Hulk Out Everyday
Ah, it’s that special time of year again. The evening of wizardry, mystery, electricity, desire, spook, thrill. It’s the night when people of all ages, flying brazenly high on bounties of bite-sized sugar-bombs or lush libations, usually both, engage in various levels of shenanigans as their favorite movie star, comic book hero, television character, zoo animal, or pro athlete.
Happy Halloween, homies.
Historically, I’m a superhero-zombie-monster kind of gal. In pre-school, I dressed up as my favorite Care Bear, Wish Bear, whose mighty and heroic powers beamed from the star and rainbow on her tummy. In the first grade, I paraded as Batgirl, complete with my utility belt and Batarang. One year I was a Painter-Zombie, hungry for human brains with a Dutchboy paint can and roller-brush in-hand. And later, I graduated to characters like Lara Croft-Tomb Raider, a lady ninja assassin, and Resident Evil’s Alice. And, I fiercely did them all justice.
My all-time favorite was at last year's San Diego Comic-Con, which is pretty much Halloween, but in the middle of July and beefed-up on the magic of extreme geekery. I dressed up as one of my more recent favorites, The Hulk, and the experience was indeed incredible.
The green paint that masked, and fused with, every inch of my pale bare skin had also tinted my energy and persona. I felt empowered and strangely comforted. My embodiment of The Hulk gave me a reason to let go of my insecurities -- about being too buffed, short and stocky, with arms and legs too muscular -- just for a day. This occasion, and my perfect choice of superhero, gave me the permission and the perfect outlet to rock my physique and own it. It was no coincidence. Deep down inside, I wanted to be, and believed I was, superhuman. My ripped shirt and shorts could barely contain me. It all felt liberating, perfect, just right.
Lately, I’ve seen various photos on social media of people dressed to the nines as a Unicorn, Grumpycat, Bacon, Wonder Woman, Heisenberg, American Gladiators, and rocking out in full-character like it ain’t no thang. And, it’s got me thinking. What is it about Halloween that rouses people so strongly? What makes dressing up in character so special, fun, empowering?
Halloween is the one day -- or, here in the Bay Area, an entire week -- when we have the rare opportunity to escape from the real world, break free from the banality of our everyday clothes, and live as someone or something else so different from who we typically are during the rest of the year.
Halloween, and other themed days in SF such as Pride, Folsom Street Fair and Santa Con, serves as the appropriate occasion to sport otherwise ‘inappropriate’ costumes. They give us permission and a specific context -- which we eagerly seek -- where it is acceptable for us to be outwardly and explicitly bold, ridiculous, horrific, bloody, playful, gaudy, scantily-clad, half-naked even, and superhuman.
The fascination and the draw lie in our new-found ability to safely dance with a fear that we would typically not be so eager to face. We all fear connecting with and expressing other sides of ourselves, namely our primal desires and our hidden sides. And the coming of Halloween opens up the floodgates.
Halloween, as I read on Yogastrology.com and good ole Wikipedia, coincides with Samhain, a celebration from sunset on October 31st to sunset November 1st, the halfway point between the autumnal equinox and winter solstice, that welcomes the coming of winter, the darker season of the year. (got G.O.T.?) It is a time for us to embrace, reclaim, and reveal our darker side. Aha.
I believe Halloween has evolved into a much-needed occasion to express our desires to be our true and authentic selves -- which, sadly enough, is the modern-day version of our hidden ‘darker sides.’ Halloween lowers the stakes. Behind the buffer of a mask and an official agreed-upon date, we are safe from being judged, ridiculed, laughed at. For once, we won’t stand out for being different; we don't have to worry about being weird. We can embrace our savagery, our passion, humor, quirks, playfulness, aggression, our sexy.
The sad thing is that the fairy tale comes to an end. You have to strip off your armor, wipe away the make-up and glitter, peel off the beard, wash off the paint, put away your nunchuks. And, come morning time, you must go come back down to reality as your normal self. The day after Halloween, is always a somber - and hungover - one. I say, Eff that. Have a Halloween mentality everyday. Why do we need a reason, a specific context, permission to embody some other reality? Especially when that reality is simply an extension of ourselves. Be brave and come as you are, embrace your dark side, live super-human, dance in glitter, be bold enough to dawn spandex and a cape tomorrow or anytime you please.
Okay okay, spandex optional. But do dare to be, express, embrace, and unleash all that makes you unique. And, not just for one day of the year. Where's the fun in that?
Sometimes, all the time, you just gotta give yourself permission to get your Hulk on.