Woodland group gets real

Woodland for Women Worldwide is working to raise awareness about the messages today's Halloween costumes send to young women and girls with its GET REAL campaign.

BEACON FALLS — What is a young woman to wear this Halloween? A sexy, naughty nurse costume, perhaps? Or how about a provocative, scanty cowgirl getup.

The choice is clear to a group of impassioned young women, and even men, at Woodland Regional High School in Region 16.

None of it.

Members of Woodland for Women Worldwide, made up of students and faculty, want to raise awareness this Halloween about the messages today’s costumes send to young women and girls. Over a few weeks, the club formulated a plan to heighten awareness.

It’s the GET REAL Campaign.

The organization will encourage senior class girls to sign a pledge to wear appropriate costumes. And it will write letters and visit stores that carry suggestive outfits to inform them of the overly sexual messages the clothing conveys and ask them to be removed.

Members will wear orange T-shirts with a distressed “GET REAL” logo in black letters to promote healthy self-images.

Posters showing a real nurse costume in color and a sexy version in black and white will hang in the hallways. The logo “GET REAL” will be stamped over the objectified outfit.

At Woodland, only seniors have the privilege to dress up in costumes for Halloween. The organization has recognized the provocative trend of the holiday costumes and how the outfits have seeped into the school, said Lisa Olivere, club co-founder.

“It’s a one-dimensional version of what a woman is,” Olivere said.

Young women also are intelligent, funny, and sensitive, she said.

She noted that young men are painted with a one-dimensional brush, too, to be stoic and macho characters.
Senior Claire Mordowanec, 17, who lives in Beacon Falls, helped create the campaign’s name.

The students in the club were shown examples of Halloween costumes in a PowerPoint presentation prepared by Olivere and Deb Flaherty, teacher and co-club founder. One was of Hermione Granger, a character in the Harry Potter novels by J.K. Rowling.

It wasn’t the “real” Hermione, but a sexy, naughty version, Mordowanec said.

“Why does it have to be sexy because it’s a woman wearing it?” said Mordowanec, who is also editor of the school’s newspaper, Hawk Headlines.

For Halloween, she and a few others will dress up as the popular game Tetris. Each will wear a block shape.
“We’re going to be fully covered,” said Morgan Poeta, 16, a senior who lives in Beacon Falls.

Freshmen look up to seniors, and if they see them wearing sexy costumes, they will think this is normal and possibly make it an everyday clothing choice, she said.

“You don’t know it until you see it,” Poeta said. “You have to see it.”

The students plan to visit stores to find examples of scanty costumes, voice their opinion to staff and ask them to not sell the item. If their requests are ignored, students plan to demonstrate outside the stores, Olivere said.

The club hopes this campaign spreads to other schools, and next year, members may bring this to the elementary level, as costumes for younger children are provocative as well, Olivere said.

This campaign is not about blaming young women, but raising awareness, she said.

Woodland Principal Arnold Frank said he is proud of the students for wanting to take a stand.

“We want our kids to be passionate and involved in the world around them,” Frank said.