Why you should dress up as a sexy cat this Halloween

Don’t let the haters get you down


Collegian File Photo

By Brigid Hern, Collegian Columnist

College lore will have you believe that every year on Halloween weekend, droves of college-aged women wearing black tutus and cat ears step out to celebrate one of the biggest holidays of the academic year. Eyeliner whiskers and impractical black heels complete the look of these female caricatures which are few and far between in the real world. Never once in my college experience have I seen one of these supposedly infamous “sexy black cat” costumes. Where did this stereotype come from and when did we all agree to run away from it?

The sexy black cat costume, like the Ugg boots and the pumpkin spice latte, has become a staple of a niche of womanhood that’s defined as “the basic girl.” The basic girl lives at Starbucks, always wears leggings and can quote Friends like she’s seen every season (which she has). This basic girl lives in our minds as this real figure with real attributes, when in fact she doesn’t really exist. There may be girls that fit the bill of “basic” but there are not nearly enough of them to warrant such widespread use of the term. Women are placed into the category of “basic” by people around them with wild abandon. A woman who wears Ugg boots but has never seen Friends, doesn’t drink pumpkin spice lattes and doesn’t have an infinity tattoo may still be categorized as “basic” despite meeting merely a sliver of the criteria. This category of “basic” is arbitrary at best and pejorative and demeaning at worst. “Basic” is not desirable, it’s not kind and it’s certainly never said with a positive intention.

But maybe you’re not one of those women who is a basic. You check off none of the boxes on the rubric for basic. If that’s the case, you’re still not free.

“VSCO girls”, “Tumblr girls”, “Instagram Baddies”, “Asian baby girls”, “e-girls”, “soft girls”, “goth girls”, the list of these hugely broad and primarily undefined categories of women is seemingly endless and ever-updating. If basic doesn’t fit, there’s another title that will, and these titles can be all-consuming. What you can wear, the language you use, what you can post and sometimes even who you can hang out with can be threatened by these titles. Women, in fear of these titles, have begun caring too deeply about a cause that is nonsensical, arbitrary and not in their control. I will admit that part of my life is dedicated to not falling too perfectly into one of these categories for fear that I will be seen as someone I’m not. For this very reason, I don’t dress up as a sexy cat on Halloween. I’m worried about being seen as “basic.” This year, however, I’m ready to put my foot down.

For too long, I and a bunch of other women have dedicated at least parts of our Halloween weekend to making sure that our costume doesn’t accidentally come across as something even scarier than a Halloween monster —  a “basic girl.”

You should be a sexy cat this Halloween because it’s time that we brush off the fear of these meaningless titles that shouldn’t hold any weight in our lives. Dressing up as a sexy cat is the perfect rebellion against a system that demands we spend our weekend hyper-fixating on our behaviors rather than on actually having fun. I don’t care that people around me might think I look basic for wearing a non-offensive, easy and cute costume and neither should you.

And if you won’t be dressing up as a sexy cat for Halloween, look around and make sure you’re contributing to an environment that’s not judgmental about silly categories that are nothing but demeaning. An environment that still pigeonholes women into depreciatory stereotypes belittles people who are just trying to enjoy their Halloween. So, ladies and gentlemen, dawn your impractical black stilettos and put on your kitty ears because it’s time that we move past these reductive titles and on to an era of Halloween (and of general humanity) that is not so strung up on limiting people having a good time through pejorative, childish, capricious labels.

Brigid Hern is a collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]