What Are You Supposed To Be?

By Jenny Darmody

It’s that time of year again. The evenings are getting shorter, the days are getting colder, rain is more frequent and almost all the brown leaves have fallen off the trees. The summer is now a distant memory and yet Christmas is too far away to think about. But in the midst of all the darkness and depression at this time of year, there is a magical night on October 31st when eerie darkness is not feared but embraced: Halloween.

Every year, millions of people both young and old celebrate Halloween with costume parties and trick or treating. Traditionally, dressing up was mainly for the trick or treating children and the majority of the costumes were straightforward and scary. But the image of Halloween and the costumes worn have become slightly distorted over the years and it seems the students of DCU are no exception to this.

For woman in particular, there has been a dramatic transformation in what costumes are expected. As a child, I went from door to door as either a witch (plastic mask and bin bag cape intact) or an innocent fairy (an angel costume up until I misplaced my halo). Now, walking through the shops in search of a costume, you might struggle to find anything without the words ‘sexy’, ‘naughty’ or ‘slutty’ printed across the picture of a model who appears to have misplaced part of her costume as well-the bottom half! From naughty nurses to slutty schoolgirls, adult costumes for women seem to be men’s fantasies in 3-D form, composed of short skirts, low cut tops, bare legs and plastic leather ensembles all put together. Is this just a development we have to accept?

“I’m personally not into that because it’s just not my thing,” says Kate McConville, a Physics with Bio-medical Sciences student in DCU. “I am dressing up as Janet from the Rocky Horror Picture Show this year but I just think it’s a bit disgraceful, it’s kind of just an excuse. I think [women are] disrespecting themselves.” However, Amy O’Sullivan from Economics, Politics and Law thinks when it’s just for Halloween it’s not a big deal. “I’m all for it like, why not? It’s one night in the whole year,” she says.

Interestingly, on the other side of things, men’s costumes are generally super heroes with six-packs or an uber-macho army soldier or marine, which can be seen as women‘s secret fantasies. Perhaps men are just more openly admitted to buying into their own fancies.

The other common costume trend we see nowadays is the lack of a costume, usually out of sheer laziness. There are also the few who find ways to claim that they’re in costume in innovative, albeit slightly lazy ways. If you‘re happy to admit to being one, keep these tips in mind for the future:


  • Wear a mask you bought from the clearance bin for €1.
  • Borrow a pair of wings and strap them on.
  • Wear clothes someone else always wears and go as them.


This comes in particularly handy when you bought a fabulous new red dress. Just find some horns and go as a devil. Or team up your brand new black leather jacket with a white t-shirt and gelled hair, now you’re a T-Bird from Grease. The leather jacket with a cowboy hat will also work as a costume.

Against the laziness of certain partygoers, some go beyond what is necessary. They think outside the box, go the extra mile, and create something spectacular. If there is ever a ‘most creative costume’ competition, some of these definitely raise the bar. Some of the more innovative costumes include a YouTube video or Facebook page, white trash and, more recently, swine flu. Swine flu can vary, some may dress up as a pig and attach wings (swine flew, get it?) but the most common is a pig nose with medical accessories, a thermometer, a surgical mask around your neck, surgical gloves, a cold compress, things like that.

Students have seen other unique and equally creative costumes. “It was like ‘the shit has hit the fan’ and they were wearing a big fan and had these brown things flying off it,” says one student, who swears it wasn’t her costume. Another DCU student from Applied Physics says, “the weirdest costume I’ve ever seen was somebody dressed up as a crayon…it was like an actual Crayola crayon.” She also said her weirdest costume was Pippy Long-Stockings “I had pipe in my hair and weird leggings…it was awful!”

There are also other costumes that you can make yourself. These may not win all the originality awards but they’re great for those who can’t afford to buy a costume, (they are quite expensive these days) and they don’t even require an artistic talent, just a few household items and a bit of patience.

  • A Bunch Of Grapes

You may not want to use this one around sharp objects or party animals, who find it oh-so-amusing to chase you with a safety pin, but simply attach many purple or green balloons to yourself, particularly around the top and wear a green hat. Sorted.

  • Dice

All you need is a cardboard box and paint. Wear white clothes if you can, cut head and arm holes out of the box, take off the bottom, paint it white, then paint the black dots on and get in (Warning: Mobility may be hindered.)

  • Umbrella Bat

My favourite handmade costume: take the main stick off a cheap, old, black umbrella, cut it right down the centre (watch the metal poles!), quickly stitch or pin each half to the sleeve and side of a black top. Make ears out of paper attached to a headband, and there you go, an instant bat.

Whatever costume you decide to wear in the many Halloweens to come, I urge you to try your absolute best to avoid these common costumes that you will see twice at a party: An angel/fairy, superman/batman/any superhero, a sailor, a doctor, a cat, or little red riding hood. Halloween needs to be kept fresh and innovative so don’t fall into the common costume trap. Happy Halloween!

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