My favorite holiday has always been Halloween. When picking out or making pieces for a costume, getting dolled up in said costume, and transforming into someone entirely new, my confidence, self-love, and tenacity soar. The last few Halloweens have been a blast; I’ve killed with my renditions of Poison Ivy, Eleven, Zelda, and Margot Tenenbaum. Last year, a man I dated revealed the wonderful experiences Los Angeles’ spooky season has to offer. I am so grateful for him showing me Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor, haunted mazes (being from the midwest, I never knew those were a thing!), and watching The Nightmare Before Christmas at the Hollywood Bowl. These experiences sparked something wonderful inside me and gave me confidence regarding my favorite holiday during the upcoming years in the great city of Los Angeles to come.
When I was in sixth grade, Catwoman starring Halle Berry came out. After watching her inspiring performance in a not-so-amazing movie, I found pleasure in pretending to be the badass antihero. I accumulated and hid a black leather skirt, a vest, and a toy whip under my mattress all summer. I spent those summer days secretly dressed as Catwoman, prepping for Halloween in the fall. It was the first time I showed self expression by going out of my way to find clothing and items to craft into a costume; it was the first time I felt so confident in something I created. When my mom found the leather and whip, she became furious. I think that Halloween I ended up in my room crying because she told me sixth graders were too old to go out and trick or treat. My spirit shrank.
In high school, no one dressed up for the holiday. It wasn’t cool unless you were at a party. Even then, there were unspoken rules. When I was sixteen, I showed up to one of these parties wearing footie pajamas and a giant, decorated cardboard box. I was a “Jackie in the Box.” I felt clever, funny, unique, completely in my element, and totally myself. To this day, I’m still proud of that creation. When I arrived, my fellow peers gave me indescribable looks. That was the second time I felt insecure about attire I worked extremely hard on. Initially being incredibly confident and happy with my choice, it came as a shock when comments were made. I looked unlike others and truly felt like an outsider. That evening I realized the only costumes high school girls were supposed to wear were sexy _______ (insert animals, superheroes, witches, nurses, etc.).
During the last seven months, there were several times I felt my confidence drop like it did those previous Halloween nights. At times, we all try on costumes we are never meant to wear. When you put something on that doesn’t quite fit, it’s hard to feel confident wearing it, even if you love the idea of it or thought it looked great when you first tried it on.
The secret girlfriend did not, nor will it ever, fit me. The longer I wore this outfit, the more it came as a shock when friends, coworkers, family, and castmates verbalized their worries. Then I started looking and feeling unlike myself: I lost over twenty pounds, I obtained an ulcer, and I started to dissociate constantly. I lost myself so much that, at one point, I became suicidal. My confidence was gone; I was gone. I bent over backwards and completely busted my ass, causing me to unintentionally hurt myself, all to try to get the costume to fit a little better. No matter what I did, nothing worked. I didn’t know how to be confident in any aspect of my life while hiding something I was proud of and wanted to share with the world. I thought the secret girlfriend was the most well-fit, amazing costume of mine to date. Now that I’ve taken it off, it’s easy to see how wrong I was. And although the metaphorical outfit didn’t work for me, it left a very literal and permanent scar on the left side of my chest as I was pulling it off. Some [wardrobe] choices stay with you forever, even if you want to forget them.
It seems obvious both my ranging Halloween experiences and the last seven months consisted of a large array of emotions: happy, torn down, ecstatic, anxious, proud, unsure, passionate, sad, confident, frustrated, the life of the party, insignificant, excited, depressed, inspired, terrified, in love, obsessive, goofy, furious, euphoric, insecure, etc. During the midst of that recently difficult time, HBO’s Euphoria made a big impression in my life. One scene that stuck out to me had a high school Halloween party where a female side character shows up dressed as Bob Ross. Despite her absolutely nailing the costume, the show highlighted all the looks and comments her peers made. Even through their scrutiny, her confidence exuded. As a 26-year-old woman at one of the lowest points in her life, I realized I wanted my confidence back after watching Maude Apatow play a brave teenager draped in a Bob Ross getup. I wanted the confidence of a 16-year-old who just wants to live life uninfluenced by people’s expectations.
Now I want that more than ever. I’m struggling to love the Halloween season this year; although that costume I wore for months didn’t fit, I grew to love it. Despite all the lows, I was supposed to celebrate Halloween with someone I loved; we were going to go to haunted houses together. I wanted to share with this person all I was shown the year prior, disclose how much fun a Los Angeles Halloween could be. I no longer have that plan. Instead, I’ve decided to gain back the confidence that both my 16-year-old self and Maude Apatow’s character portrayed. I am terrifying myself with haunted houses and mazes, taking myself to the Hollywood Bowl, going to a pumpkin patch with my girlfriends, and dressing however damn well I please.
Continuing to positively move forward through the season, I started hand-picking my favorite emotions from the jumble I felt during my previous Halloweens and the last seven months, piecing together my favorite costume to date: the confident bitch. My loved ones and I all happily agree: it fits perfectly.
As for my Halloween attire? I’m going to be Bob Ross.