We all wear a mask of some kind on a daily basis. It depends on where we are, what we are doing, or whom we are with, to apply the perfect veil for each setting. But those are just facades. They fall away and are replaced in a moment’s notice.
A costume, on the other hand, is not just a mask. It is meant to change our complete appearance so as to not be recognized by the world outside. In my childhood, and later, I have won many costume contests. My imagination was wild and uncensored. In the fifth grade I was attending my first coed school and was thrilled with all of the festivities around Halloween. There was a party, the girls and boys were dressed up and there was the contest for best costume. I worked daily on mine. There was the shopping, making the pattern, sewing, and putting every last detail on to make it perfect.
The day finally came. We are all lined up outside on the playground as a nun would slowly walk up and down the aisles and examine each child’s outfit. There would be a boy winner and a girl winner. I knew that I would win. No one had anything like mine. I came as a ‘cigarette girl.’ My face was beaming with pride as I stood there with my net stockings, my adorable tiny skirt, and my plunging top that showed what most girls my age wish they had. There was no doubt in my mind that with all of that plus my full -face makeup with false eyelashes and three -inch heels, I would win the prize.
Up until this time in my life, I had always gone to all-girl Catholic school and here I was in the same classroom with boys. This was the most free I had ever felt. And this victory could make me popular with the whole class.
The time came to announce the lucky winners and, just as I had predicted, my name was called as winner for the girls’ costumes. I walked slowly up to the front and stood beside the boy who had won. Nothing could wipe that smile off of my face.
My outfit had portrayed the deepest part of me. I needed to be seen as beautiful, worthy, and wanted.
It was not long before my dream would be crushed. The principal Sister Mary Joseph vetoed the other nuns’ votes. She felt that my costume was inappropriate for a young girl. There would not be a prize for me on that day. I was crushed and shamed for showing the person inside me to the people who lived in my outside.