Home / Blog / Article


October 30 2017

The Un-Grown: How the Adults Stole Halloween

by Charlotte Hays

We're seeing a lot of people obsessing over politically correct Halloween costumes. But maybe there is another trend that bears some discussion: adults dressing up for Halloween.

Halloween used to be for children but New York Post movie critic Kyle Smith observes that this is no longer the case:

This year, 48 percent of American adults plan to wear a Halloween costume, according to the National Retail Federation, which says that 2017’s spooky-season spending will hit an all-time high of $9.1 billion, or $86 per household. Sixteen percent — that’s 50 million people — plan to put a costume on their pet.

In other words, we’re just a year or two away from a majority of our nation’s adults playing kiddie dress-up.

Halloween is blowing up because childhood is leaking further and further into adult life, and millennials in particular aren’t fully sold on the idea that they’re grown-ups. Candy? Costumes? Silly pranks? These things should gradually start losing interest for you about the time you learn what a 401(k) is. Instead, childish behavior is losing all connotations of being embarrassing.

Video games — sales of which hit an all-time high of $30.6 billion last year — as well as the increasing popularity of cosplay (dressing up in costumes the other 364 days of the year), comic-book conventions, superhero movies and fantasy sports are all symptoms of what Andersen dubs “Kids ‘R’ Us Syndrome”: We’re losing our collective sense of when it’s time to put away childish things.

Halloween is simply the night when it’s most socially acceptable to act 11.

Smith's observations on Halloween came in a review of a book entitled Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500 Year History, by Kurt Andersen, who apparently deals with the un-growns attraction to Halloween costuming. Smith's column inspired a Hot Air item headlined "How the Millennials Ruined Halloween."

Hot Air's Jazz Shaw argues that there's nothing wrong with adults costuming for Halloween but goes on to say Smith is on firmer ground when he talks about Millennials' being confronted with so many choices. Shaw says sure, wear a costume but be sure you are also saving for a 401 K.

I beg to differ with Shaw. I don't want to offend you if you are forty-five and putting your finishing touches on your Halloween costume, but I find this phenomenon of the un-grown somewhat troubling. I was hit with how prevalent it was a decade ago living in New York, where Halloween fever seemed to be affecting some people decidedly  above the appropriate age--and not just twenty-somethings but older children, too  (Washington is probably--thank heavens--still a bit too nerdy and uptight for wholesale costuming by adults).    

 Playing amateur psychologists, I attributed Halloween mania among the un-grown to two things: the expansion of childhood (as Smith saw it) and perhaps a yearning for ritual and texture and community in their lives (Halloween, after all, is the kiddie expression of All Saints--All Hallows--the next day).

Still, I don't want to be judgmental. So here's to a nice safe Halloween evening--even if you're fifty-five and dressing up as a Kardashian.

 

 

 

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
Follow us