In the run up to Halloween, we are bombarded by advertisements for costume shops showcasing what feels like an extensive variation of costumes.
There is, however, one stark consistency to the style of these ensembles. While men’s costumes are generally replicas or full-piece outfits, women’s Halloween costumes are overtly sexy, and in some cases, completely ludicrous. Who realistically wants to dress up as a sexy packet of skittles or a promiscuous pumpkin?
Of course there are some people who enjoy wearing seductive clothing, and choose to display this on Halloween when they can dress overly sexual with complete social immunity. To quote the famous line from Mean Girls, “Halloween in the one day a year when a girl can dress up like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it”.
I am a complete advocate for wearing whatever you want and whatever makes you happy. If being a sexy pigeon on Halloween is your thing, then go for it.
Halloween is about fantasy and wicked ways, and dressing like a fetish party can surely be empowering to some women.
The problem lies in the obvious gender imbalance in regards to the sexual objectivity of women through the universally accepted societal rule that women’s costumes should be sexy above all other things.
Of course, men can buy racy costumes, but male costumes are not marketed as being sexy. Most male costumes are true to life, they are uniforms such as policemen of doctors, or are specifically aimed to be funny or fear inducing.
Over in the women’s section it’s “sexy bondage cop”, ”naughty night-time nurse” and “deluxe Indian hottie”, which draws in cultural appropriation issues as well as sexual objectification. In the height of the Ebola crisis last year, there was even a “sexy Ebola nurse” costume. Because fatal infectious diseases are just so sexy.
While scrolling through costume sites, most of the women’s attires are complimented with thigh-high stockings and suspender belts, which only highlights the apparent necessity for sexualisation. Some of the costumes could easily compete to be lingerie.
The same cannot be said for men, because society does not deem men to be sexual objects in the way women have been projected since time immemorial.
Every Halloween women ask themselves, will I be sexy or not this year? And due to the proliferation of sexualized outfits, sexy is often the quicker, easier and cheaper choice.
Halloween is the perfect opportunity for people to be creative and embrace another persona, which for women has unfortunately been the pigeon-holed persona of an arousing object of interest.
I propose to reclaim the holiday and wear whatever costume you want, sexy or not.
Image credit: Sarah Magliocco