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Behind A Monster Mask, My Daughter Made A Profound Statement About Halloween

Halloween for Australian parents is often associated with negativity around commercialism, Americanism, tackiness and inappropriateness.

But as my six-year-old daughter put on a Halloween mask of a hideous monster while at shops over the weekend, she said the most profound thing about Halloween and not only was it wise, it was 100 per cent correct.

While impersonating her best evil monster voice, she said: "Mum, I love Halloween, not just because it's my birthday but because you can be ugly and it's okay."

At first, I laughed because while it was true, it was also interesting that she picked up the most grotesque looking mask from the entire Halloween costume collection while saying it.

Shona's two daughters. Image: Supplied

But then the gravity of her observation hit me. As I looked around the shop, it was plastered with advertisements. On the walls, hanging from the ceilings, standing as cardboard cut-out figures and featuring on product packaging.

There were wide, white smiles of men, women and children everywhere, all of them slim and unquestionably aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Nope, no ugly people in sight.

In contrast, in this Halloween corner, the shelves were filled with images that were the polar opposite. Decrepit faces of witches, the rotting skin of zombies, creepy clowns, stark white skeletons with haunting black markings and then next to them all of the tools: fake blood, makeup kits and costumes. Tool kits to ‘uglify’ rather than beautify.

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My daughter’s observation was right on the money, being ugly was Halloween’s mantra and this was a refreshing change from the norm. Even my six-year-old had picked up on this.

That’s what is great about Halloween, it allows us as well as kids to dress up in a way we probably wouldn’t normally and take on a persona that is usually viewed by our society as ‘ugly'.

It is a one day of the year festivity where it is “cool” (as my six-year-old would say) to be ugly and grotesque. Cool to be weird and ‘out there'. Often it is the uglier or more grotesque, the better. Not only does Halloween encourage this, it is an occasion where it is celebrated.

Shona Hendley. Image: Supplied

it isn’t just the ugly and grotesque that is celebrated, it is the weird, wacky and just plain fun. This is the other wonderful thing about Halloween too, you can be whoever or whatever you want.

Although our family has celebrated Halloween for years now, it wasn’t until my observant six-year-old pointed out this component of the festivity that I realised how fabulous it really is.

Lana Hirschowitz

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While I can see how easy it is to view Halloween in a negative way, to criticise it for multitudes of reasons and turn your nose up at those who celebrate it, a look a little deeper, just as my daughter did, can offer a much more relevant and positive perspective.

A day where it is fun to be ugly and weird. A day when you can be someone that is not yourself and basically embody everything we normally as a society don’t value.

If you ask me, that is a great reason to celebrate.

Featured image: Supplied