Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Halloween Post-Mortem


Don't you just love it when someone puts in print exactly what you've been thinking? Well, what we've all been thinking? Take Halloween. . . and women's costumes. . . Just the other day I was having a conversation with another woman about how no matter which costume you choose, you're ultimately going as a sexpot.

And, then, I come home to my copy of New York Magazine, where in an article entitled, "Halloween Is For Lovers," a male friend of the authors, named Chris, is quoted as saying, "'Women should wear anything with a short skirt and nylons. . . . Nurse, witch, angel, janitor--it's all the same costume, just different colors.'"

He's right. It really doesn't matter if you're a pirate or a wench, a dominatrix or a nun, you'll pretty much look the same.

The writers, "Em & Lo," weigh in:
Em thinks sexy costumes are only slightly less annoying than those Axe Bodyspray commercials and are for women who are too chickenshit to dress provocatively the rest of the year. Lo, on the other hand, sees nothing wrong with a holiday that sanctions a little light role-playing for everyone. . . .
My question is: Are our costumes designed to attract men, or are we, ourselves, chomping at the bit for a bit of exhibitionism, playing out a playful fantasy on our own? Are we slutting it out for others or ourselves, or do we no longer know the difference?

19 comments:

PalmTreeChick said...

Last year I was "Mom Jeans." There was nothing slutty about that.:) Definitely NOT something I aspire to look like either.

Anonymous said...

Does it matter? Maybe some of us are too shy to role-play or dress provacatively, but want to do it, so Haloween provides that opportunity. Or, maybe we want to dress to be attractive to men (or women) but work in a profession or live in a culture where we can't... except on Halloween. Really, I think the same applies to any costume- for the day we want to be a vampire or political figure or cartoon character. Or a slut.

Alyssa said...

The problem is that it's yet another expectation that women AND GIRLS should ONLY be sexy. We were talking on another blog about little girls' costumes, and how even those are sexy and flirty. The boys' costumes are things like fire fighters, pilots, astronauts, etc. While the girls' have titles like "Major Flirt," which is a military costume with a short skirt, for 6 year-olds!
I have no problem with role-playing, and with women wanting to be sexy, as long as it is on their own terms. But costume makers don't really give us a choice.
I decided that next year I'm going as a REAL nurse; wearing scrubs with blood stains, sensible shoes, carrying a bedpan, and overworked!

Anonymous said...

I was appalled at the costume selection when I went shopping. Every damn thing was "Sexy ____" (i.e. nurse, surgeon, secretary) It was absurd! If you want to be sexy, go for it, more power to you, but why are these the only mass-produced options?

I am sickened by the "Major Flirt" costume mentioned by alyssa. It's a huge pet peeve of mine that we sexualize little girls. Gross! Can't kids be kids, especially on Halloween?

I also think alyssa has the right idea by creating her own realistic costume.

Ashley said...

I totally side with Alysaa on this one. I'm not going to sit here and say that I am totally against sexy costumes for Halloween, because I'm not. I see nothing wrong with an adult woman, and I mean adult (not kids or even teen) wanting to dress sexy and role play for this time of year. But what bothers me is that is has become SO TRENDY to be sexy/slutty. It's one thing to be 24 years old and want to dress up in a hot costume for your boyfriend, but it's a whole other ball game when all these 16 year olds think it's okay for them to dress up like naughty nurses at Halloween parties, and not just a few of them, nearly all of them. It's sickening to me, and yet it's so socially normal nowadays. Ugh.

Spectra said...

I didn't see the "Major Flirt" costume, but that's disgusting. 6 year old little girls should not be dressing that way, even on Halloween. I get kind of annoyed with the whole "Sexy ____" costume thing too. It's as if women are only there to show off their bodies and that's all they're good for. I don't have a problem with people that do want to dress up as a sexy nurse or whatever, but what about if you don't feel comfortable showing off your body like that? I know I wouldn't have a problem dressing in thigh highs and a bustier for my husband in the bedroom, but going to a party dressed like that would be another story.

Miss Janey said...

Hmm... Here in the LA area, we had a variety of costumes available: slutty, sexy, scary and even age appropriate for kids. No doubt there were some that were innappropriate as well. But isn't up to PARENTS to guide their daughters to appropriate garb? And if women don't WANT to be a sexy vampire, then certainly there are abundant other choices. For the record, Miss J thinks the "sexy" witch, vampire, etc., costumes are lame. Thus she always creates her own. Something anyone is capable of doing if they feel exploited by the mass-made get-ups being fed them by costume makers. And for those women who want to dress slutty, what difference does it make WHO they're doing it for as long as they're over 18?

cggirl said...

Oh my a sexy costume for a six year old truly is sickening. Where are her parents?!!

