Ever since I dressed up as Baby Bop in the early 90s, I've been hooked on trick-or-treat season. Each year I rummage through my closet, mixing pre-owned apparel and store bought accessories to create a rather obvious but simple costume for the night.
Last year was no different.
I whipped up a very uninspired black cat costume just hours before a party. Equipped with cat ears, a black bodysuit and furry tail, I was determined to channel Michelle Pfeiffer's feisty Catwoman.
Thanks to several YouTube tutorials, my smokey eye and painted-on whiskers were perfect and my thighs were glistening on display.
I looked great, if I do say so myself.
Still, just before I waltzed outside into the chilly air, I felt a very intense, self-imposed shame.
For one night, women in America muster the chutzpah to live out their wildest fantasies in fashionable form, no matter how ironic or sexy.
But every year, my anxiety skyrockets knowing my slightly provocative getup will be met with side-eyes from certain women and relentless (ridiculous!) shaming from men.
It's a gender bias we've been inundated with since birth.
For example, Amber Rose's recent Slutwalk in Los Angeles aimed to fight against rape culture and strip society of its warped comfortability with basically treating women like sh*t for how they dress.
Rose's directive came across loud and clear: Women should be able to wear whatever the hell they want, without fear of repercussions, judgment or harm.
However, men (and even some women) may never understand the damage of constant slut-shaming, especially on a night solely about wildness and fun.
In today's society, pouring yourself into a short, skin-tight something or other can backfire. Halloween has a tendency to intoxicate the senses with cheap drinks, making tongues much sharper than usual.
With this in mind, after posing in my cat costume for the 'Gram, not only did I brace myself for backhanded compliments, but I also slipped on black Levi jeans to curb any insults sure to be aimed my way.
My thought process was so self-harming it's almost laughable now. Why wasn't I secure enough to wear something so revealing? Why did I feel the need to over-explain my costume? Why was I terrified people would call me a slut?
Trust me, I'm not extremely modest. But to this day, believe it or not, I still think about deleting that picture.
We all know the "Mean Girls" quote by now: "Halloween is the one night a year when a girl can dress up as a total slut and no other girl can say anything about it."
Well, forget it. Halloween is supposed to be a festive, free-spirited time. Fellow party-hoppers (namely men) can say something, and they will.
While men have every right to flex the first amendment privilege, you don't have to internalize their objectification of you.
Take it upon yourself to not GAF about misogynistic comments and proudly wear that Sexy Pizza Rat costume. Slam the notion that women who dress sexy are also loose.
Come on. What does "slut" really mean anyway? Though we could conjure up some visual aid for the term, it's extremely vast. In some countries, wearing a skirt above the ankle makes a woman a harlot.
Though I may never walk around with a sign that says "Strippers Have Feelings Too," I will never again compromise what I truly want to wear to ensure I'm not considered a modern-day jezebel.
So this year, whether I'm tricking in a some bad b*tch-inspired attire or treating in a Pope Francis robe, I'm going to wear it with pride.
And you will respect me.