Family Photo Album: What We Were for Halloween Way Back When

It’s almost Halloween! Do you know where your embarrassing childhood photos from Octobers past are? I sure hope so, ’cause after I show you ours it’s only fair for you to show us yours, y’know? I present to you, without any further ado, the Autostraddle staff you know and love way back when they weren’t yet too old to trick-or-treat. (No judgment if you still do.)

Founder and CEO Riese was a tomato.



Executive Editor Laneia was Betty Boop.

Pics 4

Managing Editor Rachel was Disney fox princess Maid Marian (she thinks).


Senior Editor Yvonne was a witch.


Senior Editor Heather was a casual Batman.


Editorial Assistant Chelsey was Raggedy Ann.


Modtern Kaylah was an “Egyptian Goddess.”


Intern Liz was Hermione Granger.


Music Editor Stef was a rabbit…


…and a mouse.


NSFW Editor Carolyn Yates was a ballerina.


She was, coincidentally, also enrolled in a ballet class.

Geekery Editor Ali went as both a black and a white cat…

Ali Halloween_0002

Ali Halloween_0009

Decisions are hard.

…the Statue of Liberty…

Ali Halloween_0004

…an angel…

Ali Halloween_0005

…Mrs. Potato Head…

Ali Halloween_0012

…and King Trident.

Ali Halloween_0003

She also wants to note that her mother made all of her costumes growing up. YOU GO, ALI’S MOM.

Feminism & Straddleverse Editor Carmen (that’s me!) was a clown.

2014-08-02 10.08.44

Sincere apologies to Carmen’s brother

Just so everyone knows, I was the lion costume the next year. I am king.

Almost-Doctor Lizz was the Devil, obvi.

image (1)

Contributing Editor Alley was a topless sailor…


Weren’t we all.

…and (also) a clown.


Contributing Editor and DIY-er in Residence Hansen was a butterfly.


Contributing Editor Kaitlyn was a pumpkin…

Halloween 97

…and a spider witch.

Halloween 2001

Contributing Editor July was David Bowie.

July Westhale

Contributing Editor Laura Mandanas was a bunny…

Laura Mandanas

…and a koala.

laura the koala

Contributing Editor Maddie was candy corn…


…and, well, Madeline.


What are your fondest Halloween memories? Did you ever wear something amazing and happen to have photographic evidence of it on hand? Feel free to leave all messages of these kinds in the comments. You never know how much #costumesolidarity we all might have with one another.

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Carmen spent six years at Autostraddle, ultimately serving as Straddleverse Director, Feminism Editor and Social Media Co-Director. She is now the Consulting Digital Editor at Ms. and writes regularly for DAME, the Women’s Media Center, the National Women’s History Museum and other prominent feminist platforms; her work has also been published in print and online by outlets like BuzzFeed, Bitch, Bust, CityLab, ElixHER, Feministing, Feminist Formations, GirlBoss, GrokNation, MEL, Mic and SIGNS, and she is a co-founder of Argot Magazine. You can find Carmen on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr or in the drive-thru line at the nearest In-N-Out.

Carmen has written 919 articles for us.


  1. These are fantastic! Although it appears that the kid next to Riese decided to dress up as my dad for Halloween.

  2. I was raised in a pretty anti-Halloween household. My mom was an elementary school teacher, and had developed a dislike for Halloween because she said it distracted kids from their class work. My sister and I rarely dressed up.

    It wasn’t until high school that I became more of a Halloween head. In grade 10 I dressed up as Rogue in her gothy X-Men: Evolution incarnation, and in grade 11 I went as Frank the bunny from Donnie Darko, with a (heavy ass!) papier mache mask I had begun work on 2 months in advance. The icing on the cake was going trick or treating with my friends in the very affluent neighbourhood our high school was located in, so we got a metric crapton of full sized candy bars, and got to look inside all of the fancy mansions. A lot of time was lost, however, as I had to explain my costume to every person who answered the door. I remember one dude who answered the door…

    guy: “So we have a robber, a hippie, a maid, and…what are you?”
    me: “I’m Frank the Bunny!”
    guy: *blank stare*
    me: “He’s a character in Donne Darko…”
    guy: *blank stare*
    me: “It’s this independent movie…kind of a thriller/horror film.”
    guy: “Hold on a sec. (runs into next room, comes back a minute later) I just went to ask my sister if she’s heard of that movie. She said nope.”
    me: “Okay then?”

    Oh 2003, we had some good times.

    Anyway, I’m considering dressing up as Angela Chase from My So-Called Life, this year. I dress like her 99% of the time, anyway.

  3. These are all so great. I think my best childhood costume was She-Ra. (I should’ve known I was gay right then, lol.) Unfortunately I do not have a picture handy.

    I love Halloween, and now that I have kids it is once again socially acceptable for me to dress up and go trick or treating!

  4. I love these pictures. :D

    I was a stick of Juicy Fruit (I’m all about that product placement.)

  5. It scares me that some of you successful ladies are young enough to have been Hermione Granger for Halloween.

  6. These are brilliant. Once I get home I’ll have to see if I can scrounge up some old photos of my brother and I. My favorite costume, hands down, was when he was I think in kindergarten or first grade, and he decided to dress up as a Mummy-Ghost-Goblin for Halloween. Which ended up with him getting very upset when people mistook him for a ghost in a tophat. I wanted us to be mustachioed detectives named Jonesey and Jonesey, but you can’t have everything. I think that was the year I ended up being a flapper. This year I want to be a pin-up girl, but I’m not entirely sure yet.

