By Stanislav Nachev
The mask and costume allow us to embrace a certain part of ourselves, which otherwise we would hide under regular clothes.However, this puts our daily identity under a question. By identity I mean who we think we are, our actions, likes and want. Hence, are we truly whom we present ourselves to be in front of others? Or do we have the need to always show different parts of whom we are simply through changing our clothes everyday? If that is the case then, isn’t Halloween just another such occasion to show off yet another one layer of our multifaceted personality? Yes and no. Halloween is indeed an occasion but a special case. We require one such day of the year in order to show a particular part of who are. Namely, a different side which otherwise we wouldn’t reveal to the public. However, the Halloween costume does not lend itself only to the ones with darker sides to their personalities as it may be misconceived. In fact, very cheerful and happy costumes also become comfortable outfits to showcase different sides of one’s character in a creative fashion.
In other words, the costume is simply there as a placeholder for a much larger idea, namely the one of identity. Each and everyday we are constrained to certain kinds of identities only. Wether we are at work, school, or during a social gathering such as a party. However, occasions such as Halloween or a masquerade such as Mardi Gras, allow us to use our imagination and make up yet another seemingly temporary identity. In turn, we do not need to have any sentimental attachments to it like we do with all the others we use everyday. We are given a carte blanche and allowed to discard it at the end of the night in the same way the chariot of Cinderella turns back into a pumpkin. The next day our glorious and intriguing masks and costumes are simply tacky and cheap clothes bought from a drift store.
There is a deeper attachment to this temporary and convenient switch of identities. Unless we made it ours and attach our own meaning to it those tacky and cheap clothes will stay as such and never turn into an imaginative costume. Unless, we give it shape and form they will not mean anything to others as well. By looking at another everyday object, the book, we can shed more light on this identity switch. We associate ourselves with certain books and we buy them not so much to read them sometimes but to simply possess them. The act of buying and making them ours satisfies a certain mental hunger in the same way that putting on a costume does. Perhaps, clothing shopping works the same as book shopping. We are out there hunting for new identities. The costumes allow us to be who we want to be and the books allow us to imagine who we want to be. Keeping in mind of course that this is valid for fiction literature even though self-help books and certain non-fiction books such as biographies work as well.
Both the Costume and the Book are placeholders, in this case, but not limited to, for our ever changing desire to be different. Those and other objects and items of our everyday life allow us to reflect on our reality of whom we want to be. We are then stuck in a perpetuating state of constant desire to be different at different times. They are also there to let everyone else around us know in an act of personal manifest that this is whom we are right now. Identity is a tricky topic, however it does mean it should not be approach boldly. This article is an attempt at tackling some of the aspects and issues caused as a result of our desire to be different.