The Psychology Behind Halloween Costumes: What Our Choices Say About Us

Halloweenpsych(PCM) Halloween is here. That means all the super heroes and sexy nurses will abruptly show themselves for a single night. Suddenly it becomes permissible for you to scare your friends. Also, it is probably the only day when you would seek out strangers and ask them to give you candy.

But what about Halloween is so exciting? Is it the thought of candy? Couldn’t possibly, candy is available all year round for our consumption. Could it be the decorations? No, we decorate for nearly every holiday in America. What about the costumes? Ah, I think we are on to something here.

In 2009 Halloween costume sales surpassed six billion dollars and 62% of the sales were adult oriented costumes, showing the holiday is no child’s play. Some of us spend hours contemplating the perfect outfit, discussing it with our friends, purchasing makeup and creating realistic props. For many, Halloween becomes one of the largest productions of the year. The question is: Why do we bother ourselves with the daunting task of dressing up?

The most obvious and simple reason is fun. Dressing as an exaggerated version of your ninth grade math teacher can provide endless entertainment for your classmates. Covering yourself in synthetic blood will most likely cause your mother to squirm. The concept of being someone else to get a reaction from others is enjoyable.

Another motive for dressing up on Halloween is to step into one of your idol’s shoes, literally. According to a National Retail Federation report in 2010 the top two most popular child costumes were “the princess” and “Spider Man.” What young girl doesn’t want to wear an extravagant pink gown and rule the kingdom? What boy doesn’t want to sport a body suit with chiseled muscles and save the world? Stepping into the role of an idol, becoming them, we are able to act differently. This concept of performing a role other than the one you play everyday can be appealing.

This is the true motivation to buy/create Halloween costumes; but the question is why? Well, every human develops what is called an “ego” and a “shadow.” Our ego is built of every aspect of ourselves that we are aware of and are proud to share with others; things like being a good student or a caring person. Our shadow is comprised of parts of us that have been rejected as negative as we grow up. Qualities such as being violent or overtly sexual are in many of our shadows. The story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a great example of this. By day Dr. Jekyll is a fine doctor; however, by night he unconsciously becomes Mr. Hyde and maliciously terrorizes London. Dr. Jekyll is indeed a respectable man, however, that is not all he is. He has a dark side, Mr. Hyde, who after being suppressed needs to escape.

With these concepts in mind, let’s examine the idea of Halloween costumes again. Imagine a boy named Jeremy. Jeremy has two sisters and often gets punished by his parents for being rough with them. The negative reaction he receives from his parents forces Jeremy to push his aggression into his shadow, to hide it from everyone. When Halloween rolls around Jeremy wishes to dress as a serial killer. He is able to scream, be rough and thus allow his aggression to come out. Jeremy is using his costume as a means of exercising his shadow, for it is permissible to act violent and aggressive while playing the role of the serial killer on Halloween. Wearing this costume is a healthy means for Jeremy to release some of the pressure his shadow has put on him.

I am not saying that Jeremy has a potential to become literal killer, however, playing the role for a few hours is beneficial for his psychological health. This same reason is why teenage girls dress as the scantily clad maid or sexy devil. They are playing the role of seductress and allowing sexuality they have been forced to repress to run free. We are unable to deny our shadow, for it is a part of us. If our shadow is ignored completely it will explode, like as Dr. Jekyll’s did. Halloween provides a context in which many of our shadow behaviors are acceptable.

So this Halloween allow yourself to have fun and step into a new role. If you need some help deciding, consider looking at your walls. Do you have a poster of someone you do not know but idolize? Consider the reasons why you like them. What qualities do they possess that you feel you lack? Take these questions into consideration when deciding what to be this season, for your costume choice may say more about you than you think.

The post The Psychology Behind Halloween Costumes: What Our Choices Say About Us also appeared on PCM Lifestyle.

This Halloween Say No to Zombies, Yes to Zombie Killer!

Zombies. They’re soooo in right now. It’s a brave new corpsed-up world.  How zombified have things gotten, really? Google “zombie” paired with pretty much any other word, from A to, well, Zed, and you’ll get a legion of legitimate hits. “Zombie apple?” Ripe for the pickin’! “Zombie zeitgeist?” Well, duh! Just be prepared to unearth a little zombie kinkiness/nastiness as well. Because one Haitian voodoo daddy’s zombie cucumber is another person’s, um.

So what’s a thoughtful tricked-out treatster to do this Halloween to stand out from the inevitable ratty horde of would-be rotting meatbags? Simple: Go the opposite of zombie! Get your dress-up on as the world’s most kick-ass zombie killer instead.

Rule Halloween night like a redneck king! Strut the zombie-choked streets as Tallahassee, the Twinkie-obsessed undead-dispatcher from the 2009 Hollywood smash hit Zombieland. See RDB’s simple costuming tips below!


rule #1: badass hat. The essential bit. For true Tallahassee attitude, only the right hatitude will cut it: Duding up in country-singer cowboy headwear is gonna miss the mark, podnah. The real thing, in this case, is the Real Deal Brazil (, our genuine handmade-in-Brazil recycled-truck-tarp hat, chosen by Columbia Pictures’ costume department to give Tallahassee his crazy-ass sense of comic s***kicker cool. And once Halloween has melted back into the shadows, we’re confident your RDB hat will still be making mucho guest appearances atop your own crazy-ass cabeza.

