Women’s Halloween Costumes – A Reflection
Every year I see the same articles, shaming sexy Halloween costumes or celebrating women for avoiding sexy Halloween costumes. There’s pieces about men trying on ladies sexy Halloween costumes and pieces shaming the new array of sexy costumes each year (which are, occasionally, valid, like this Sexy Ebola Nurse costume. Too far? Yeah probably).
And every year, it makes me so angry that men and women alike continue to shame those women who choose these costumes, who post on Facebook about how they’d never wear such ‘slutty’ costumes (don’t get me started on my issues with the word ‘slutty’) and how they go as Rosie the Riveter, a suffragette, Tina Fey or something else awesomely feminist.
As a card carrying feminist myself, I decided to honour an icon of feminism this Halloween and donned a Rosie the Riveter costume – because it’s sassy and awesome and because I wanted to. Of course, I still wanted to look cute and did my make up accordingly. Why? Because I like looking good, thank you very much!
But while wearing my Rosie the Riveter costume, I thought a lot about what Rosie stood for. Aside from her obvious place as a feminist icon, she was a beacon of hope, strength and proof that women could do anything men could do. She was smart, sassy and strong in her coveralls and red bandanna. She’s exactly what I want to be (although personally, I prefer skirts over coveralls, but that’s just me.)
What I also thought about is why women wear sexy costumes and how far we’ve come in society where a woman CAN wear such little clothing and not be arrested or sent home to her parents, shamed for what she’s done.
The image of Rosie was part of that movement, the movement that gave women the rights we all take for granted today, as well as the rights we continue to fight for. Without Rosie and all the women who came both before and after her, I wouldn’t be able to walk alone after dark, I wouldn’t have two university degrees, I wouldn’t have a job that I can keep, even if I get married or have a baby and (and this is something I think we often forget), I wouldn’t be able to wear whatever I goddamn please, both on Halloween and any other day of the year.
Of course, even I have my limitations on ‘sexy’ costumes. I’ll never appreciate a sexy nun, ever, but everything else is fair game.
As I mentioned earlier, I like being able to wear what I want on Halloween and it to not look out of place in a sea of other women (and men) doing the exact same thing. I love seeing the way people choose to express themselves and the characters they create.
Having said that, what I personally look for in a costume is sassy, not sexy, (personal preference!) and I lament the extreme lack of options for women who don’t want to (for whatever reason), wear a crop top and booty short version of a nurse/pirate/Disney princess/etc. This would apply double if I lived in the Northern Hemisphere, where Halloween takes place in the freezing cold.
On CostumeBox, Australia’s biggest online costume retailer, they sort their Halloween costumes into ‘sexy’ and ‘elegant‘, which suggests that if you want to show some skin, you immediately loose all ability to be a lady… and even then, if you take a look at their elegant costumes, they all show off mega cleavage. So for those women looking to cover up, well they better hope they be crafty!
What I want to see is more sassy, fun and hilarious costumes for women mixed in with all the sexy ones, so that every woman feels amazing on Halloween, regardless of how much or how little clothing she’s wearing. There is a huge gap in the market and one that desperately needs to be filled.
Mean Girls told us that Halloween was the only day in the calendar where a girl could dress like a slut and no other girls could say anything about it. Replace ‘slut’ (because remember, I don’t like that word) with ‘in whatever the hell she wants’ and I hope one day this applies to every day of the year. No girl should ever feel shame for how she expresses herself with the way she dresses and that applies double when she dons a costume and puts on an alter ego on Halloween.
So next Halloween, be whoever you want to be and remember that everyone else is just doing the same thing. Because isn’t that half the point of dressing up in costumes?