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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Costumes and Your Personality

What Your Halloween Costume Says About You

Getups can say much -- maybe too much -- about the personal -- and often hidden -- makeup of their wearers

Halloween from a psychologist's prospective.

This interesting article comes from Seattlepi.com. Written By: LAURA LICA

Sally Foster, a psychology professor with the University of Miracosta, Calif., and John Suler, psychology professor at the Rider University in New Jersey are two experts that say our costume choices are not random, even if we think so. And although you might think your mask hides you, it's not entirely true. Although price, comfort and convenience can factor in, when you choose a costume, you live a fantasy and you show the others a part of your inner self.

Here's what Foster and Suler say about various costume types.

Sexy characters
French maids, hot nurses or prostitutes can represent one's own repressed sexuality, Foster said. They also can be healthy expressions of someone who is not very repressed.
Suler said the increasingly popular "pimp and ho" characters represent inner struggles.
"Should we be pure and chaste and holy ... or let loose with sexual desires and acting out? In those costumes you see these inner struggles (again, a polarity) being expressed."

Costume choices rooted in fame and popular culture tend to follow trends, and like trends, they may spread quickly then disappear, Suler said. People may simply wish to display a knowledge of current events or share their interests. Or they may use them to express personality traits or social issues that are associated with the celebrity's image (sensuality, intelligence, power, corruption, rebellion, etc.).
"I think this is a likely choice for the Walter Mittys of the world to be someone more dashing and daring, someone with real power," Foster said.

Scary characters
Zombies, vampires, skeletons and other monsters show our fascination with the macabre, the grotesque. Death has always been something we humans are scared of, yet drawn to, Foster said.

Fairies or princesses represent one's lost innocence or beauty, or a return to a safer and simpler time, Foster said.

Generally, animals represent strength, basic instincts, with other specific traits for specific creatures, Foster said. For instance, cats are sensual, purring, soft creatures.
"I saw two women dressed as cats even though in real life they're very reserved persons and do not display their sensuality," Foster said.
Because animals symbolize certain traits or attributes in myth as well as popular culture (such as strength, loyalty, grace, independence, cunning, transcendence), an animal costume may represent some real aspect of a person's identity, or some admired characteristic, Suler said.
Thinking in the tradition of the Native American, he added, we might even regard an animal costume as being an individual's totem -- a symbol of one's essential nature or potential.

Comic/cartoon characters
Clowns and the like represent whimsy, playfulness and youth, Foster said. People want to leave their serious natures behind on this holiday.
Some cartoon characters have very cultural significance and may even represent archetypal personality types (for example Bugs Bunny as a confident trickster), according to Suler. And some adults wear more sophisticated cartoons, such as anime. The psychological tone of these costumes tend to be more seductive, whimsical or mysterious.

Evil characters
Evil costumes allow people to safely -- and even creatively -- express their dark side without guilt, Suler said.
He adds that some people may use evil or aggressive costumes as a way (consciously or unconsciously) to alienate others, which indicate anxiety about intimacy and being vulnerable.

Powerful characters
This can be a variation of the "evil" costume, or a more benign expression of a fantasy of omnipotence, Suler said. They also can express underlying feelings of helplessness and insecurity.

So before you put on your costume, whether it's a monster, a "Matrix" hero, a witch, a priest or a prostitute, consider your choice -- it may tell people more about you than you realize.

Written By: LAURA LICA

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