Friday 9 December 2016

'Halloween is just for attention seekers who crave compliments and approval as though it's a lifeblood'

Tanya Sweeney

Published 27/10/2016 | 08:35

Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad
Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad
Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad
Poppy Delevingne did an incredible Harley Quinn impression
Heidi Klum attends Heidi Klum's 16th Annual Halloween Party sponsored by GSN's Hellevator And SVEDKA Vodka At LAVO New York on October 31, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Heidi Klum)
Jemima Khan as Melania Trump
Tanya Sweeney

What's your favourite public holiday?

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 Mine is probably Easter. Because, chocolate. And, when I was a child, it signified the full stop after 40 days of a life without crisps and coke. We'd count the money from the Trocaire box - about £1.50 - and feel like Mother Teresa, all the angels and saints combined.

But the best thing about Easter is how it sneaks up in the calendar. No such luck with Christmas, which now seems to start the weekend after Electric Picnic. Worse again, though, is the creeping realisation that Halloween is following suit. It's becoming 'A Thing'.

For the next week, expect a ceaseless parade of selfies - not just from the usual suspects, but those who ordinarily know better. And if you're not a fan of the self-serving ways of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, this is a particularly trying time of the year.

Tanya Sweeney
Tanya Sweeney

A full fortnight before Halloween, the otherwise sane start to prowl the streets wearing fancy dress costumes. I can think of only one reason as to the exploding popularity of Halloween parties: it's because no one wants to sit in and answer the door to a gaggle of saucer-eyed nippers wanting to clean your cupboards out.

I'm only half-joking. We all know that dressing up for Halloween is no more than self-serving preening.

In terms of dressing up, the degree of effort runs the full spectrum from the half-arsed who popped a Spiderman mask on, to the pathologically ornate. I'm not sure which one irritates me the most.

In the past, I played along. One year, I dressed up as the host (popped a tweed jacket and glasses on. Easy). Another time, I admit to a moment of self-serving weakness; I dressed up as Mad Men's Joan Holloway. It wasn't too far a cry from my usual look. This time, however, I got to wear figure-hugging clothes and a beehive. See? I was once as bad and as vain as they come. I know what I'm talking about. Learn from my mistakes.

Poppy Delevingne did an incredible Harley Quinn impression
Poppy Delevingne did an incredible Harley Quinn impression

The fancy dress party is a noxious brew, a mix of one-upmanship and forced jollity. It's for attention seekers who crave compliments and approval as though it's a lifeblood. It's the perfect party for show-offs, for those who want to dress like a sexy minx but haven't got the cojones to do it in 'real life'.

While most blokes are after the cheap laugh when they dress up, the Halloween costume is almost always an exercise in vanity for its female fans. It's supposed to be a night of silliness and craic, but the sexiness has somehow been shoehorned in, too. And, once the initial five minutes of squawking and cackling die down at a fancy dress party, what you're left with are a group of people awkwardly standing around wearing bed sheets or flammable wigs.

The sexiness factor is precisely why Harley Quinn from Suicide Squad - sexy, grotty, punky, hotpantsy - is this year's most overwhelmingly popular costume choice.

Coming in at a close second is the Mexican 'Day of The Dead' costume. Forget cultural misappropriation; let's sidestep the fact that Day Of The Dead is a serious holiday created to mourn the deceased. It's very hard not to look hot with a rose-crown and interesting face paint on.

Heidi Klum attends Heidi Klum's 16th Annual Halloween Party sponsored by GSN's Hellevator And SVEDKA Vodka At LAVO New York on October 31, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Heidi Klum)
Heidi Klum attends Heidi Klum's 16th Annual Halloween Party sponsored by GSN's Hellevator And SVEDKA Vodka At LAVO New York on October 31, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Heidi Klum)

In case you're considering either, know this: you are not alternative or subversive or cool in either of these costumes. You are teetering perilously close to basic-bitch territory.

Ordinarily, I love those who take a walk on the wild side. I doff my cap to those who have the courage of their convictions to go full Goth, punk or nerd year-round. I'm less enamoured of those trying it just because the calendar tells them to. I'm even less so of those doing it to curate their 'I'm fun, me' persona on social media. And even less so of anyone who gets a bit competitive about it all.

Of course, if you opt out, or even opt barely in (once, I took inspiration from a Facebook post and carried a hairdryer and toaster and said I was the Argos catalogue), you're made to feel like you're chief constable of the Craic Police.

This weekend's news feeds are likely to be packed with celebrities going the extra mile at Halloween parties. Heidi Klum immediately springs to mind, for she has turned fancy dress into a massive 'look at me' project. It's all in the name of fun, she'll likely attest. The acres of press attention are probably just a bonus.

But in some ways, we're no different. Dressing up is fun and all, but if no one sees you dress up like Donald Trump's colon or acknowledges same on Facebook, did it really happen at all?

There is only one upside of dressing up for Halloween that I can think of; the greasing of conversational wheels. If you're dressed like Wonder Woman for instance, you can't not sidle up to Superman and ask for tips on saving the planet. If you do hit it off, a photo from that night will serve as a rather nice footnote at your wedding. But that, alas, is the best-case scenario.

There are other eventualities, and wearing a polyester wig and drawn-on face zip will not serve you well in them. Three simple words: Walk. Of. Shame.

Jemima Khan as Melania Trump
Jemima Khan as Melania Trump

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