For most horror fanatics, Halloween is the most exciting part of our entire year. Halloween is a time of tricks, treats, and dressing up as whoever or whatever we please. The weird thing is that for women, we are forced to be whatever or whoever we please within a very specific constraint—sexy. Now, let it be known, this is not promoting “slut-shaming.” This argument is not against women who choose to dress provocatively; it is an argument against perpetuating objectification for no other reason than to excuse objectification with a holiday “tradition.”
Without divulging into the history of Halloween and all that jazz, in the Western world it is generally accepted as a time of year where individuals dress up in costumes, throw parties, carve pumpkins, and eat an insane amount of sugar. Costumes can range from common professions, beloved characters, super heroes, monsters, and of course, fantasies. Over the past few years, an unsettling trend in women’s costumes has grown to a near epidemic status. It would appear that for a woman to purchase a Halloween costume, she must wear one designed in a manner as provocative as humanly possible. Again, let me emphasize that I have no issue with what a woman chooses or chooses not to wear. However, when I walk into a Halloween costume emporium and have to choose between something baring my midriff, something baring my chest, or something so short I’d show my vagina if I dared to sit down, that is a sign of a societal problem. The issue here isn’t that women are dressing provocatively; the issue is that highly sexualized costumes seem to be our only option. Are there exceptions to this rule? Of course. Unfortunately, exceptions are in the vast minority.
It is true that men and women’s clothing must be tailored differently simply because we’re built differently. (See: Boobs and Hips) However, please take notice of the photo above. The costume to the right is a familiar Michael Myers costume inspired by the Halloween series. The costume to the left is the female version of the exact same character. That purple catsuit is supposed to be a costume of the babysitter killer boogeyman. If you look, you’ll notice an absence of a mask (because it’s a graphic on the back), a tighter fitting form, a more revealing top towards the breasts, and a set of “fuck-me” pumps. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure Laurie Strode could have knocked the block off of “Michelle Myers”. The first image showcased in this article is the increasingly popular “Mrs. Krueger” “Miss Chucky” “Miss Voorhees” and “Lady Leatherface” costumes, the female counterparts of the iconic slashers. I understand wanting to add femininity to a masculine look, but why does femininity must equate to revealing?
Perhaps the most alarming aspect of women’s Halloween costume is how early the sexualization begins. I won’t even post some of the ridiculous things posted about children’s costuming, but please read above the description of a “teen” costume. Teen as in “more than likely too young to consent to sex”. The description says “…whimsical and girly but you are all grown up now so why not find out if big boys like to play with dolls!” Um. What? This sounds like something out of a kiddie-porn chat session. Remember, this costume is geared towards girls between the ages of 13-18, geared towards women who can’t vote or in some instances drive or see an R-Rated movie without the help of mom and dad…and the costume industry is trying to make these young children “sexy.” The most screwed up part about all of this is that we are still living in a country where lawyers will ask rape victims what they were wearing and then tell them they could have prevented their rape had they dressed differently, and yet women are still socially expected to dress like this on Halloween.
“BUT MEN ARE OBJECTIFIED TOO!” No. Stop right there. Yes, there will be some skimpy and/or tight fitting costumes here and there, but the overwhelming majority of men’s costumes are fully covered or detailed replications of existing characters. After walking through a Spirit Halloween store, I could count on my fingers how many “sexualized” male costumes there were. Hell, even the ones that exist are there are clearly for the empowerment of the man and not for the female gaze. The “sexy” costumes will either be ridiculously jokey with some sort of visual reference to a penis on the exterior of the costume, or the costume will be nothing specific. Many of the “sexy” male costumes are just different colored boxers, sometimes with a set of suspenders. The costume above is meant to be funny. There’s a reason the “Dick In A Box” video got so many hits, and it’s not because it was sexually appealing to see Andy Sandburg gift wrap his junk. It’s humorous, and it’s an excuse for men to be sexually forward. In the world of Halloween costumes, men can do whatever they want. But if a woman doesn’t dress completely risque, she’s “doing it wrong”. This is a huge problem and unfortunately, because we keep dishing out the dough for these costumes, it’s a problem that isn’t going to be resolved anytime soon.
I cannot stress again that I have no qualms with women who decide to dress sexy for Halloween, I do it, I love to do it. It makes me feel good about myself. The problem is that women aren’t allowed to make that decision. Dressing sexy is our only option. Unless we make a costume by hand or forego the costumes all together and wear street clothes, women are forced to pick through the aisles of costumes with hemlines growing shorter and tops squeezing tighter. We need options, we need choices, and unfortunately for us, the only decisions we get to make in Halloween costume selection is whether or not we’re showing leg or breast this season.