rule #2: shades ’n’ scruff. Try the sunglasses-tree at just about any dollar store for suitable NASCAR-country-boy eyewear. And if you can’t muster up some fast whisker growth for a sloppy goatee, then dot your cheeks and chin with an eyeliner pencil for a quick patch of 5 o’clock hair-face.

rule #3: he-man neckwear. Wood beads, heavy chains, metal or fake-bone pendants. Kind of a Cracker Jacks-prize approach to men’s jewelry, really. Here again, any available dollar store should get you there.

rule #4: v-neck shirt. There’s something about a lowcut T-shirt that just says you’re badass. (Unless, of course, you’re a real lardass, and wearing sweatpants. Then it kinda says 3 a.m. Wal-Mart shopper instead.) Maroon is Tallahassee’s color, but any dark V-neck T should do the trick.

rule #5: leathers. You could probably pull off a jean jacket in a pinch, but Tallahassee is all about classic heavy leather, when he’s not seriously rednecking it up in snakeskin. Just not leather with too much sheen to it, and more motorcycle-style than bomber.

rule #6: the belt. Something with a big ol’ metal buckle.

rule #7: weapon holder, or (fake) weapon. The average leather gun holster is too small, but a leather sheaf for a long fish-filleting knife would do it, strapped to your belt, and then tied at the bottom around your left thigh with yet another belt. In the absence of that, just get yourself a toy rifle, or a toy AK-47, if such a thing is available at, y’know, Toy Guns ’R Us. The key word here is “toy.” Halloween surprise + packing real heat = bang, bang, someone’s bad-dead, not just funny-undead.

rule #8: classic denim. No designer “holes,” acid-washed streaks or black thread; the simple workin’ man’s denim-jeans standard, Levi’s, is best. To achieve that I’ve-just-endured-the-apocalypse feel, rub charcoal on your hands and then smear them on your thighs. You dirty little zombie-killer, you!

rule #9: boots. Cowboy, not biker. Suede or natural says serious boot-wearer, but snakeskin lends kick-ass redneck cred in a red-hot second.

other fun props. Jack Daniels bottle, Hostess Twinkies, banjo, long-handled pruning shears.*

* Note of caution: Hard liquor, mystery-cream-filled snack-cakes, poorly played bluegrass music and sharp garden implements can cause serious harm to the still-living.

The post This Halloween Say No to Zombies, Yes to Zombie Killer! also appeared on PCM Lifestyle.

Halloween Costumes for Procrastinators

For procrastinators, Halloween sneaks up behind us like Norman Bates in Psycho, but have no fear! We have 5 quick and easy, last-minute costume ideas for those of you who forgot that Halloween is coming up this Monday.

1. A Domino

What you need: A black shirt and pants or a black dress, white felt, scissors, a hot glue gun, or tape.

How to make it: Cut out as many circles of white felt as you would like and arrange them on your black outfit in the design of a domino. Cut out a white strip that will serve as the line dividing the domino or even better find a white belt to wear. Tape or glue the felt onto your outfit and you’re all set!

2. A Twister Board

What you need: A white shirt and pants or a white dress, red, green, yellow, and blue felt, scissors, and glue or tape.

How to make it: Cut out circles of colored felt and tape or hot glue them to your white outfit in the shape of a Twister board. If you have the time to run to the halloween store, pick up a hat with a spinner on top to finish off the costume.

3. Risky Business

What you need: An oversized button-up shirt, boxer shorts, high white socks, and sunglasses.

How to make it: Throw on the outfit then slide across hardwood floors and dance around like Tom Cruise.

4. A Smurf

What you need: White shorts/pants, a blue t-shirt, a white hat, blue tights, blue long-sleeved shirt or blue body paint.

How to make it: Put on your blue tights on underneath your white pants and put on your blue shirt. For dedciated trick-o-treaters, forget the shirt and paint your body and face blue.

5. Grapes

What you need: Green or purple balloons, a green hat, and tape.

How to make it: Blow up several balloons and tape a bunch onto your outfit. Plop on your green hat as the leaves but be careful if you decide to sit down, your costume might pop!

The post Halloween Costumes for Procrastinators also appeared on PCM Lifestyle.

Walmart In Hot Water For Selling “Fat Girl Costumes”


(PCM) Walmart has stirred up some controversy after several customers noticed that there was a link on the company’s website that was labeled “Fat Girl Costumes” rather than the typical (and socially acceptable “Plus-Sized Costumes”) aimed at online shoppers looking to purchase Halloween costumes.

The incident was first reported by, when are reader sent in an outraged comment about the harsh labeling. The first Twitter comment directed at the company criticizing the labeling was published back on 10/21 and received what appeared to be some sort of automated reply in response.

As more and more individuals began to chime in and complain to the company, it has become a huge public relations nightmare for Walmart overall. The hash tag #FatGirlCostumes was even trending for awhile on Twitter as the complaints continued to roll in!

It is thought that a computer programmer who was putting together the site added the “Fat Girl Costumes” label as an internal joke and failed to remove it before publishing online. After several days of the offensive label being up on their site, it appears that Walmart has finally come to their sense and the label has now been removed. The link now directs shoppers to the “Women’s Plus Size Adult” page.

A Walmart spokesperson had the following comments about the incident “This never should have been on our site. It is unacceptable, and we apologize. We are working to remove it as soon as possible and ensure this never happens again.”

The post Walmart In Hot Water For Selling “Fat Girl Costumes” also appeared on PCM Lifestyle.

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