My favorite time of year is when the cool crispness of fall settles around us. The leaves turn it up a notch with vibrant oranges and brownish reds, dancing towards the ground like feathers in the wind. Cozied up in sweaters and scarves, drinking spiked apple cider is a seasonal bliss we all should have the pleasure of experiencing.
Oh, and Halloween is where it’s at. I love it all, the decorations, the candy, the horror movie marathons, the candy, the cute kids’ costumes, the candy, the scary costumes, the candy.
But I have a major issue with Halloween that I don’t think I’ve discussed here.
Well, it’s not so much a Halloween problem as it is a social problem that utilizes Halloween for its outlet of all things misogynistic and objectifying. Yeah, I know. We’re going there again.
But, seriously… have you ever noticed the intense gender bias between men’s and women’s Halloween costumes? Even with an awareness of the world we live in, it’s surprising.
Women’s costumes are sooo different. Why?
You know what they say: sex sells. And body objectification has become a better selling point than accuracy, apparently. For instance, doctor costumes with the full doctor-y aesthetic are marketed to men and the sexy nurse with the padded bra, fishnet stockings and heels are marketed to young women.
Don’t even get me started on the whole school boy vs school girl theme.
Some of the worst offenders yet are classic horror movie characters: Chucky, Beetlejuice, Jason, Freddy, Pennywise. Nearly every adult women’s horror icon costume features a miniskirt or hotpants. They are distinctly more revealing than their male counterparts, and often barely resemble the character they’re supposed to be.
What do the decision-makers at these costume companies think? Are women too sensitive to wear monster costumes? Are we too weak to dress up as iconic serial killers? Are we simply too delicate to wear clothes? One thing is true, marketing gurus sure do have a knack for revealing ongoing social ideals; in this case, women are apparently only good for one thing.
Really? I mean, just, really? What the hell, people!? Freddy and Jason were never meant to embody sex appeal. No, just no.
I guess we should be glad that they at least put her in something that sort of resembles Chucky’s iconic overalls. I just don’t remember Chucky being this sexy. Oh, that’s right… because he wasn’t.
If you love Beetlejuice enough to dress up as the character for Halloween, wouldn’t you want to oh, I don’t know, look like Beetlejuice? I’m not sure what this is, but it’s not Beetlejuice.
Anyone who has seen and loved IT would be embarrassed by this travesty. Looks that kill? Not.
Now, I’m not saying this is the most tasteful costume for 2020, but still, if you like the whole plague doctor thing, what the hell is this!? She’s not even wearing a proper plague mask. How is she a plague doctor at all? Oh, it’s a cute costume, but there are no plague-y precautions going on and nothing to associate the wearer as a plague doctor.
In one ad for a costume based off of the 2007 horror film Trick ‘r Treat (excellent movie, by the way, I give it a thumbs up!), the men’s costume is, quite frankly, not good, but the women’s costume is a wildly inaccurate and sexualized interpretation of a horror character who in the film is a child. A demon child with a pumpkin head, yes, but a child, nonetheless.
The movie is anthology-style, where this kid, Sam, shows up to enforce the rules or traditions of Halloween. Dressed in raggedy orange footy pajamas and a burlap sack over his head, Sam appears across all the stories where macabre chaos ensues. Did I mention that it’s an excellent movie?
This woman, wearing a bright orange dress that cuts just below her butt, actually pulls the skirt up and out for the publicity shot. She has brown burlap-looking accents on the dress and a hood that sort of resembles the villain in the movie but looks more like a sexy scarecrow in someone’s field of dreams.
No one would ever put two and two together for this one. Again, if you love the movie so much that you want to dress as the character, why would you choose this monstrosity? (ha! see what I did there? it’s a monster movie and the costume is a monstrosity… get it?)
What would be so bad about an adult female wearing the raggedy footy pajamas with a sack mask over her head? Oh, that’s right. It wouldn’t show off her legs, lips, or breasts.
I’m tired of seeing costumes that feature characters like the female vampire slayer who looks more like a seductive vampire just itching to be slain than a fierce hunter herself.
Women who love horror movies want the full-on scary, gore-splattered costumes. Otherwise, what’s the point? I mean, yes, yes, I get the point, but come on! Can we please just rid ourselves of the miniskirt where it doesn’t belong? Or is that just too much to ask?
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Excellent write. I l<3ve Halloween and this is something that has always bugged the heck out of me.
When I first discovered the world of cosplay (after visiting a comics convention where a friend had a stall), it struck me how inventive a lot of the costumes were –
and if someone wanted to go off at a tangent, it would generally be with a particulsr look or vibe in mind. So if it didn’t look like the original, you got what it did look like or why (whether a 40s film noir Wonder Woman, a steampunk dalek or a Teletubby Dr Who).
There’s something cool about that kind of DIY fun.
Have enjoyed reading through a few articles here today (blog-wandering Brit raised watching Dr Who from behind the sofa).
A contrary view:
You know, there’s nothing stopping any woman from using a “male” costume. Of course I understand your point (don’t I always?). Our society is positively rife with double standards (and some cut the other way), but sometimes people just gotta cut loose. Some people (women AND men) enjoy dressing up for Halloween in ways that they would normally consider completely inappropriate. Sometimes their motives might be less than pure, sometimes they just want to have fun. I say this with tongue firmly planted in cheek, but I don’t want to live in a world where a woman cannot, of her own free will, dress any way she wants on Halloween. Even as a chaste Disney princess. Imagine a male version of that(!). Talk about scary… 😉
And I fervently hope that we can all have a “normal” Halloween next year. Stay safe.
These products are on the shelves because they sell. Retailers aren’t generally in the market to create trends, they follow those that are the most profitable. If the majority of women preferred less ‘revealing’ costumes, you can bet your bottom dollar that they would be more readily available.
It reminds me of a conversation I had with my daughter one evening when she complained about having sore feet after wearing high heels all day. I asked why on earth would she wear high heels if they made her feet hurt. My daughter is most definitely a feminist and her response kind of floored me. It was “because I feel good when I wear high heels”. We had a long conversation following this and as best I can understand, she feels more feminine when she’s in high heels and wearing makeup and when she’s wearing clothes that accent her figure although they may be uncomfortable and at time difficult not to reveal too much. Go figure.
We then got into a discussion about why women are permitted to reveal far more of their anatomy in formal and business situations than men are permitted to, but that’s a topic for another time 🙂
Agree. I’ve never understood why Halloween became the chance to dress as revealing as possible. I guess if you are going to break the basic rules of the christian religion and do full ghosts and devils, we might as well “go all the way.” Even so, does it have to be every costume?
As a 250-pound male in my 20’s, I once went to Halloween in my girlfriend’s playboy bunny costume (with high top tennis shoes). Worst night of my life. Dudes kept grabbing the tail. I had to go home before I got in a fight.