Halloween approaches and while all the young children dream of dressing up like Power Rangers, fairy princesses, Jedi, and dinosaurs; women roughly 15 years older are preparing their sexy Power Rangers, sexy fairy princesses, sexy Jedi, and sexy dinosaur costumes. Which is awful. Right?
THE PSYCHOSEXUAL AND SOCIOPOLITICAL RAMIFICATIONS OF SEXY RAINBOW BRITE
I have seen a lot of discussion about the “sexy Halloween costume” trend. Many feel that it’s yet another way to objectify women, and more distressingly, a way in which women objectify themselves. Others feel that it’s harmless fun. Personally, I don’t have a problem with it for the following reason:
HALLOWEEN CREATES A SAFE ZONE FOR PERSONAL EXPRESSION
There’s a reason why cosplaying has taken off like it has, it allows people who like to express themselves through costumes the ability to do so more than once a year. Halloween allows people to wear clothing that they couldn’t wear normally, it allows us to embody characters who are not like us, and it allows us to become walking references to the media properties we like. “Hey! Are you Malcolm Reynolds? Awesome!” “Woah! Are you that water tribe girl who you see in the background of the first episode for like three seconds? Awesome!” “Oh! Are you a purple Smurf because it still feels weirdly inappropriate that crazed zombie Smurfs were black? Awesome!”
Now, the important thing about self-expression is that it’s never really right or wrong, only socially appropriate and inappropriate in certain contexts (and one could argue that one role art plays in our society is to shatter those contexts, but that’s another article for another time). And college Halloween parties, Halloween parades, and a lot of media has now made it OK to express your sexuality through a costume on Halloween. In a way a lady wearing a “Sexy Ghostbuster” outfit is saying “I am the following things: A fan of Ghostbusters, a sexual person, leggy.”
Now before we go much further I do want to make a point that when I say “safe zone” I mean socially, like you won’t be ridiculed. Everyone should still try to be safe when they go out, bring a friend, and maybe some pepper spray just in case. End aside.
PRESSURE AND EXPECTATION
Of course any thought of personal and artistic expression has to be balanced with the expectations, judgements, and outright pressure that our society (and by that I mean men) places on women. Nowhere is this more evident than in those temporary Halloween stores that crop up in unoccupied mall stores. It can be disheartening to see that the “sexy”, or more appropriately, the “sexualized” options outnumber the “non-sexualized” options by quite a margin. Often there’s no option that is simply feminine without being revealing, and ladies are left with the option of A) dressing up like “sexy” Goldilocks or B) wearing a full bear costume complete with giant mascot head.
If you go to Amazon.com (and you should through the Major Spoilers Link) and type in ‘costumes’ the first page contains 9 ‘sexy lady’ costumes and 8 boys’ ninja costumes. And really that’s the main issue here, that if a lady wants a specific costume she’ll have a much easier time finding one that is barely a costume at all. And if she wants to wear more clothes than that, then she has to go as something else. Essentially her ability to express herself is being curtailed because the available medium carries with it a big tag that says “Sexual version”. Again, if that’s what you want that’s not a problem, but if it’s not then it becomes a huge problem. There’s no freedom, no self expression, and no fun. Only a girl depressed about having to go as “a witch” because that was the only “non-sexy” costume available, and her poor friend who spends all night with one hand behind her trying to pull down a skirt that, due to its length and structural bond with a corset will simply not cover any more than it already is.
A SEXY MAJOR SPOILERS CONTRIBUTING EDITOR COSTUME
So that’s the extent of my opinion. I think it’s OK if you want to be a sexualized reverse-gender Beetlejuice, but I’m sad that you can’t just be a reverse-gender Beetlejuice. A lot of people bring up the option of making your own costume, but honestly not everyone knows how to sew and not everyone wants to, that’s kind of like walking into your grocery store, asking them why they don’t carry yogurt, and the clerk telling you that you should just get your own bacteria cultures. As with anything though, consumers have the power to change things, if you let your local costume store know what you want, and if you let costume companies know that you’re not happy with their selection, you are at least doing your part to change things in the direction you want.
Happy Halloween and be safe!