I Want “Nun” of That!

“Rick & Morty,” aliens, football players, bags of Franzia, and nuns flooded the streets surrounding Colorado College this weekend. One of those costumes is unlike the others. Though while the majority of CC students are incredibly politically aware, some students lacked appropriate judgment as they dressed as nuns for Halloween. This was not limited to students at CC, though, and I was incredibly surprised to see nun costumes scattered throughout my Instagram and Facebook feeds.

Cartoon by Lo Wall

Although I was aware that a nun serves as a figure in Catholicism, I was unsure of the actual commitment or symbolism of a nun. A nun is defined as a “woman member of a religious order bound by the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.” A nun is a representation of purity and doing good. In order to become a nun, a woman sets forth on a two-year-long process, which involves visiting convents, attending retreats, and praying to discover which particular religious order she will join. Then, once a woman becomes a nun, her life is dedicated to serve all other living beings while she lives her life in prayer and contemplation.

However, nuns on Halloween do not seem to be partaking in activities of obedience and serving all other living beings through “doing good.” The nuns who roamed the streets of college towns held red Solo cups, wore fishnet tights with fitted black dresses, and consumed lots of Jell-o shots. When someone dresses up as a nun partaking in activities and wearing clothing that differs from the entire mission of a nun, it is a mockery. Of course, I assume that is not the intent of a student, yet it is important to realize how it may disrespect a group of people who regard those women as symbolic figures. The act of wearing the nun outfit out on Halloween takes a woman’s decision to a life of meditation and juxtaposes it with contradicting activities and attire, which can be perceived as offensive.

Additionally, a person dressing in a nun costume does not give an accurate representation of traditional nun attire. In traditional Roman Catholic and Anglican orders, a nun wears a long tunic, covered by a “scapular cowl” and a veil. By contrast, the majority of costumes  on Halloween consisted of small, tight dresses exposing the majority of their bodies. Perhaps, if the intent of the nun costume was to honor part of a faith or a woman that a person greatly appreciates, the costume could not be deemed inapt, but that did not seem like the goal of the Halloween nuns I saw.

Part of the reason many students do not see a nun as an offensive costume, or fail to think twice about concocting some sort of fun nun dress-up for Halloween, is that it feels as if they are simply dressing as another profession. Dressing as a doctor, pilot, or police officer may strike someone as the same type of costume as dressing like a nun. However, the difference is that being a nun is not a profession; it is a life choice. As explained previously, a nun involves a woman committing her life to a set of vows, whereas, while the other professions listed may hold great sentiment towards a person, people get paid to do those to sustain a lifestyle and maybe a family, too. They are not jobs that guide a person to live life in a serious, religious capacity.

Despite the fact that I saw several students dressed as nuns, believe the majority of them were not ill intentioned. It was a lack of deeper thought as to what exactly the nun may symbolize to a specific group of people and religion. While I have seen many previously popular offensive costumes dwindle in numbers as many people are successfully moving past tired stereotypes of offensive and inappropriate costumes, there is still more work we can put in.

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