Graphic by Shivali Kanthan ’24

Deciding between a costume to fit the vibe is always a struggle. Wanting to fit and not be judged but, still try to feel confident and stay true to yourself. Halloween highlights the psychological need to fit in and the stress that comes with it.

The stress of Halloween costumes

With Halloween coming up in only a few weeks, picking the right costume is on everyone’s mind. Finding a costume you can feel comfortable and confident in, but also fits with everyone else’s costume is stressful. You want your costume to fit with the vibe everyone else is going for. 

The whole night is meant to be a fun night to dress up as someone else for a night. Halloween is the time to find an alter ego, dress up as your favorite character and live as someone else for a day.

If people are wearing cute dresses, corsets and skirts and I show up in a onesie, that would probably ruin my night. 

But even though I also succumb to the pressures of landing the perfect costume, when I stop to think about it, I’m not sure why Halloween costumes are such a big deal. 

“Group pressure may take different forms, for example bullying, persuasion, teasing, criticism, etc.  Conformity is also known as majority influence (or group pressure).” Dr. Saul Mcleod from Simply Psychology said. 

In situations where we are unsure of the correct response, we often look to others who are more knowledgeable and use their lead as a guide for our own behaviors

— Ruth Newton

Worrying about the teasing or criticisms you might receive based on your costume can plague the whole night.

I mean, it’s one night, once a year. Everyone is worried about what they are wearing, not what I’m wearing yet, I still worry about it. 

Social animals learn to meet their needs by watching others. Seeking what others have is the core survival strategy of the animal brain.” Loretta G. Breuning from Psychology Today said. 

So, maybe it has to do with the desire to fit in. As a high school student I just want to fit in. I want to blend in and just have fun with my friends. I do not want people talking about what I was wearing in a negative way.

Carolina Krug ’25 expressed how she feels that what you wear on Halloween can make you feel more confident. If you’re not wearing something that matches with the vibe of everyone else’s costume you might feel left out. 

For the past few weeks my friends and I have been going back and forth about what we want to wear. Do we want to wear something funny or cute? Getting everyone to agree on a costume has also been a huge hassle. 

The goal is to have fun but it is tainted by the need to fit in and be like everyone else. Yet, at the end of the day Halloween is still fun and can be a great night but, I do feel relieved when the lead up to Halloween is over.

“In situations where we are unsure of the correct response, we often look to others who are more knowledgeable and use their lead as a guide for our own behaviors,” Ruth Newton from Learning Mind said.

So, ultimately, it is a psychological thing. The pressure we feel is about wanting to fit in, and following the lead of others around us. We can blame our costume fears and paranoia on the way we are wired.

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