Face Equality International

Why Halloween is my hell


It’s that time of year. The weather gets colder, the nights close in earlier and the autumn leaves are scattered on the pavements. It’s October. For some, it signifies the ever-closing gap towards Christmas, but for me, it brings on the fear and dread of one occasion: Halloween.  

Why so miserable some might ask? It’s simply an old tradition where people dress up and celebrate. Now, I’m not a complete party pooper. I love to party hard. Any excuse to dress up fancy and get together with friends is a hit in my book. But Halloween always puts me in the worst mood. Not unhappy or stroppy, it makes my confidence and self-worth almost vanish.  

I’ve worked hard to like my face. To look in the mirror and accept what stares back at me, my birthmark and the odd shapes and tones it brings to my face. But Halloween is the one time of year that everything goes out the window, often without even a patronising remark or slur being mentioned. It’s the time of year when people put on their best scary outfits. ‘Let’s out monster ourselves, put on a mask with scars, draw cuts oozing with fake blood, the scarier the better. Let’s pretend for a few hours that we’re – and let’s not hold back here – ‘ugly’.’ Because that’s what we’ve all been led to believe. Traditional Witches are cruel, evil beings with their crocked noses, their giant moles. The villain in the movie, complete with a facial scar, or a burn. Scar means scary, burn means baddie. We all know how the trope goes.  

So here’s why I’m so anti-Halloween: let’s start with the jibes. When I was growing up, so often at Halloween, bullies would point at me, ‘oh look at her face, got her Halloween mask on already’. It’s degrading to have someone tell you that you look like a monster. This is how I look all of the time. Not for one day a year. But for the rest of my life. Bullies one, my confidence, nil.  

Makeup artists, that scar you’ve created, that burn you’ve put down one side of your face. Some people actually look like that in real life. Some people have to live like that every day. The trauma of having a facial burn, or scar or any kind of difference is our reality, yet you use it for your pleasure. We know how damaging and insulting cultural appropriation is, yet creating fake injuries for fun is acceptable because society tell us it is. It comes back to the trope, the villain always has a facial difference. Scary is bad.   

So please, before you paint half your face with fake blood and flesh, or pretend your face is covered in bruises, before your pretend to be slashed across the face, take a moment to realise the impact these ‘looks’ have on people with real scars and real burns and real facial differences. We don’t get the privilege to remove them when they’re no longer part of a costume. We wear them every day of our lives. We don’t get the luxury of being able to wash it off. This is us. We’re not villains, we’re not monsters, or witches and we’re definitely not here to be your inspiration porn. We’re just ordinary people. Please bear us in mind before you dress up for a day, these are our faces for life. We deserve to be treated with dignity. We deserve equality.  

Find more from Sharon here: @sharon_swims

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