank you for every piece of candy she counted. Which usually resulted in them giving her more.

    That was us. My wife came up with the costume idea for the baby, and then me as Christmas Present was pretty obvious.
    It was fun going around with the baby, meeting people. We even met a baby with a very similar name who is only a month younger!

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