  7. If I could work out how to link to a pic I posted on my instagram last year of me as dracula I would. But you’ll just have to trust me…I was a badass dracula when I was 9-ish. I have probably been a bin witch at some point also. Other Brits will know of the fabled bin witch…you see one every halloween.

  8. All of Ali’s right after the other was like the best kind of groundhog day!

    Unfortch my mother got all the baby pics after our break up. but you can just google a bugs bunny costume. I looked just like that, but with a bunch or red hair piling out the back.

    • Okay, so the story behind that is when my father sent me the pictures, I wasn’t at the computer. So I just forwarded Carmen the entire zip file, complete with my father’s email admitting he didn’t know how to crop these pictures, and said “pick one.” And instead, she picked all of them.

  9. pirate and zorro! i really loved zorro. i also dressed up as a ninja one year, but i don’t seem to have photographic evidence of that. and as robin to my best friend’s batman, but that was when i was like 19, and we cut up child-sized costumes to make them fit us, so i don’t believe i’ll be sharing photos of that!

  10. I once dressed up as a homemade Monopoly board, why didn’t my parents tell me that the other kids would think that was weird. Luckily I don’t think any pictures exist of this monstrosity.

  11. I have a pretty excellent picture of me as the tooth fairy, but this one of me as Minnie Mouse was the only one I could dig up:

  12. Riese is making the perfect expression for a tomato, but am commenting to ask if perhaps some elaboration were possible. Is there a tomato state of mind happening. Was there a cartoon tomato inspiration. Did the idea to make that expression spring fully-formed into Riese’s mind as genius kid ideas sometimes do.

    • i do not even know what kind of tomato magic happened to me that i decided that i wanted to be a tomato and also that tomatoes would have buck teeth overbites, but clearly i was really committed to that facial expression and i can only imagine that this idea came to me fully-formed, as genius kids ideas so often do, and that every tomato in michigan felt finally and truly represented on that day. that fine, fine, fine ragu-ready day.

      i should also mention that i had to sew the costume myself

  13. Very upset that I have no photographic evidence of my pile of leaves costume, but here I am as a concerned cowboy:

  14. Oh I love these posts every year! So adorable! I’ve always loved Halloween and costumes. I don’t think I have many pics though unfortunately. :( One memorable costume was late 80s I was Donatello of the Ninja Turtles. My dad loved helping to make costumes and he rigged up this great turtle shell out of a garbage can lid and pop riveted leather straps. Anyway, it was early enough in the Ninja Turtle craze that a lot of grownups didn’t get it and asked me if I was a garbage monster or something. I was damn proud of that costume though!

  15. One year when I was little I was a picnic basket. It was the most brilliant costume ever because I just got to eat bread and grapes out of my basketself all day, but also not brilliant because it’s difficult to sit down when you’re wearing a basket.

    I wish I had a picture online, but alas they’re all at home in some cupboard somewhere.

  16. This post is making me wanna cry. My mother wasn’t able to afford much for us growing up, but I remember her trying to make us feel included in every way possible. When I 8, she made my brother and me these totally non sensical costumes that I recall being embarrassed to wear but now
    appreciate so much.

  17. halloween babiesss ahhh

    I was peter pan/robin hood a few years in a row back in the day because that costume is essentially the same with varying shades of tights

    • i always get peter pan and robin hood confused, which is weird since in cartoons one isn’t human. but thanks for confirming for me why that is. i feel less alone.

  18. When I was a kid I was OBSESSED with witches/supernatural stuff, and therefore dressed up as a witch for about 7 Halloweens in a row. This year I’m going to a party as a Maenad.

    • i was THE SCARIEST witch for halloween once. i wore a terrifying mask. everyone else was probably a “sexy witch” but i was queen of the dorks, so mine was straight-up HORRIFYING.


      i wish stef was here to appreciate this moment

  19. I was Susan B. Anthony one year, I wore a big dollar sign around my neck and people thought I was supposed to be a rapper. I was not impressed.

    Also a few years ago I got my whole family to dress up as the Weasleys. I was Fred. Our dog was Sirius and the cat was Crookshanks. One of the proudest moments of my life.

  20. I’ve got no pictures and my funniest costume story isn’t a Halloween costume, but a Mardi Gras costume.

    Still the most notable Halloween costumes would be the vampire costume from when I was 10 that my older brother, who was in town for what I don’t recall, said made me look like a hooker. Mercifully I though he said hacker.

    It helped my hot pink leopard print top, pleather mini, fishnets, and ankle boots did look like something that could have been in the movie Hackers (which had Angelina in it who made my stomach drop and was the coolest). I knew what a prostitute was, whore and lady of the evening were just never heard or read the term hooker at that time.

    The other notable costume is the one that was composed of an adult’s devil woman dress, Ruby Red Slippers and a Krueger claw. The dress was cherry red and had foam “flame shaped” shoulders. I was a tall kid, leggy kid.

    My other brother dressed up as Freddy Kruger but he demanded 2 claws because one did not make sense. We got put into a costume contest and they decided I was “Mrs. Krueger”

    I think I was 8 or 9 but that rubbed me the wrong way. He’s my brother ew and why not Ms. or Miss? Hell why do these people have to put me in some sort of booooox. Fucking lame is what I probably grumbled. I learned to cuss early. >_>

  21. I was an animal loving Nature Girl and my costumes reflected this. I remember dressing up as a, lion, wolf, and kangaroo on different years. The wolf had ferocious fangs, the lion had a big mane of yarn, and the kangaroo had an adorable tail that was approximately as long as I was tall. My awesomely craft-inclined mother sewed these herself. Sadly, I do not have any photo evidence.

  22. I imagine Riese thinking “This is the face that a tomato would always make if it had a face, so I must also make this face.”

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