In the grand scheme of life, choosing a costume is pretty inconsequential. And yet, we can’t deny it’s important, it’s tradition, and most of all, it’s really really fun. We do it every year without fail. We agonize over the right wig, the scariest mask and making sure our significant other gets their “Sonny” the perfect compliment to our “Cher”. We smile brightly and silently crumble as our kids change their minds about their costume for umpteenth time. We brave shopping malls, last minute meltdowns, and inclement weather all in the spirit of one night celebrating us being whatever we want to be. It matters.
And it may be more meaningful than we even realize- there is something to the power of what we wear. Think about it-how does getting dressed up make you feel? If it makes you feel different, you are not alone. A study conducted by Northwestern University scholars (see article here) found that when participants wore a white lab coat, as a doctor would, they did better on attention tasks than participants not wearing these coats. Their conclusions? That we not only look different to others but we actually feel different when we wear clothes with symbolic meaning. Just wearing that white coat made people act more attentively. Just one piece of clothing.
So… back to Halloween. I can’t help but wondering- if clothes can change how we behave, costumes must be similar. What if on Halloween we chose a costume that helped us be more of what we wanted to be? A teacher to feel smarter, a firefighter to feel braver, a doctor to be more attentive. If it worked for one night, it could keep working. We can always keep trying to be more of who we want to be. And what better time to begin than the best night of fall?