girl world

(GIF: Tumblr)

Every English-speaking human who has existed in the last 11 years knows the official Mean Girls rule: “In Girl World, Halloween is the one night a year when girls can dress like a total slut, and no other girls can say anything about it.” It really is true—unless you’re going to set out to make your own costume or dress up like a ketchup bottle or something (and honestly, even that’s not entirely safe), every women’s Halloween costume is advertised as “sexy.” There’s sexy corn, sexy pizza, sexy Donald Trump, and there are even sexy cop costumes for children, because we’ve gotta get the kids started early while they’re still nice and impressionable.

(Related: 11 ‘Sexy’ Jack-O-Lanterns That Are Hotter Than You)

Now, normally, trying to look ~*s3xy*~ for Halloween isn’t really a concern of mine. The only real “sexy” costume I ever bought was a cop costume during my freshman year of college. I wore it one time, was constantly pulling it down, and promptly put it in the communal costume bin in my sorority house basement, save for the handcuffs and cop hat, of course. Every year after that, I’ve done silly things that I knew would make me laugh, even if no one was sexually attracted to it. One time I was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, and last year I was a Seal of Approval, a costume that I was extremely proud of, furry seal hat and all. Who doesn’t love a good pun, right?

I’m not really sure what changed over the course of the year, but for some reason, with October finally upon us, I feel a lot of pressure to lose weight in time for Halloween. Don’t get me wrong—I still really want to wear my seal hat again, and that costume doesn’t really require fishnets or skintight leather bodysuits, but what with writing this column and having people tell me that I look skinny lately, I’ve been thinking that maybe this could be the year that I wear something tight and categorically and overtly sexy.

keith buzzfeed

(GIF: Giphy)

Normally, this is where I’d start with some transition like, “But here’s the problem…” But the thing is, wanting to wear something particularly sexy isn’t really a problem. Quite frankly, I probably do it once a month—I’ll wear something tighter or shorter or boob-ier than usual out to a bar just because I want to. As a ~*professional modern lady*~, that is my right. The problem is that I shouldn’t feel extra pressure to fit in to the expectations that now come with Halloween whenever I get a new Facebook invitation to a party. Choosing a costume shouldn’t be an exercise in self-hate and cause an outpouring of body image issues. Costumes, by definition, are supposed to be fun. They’re supposed to make you feel like someone or something else for a night, and that something isn’t supposed to be an insecure mess of a human.

(Related: Ears That Stick Out, And Other ‘Imperfections’ That I Find Attractive)

One of my favorite videos that came out last year was a BuzzFeed video wherein men tried on some of the most stereotypical Halloween costumes out there. There were ladybug costumes, fireman costumes, and girl scout costumes, and pretty much all of the men involved ended up showing their nipples at one point or another. At the end of the video, they said something to the effect of, “Dress sexy if you want to, but definitely don’t feel obligated.” Which, you know, is how it should be. But it shouldn’t be a big deal to hear someone say it. It doesn’t help that these “sexy” costumes wouldn’t fit anyone bigger than size two, hence the pressure I feel to lose a lot of weight in a very short period of time. It’s just not realistic, and frankly, it seems a little pointless to try to fit into these kinds of costumes when A) You’re probably never going to wear them again, and B) You’re going to be shoving fistfuls of candy in your face for the entire night/the next few days/the rest of the year anyway, so you might as well just wear you want to wear and feel good about it.

The stress of picking out a good Halloween costumes as someone who strives to be actively funny and is really bad at making decisions is bad enough without feeling like I have to slim down to fit in with certain size expectations. The fact that I feel any stress at all is a little silly, given the fact that Halloween, when looked at without all of the cultural significance behind it, is supposed to just be fun. And, while the pressure that I feel might be more of a personal problem (it definitely is), I don’t think anyone would say I was wrong if I believed that the pressure came from the societal need for all women to be thin and model-esque. Since that need isn’t really going anywhere any time soon (though it is diminishing), it falls upon us to be the bigger person, so to speak, and do what we want without worrying about others. Easier said than done, but necessary all the same.

The pressure to lose weight is always there as a woman who works, to a degree, in the fashion industry, and I’ve accepted that. But it shouldn’t impact my desire to walk around a fluffy animal hat, tossing Reese’s cups at passersby one any given day of the year. Even if I haven’t lost all the weight that I feel I need to by the time Halloween rolls around, I’ll still be happy to dress up and costume-watch, even if that means that people can see that I still have a shapely butt. There are worse things.