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Put on That Mask: What Halloween Reveals About Your Happiness

Playing a character can be healthy for you

In happiness, I’m a big proponent of fake it ‘til you make it. Sometimes you just have to put on a happy face and grow into it. 

A few Halloweens ago, though, I put on a dead face, and grew into it.

I had spotted a gorgeous makeup tutorial on Pinterest for a Dia de Los Muertos sugar skull costume, and I was excited to replicate it. I spent about an hour painting my own face, trying to approximate the look I’d seen. I was happy with the result, and went out to a Halloween party.

At the party, I was surprised to find that I started to withdraw, become sullen, and just overall fade into a weird mood. I didn’t feel like drinking, I didn’t feel like socializing, I didn’t even feel like talking. After an hour, maybe two, I went home. I scrubbed off the makeup, feeling incredibly out of sorts.

Now, Dia de Los Muertos (the day of the dead) is a powerful Mexican cultural tradition—and is intended to be a lively celebration of life, rather than a mourning for death. Nonetheless, going full skeleton (many people paint their faces half-and-half in the Mexican celebrations), put me into a darker place than I intended.

Halloween is a day that frees us—it frees us to try on new costumes and characters, to play with parts of ourselves that we don’t always express. The proliferation of sexy costumes for women suggests that women are craving permission to be overtly sexy, but societal norms don’t allow them to that freedom but one day a year. Being sexy can make someone feel good and happy, but Halloween may be the only time she gives herself permission to do that.

Consider your planned Halloween costume this year: Is it helping you express part of your personality—a sense of humor you keep hidden, or a wittiness you’re proud of but quiet about? Is it silly? Last-minute? Is it helping you fake any part of your personality until you make it?

Have fun, be safe, and use this Halloween to help you explore the characters of yourself that you don’t always let free.


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