As for the rest of it - I guess I've led a sheltered existence. I've always made costumes, and most people I know did the same.
And now, maybe because I'm in a creative field, most people I konw still do.
This halloween i went to a work party where most people were various animals, vaious clever ideas that u don't recognize till someone explains it to u, random things like period costumes or inanimate objects, etc. And a lot of it was carefully home made.
I still see the occasionaly store bought slutty costume but it's the exception, not the rule, and is seen more as something funny and ironic...

Also, i can't BELIEVE someone genuinely trying to look sexy can find anything flattering and properly fitting in those store bought costumes. I guess I shouldn't say cuz i never tried them on, but they are all these cheap fabrics and shapes that do nothing to flatter most figures and i seriosuly doubt they come in any realistic variety of sizes. i could be wrong, like i said, it never occurred to me to wear anytihng except my own clothes.
So if i'm trying to look sexy I wear my own sexy clothes... but that's just an sidenote.

Anyway, i was always like "what?! who BUYS a costume?" My hommade costumes kick those store bought costumes' asses.

Beth said...

Who says it's slutty to wear revealing clothes on occasion? It's definitely for attention!

Femaleclaws said...

=/ We don't celebrate Halloween where I am (Singapore) but I do like to look at the costumes they have online. And they've been getting shorter and smaller, and targeting younger and younger women and girls... I mean, why is sexy French maid and nurse costumes being made for 7-12 year olds? Something's seriously wrong with that.

On that note, I do think that the line has been blurred - women say they dress up for themselves, because they wanna feel sexy but why should sexy mean revealing? Granted, even *I* think like that too and its something so hard to break out of - but I don't dress like that. I'm a little on the conservative side, though I do often wonder if I'm "old fashioned" or "mature and a little more sensible."

Wicked Child said...

Last year I was a ninja, a costume that covered everything but my eyes. I still had creeps flirting with me. Men don't care what you wear -- if they want to hurt you, they'll find an excuse.

Anonymous said...

"I have no problem with role-playing, and with women wanting to be sexy, as long as it is on their own terms. But costume makers don't really give us a choice."

We DO have a choice! Whatever happened to making our own costumes? When I was a kid I was NEVER something as silly as "Major Flirt".

LG said...

I help out with a church youth group and they have a Halloween party every year. The youth pastor makes it clear that he doesn't want to see anyone wearing revealing costumes. It worked out pretty well this year - we had characters from "Grease", some Ninja Turtles (ok - one of the ninja turtles' tights were wayyy too tight), and some inventive sumo wrestlers, nerds, etc. One girl even came as "static cling" - she backcombed her hair and pinned socks and dryer sheets to her clothes!

I could tell that some of the girls were trying to be as attractive as possible in go-go boots or princess dresses, but everyone was...er...covered.

On the other hand, I was in a lingerie store a few days before Halloween, and there were girls trying on sexy nighties for a party they were going to go to! Good grief.

Tim S. said...

Last week I read an article in Newsweek that was on this very topic: "Eye Candy" http://www.newsweek.com/id/62474?GT1=10450

Creepy to say the least.

(If the link doesn't show up, just search google for newsweek and "eye candy" )

Alyssa said...

Thanks, Tim!

Yeah, pretty da*n scary.

WifeMomChocoholic said...

I like to dress up in fairly sexy garb on halloween (though this year I was Mickey Mouse). However, I was rather appalled to see that just about every girl in my dd's fourth grade class was dressed as a "sexy vampire", sexy pop star, sexy witch, and even the Major Flirt costume mentioned. Even my dd's angel costume was...er...form fitting.

Tim S. said...

I think it is important to differentiate an adults choice to dress a certain way, and a child's "choice". If an adult wants to dress a certain way....go for it! A child...not as much.

Kristen said...

I was complaining loudly last year about this to anyone who would listen! I just think it's so boring to buy a sexy pirate/nurse/vampire costume. Uncreative. There are so many of those out there that it's almost sexier not to wear one.

I just found your blog. LOVE it.

pangsofbeaut said...

"Who says it's slutty to wear revealing clothes on occasion? It's definitely for attention!"

i'm having a real issue with this idea that 'revealing' or tight clothes makes you a slut. i'm pretty sure that short skirts have nothing to do with your sexual exploits.

i had never worn a skirt above my knee when i arrived to college. my first night there, my freshman dorm roommate whipped out a tiny mini and we trotted to a few frat parties. she was a virgin slurping a few beers and flashing plenty of leg. she went home about 2 in the morning. guyless. slut? no.

so when will clothes just be clothes?

in rape trials, the victim's outfit isn't even submissable in court. coincendence? i don't think so.

i'm tired of hearing guys say 'she's asking for it' b/c of her dress. really? looking sexy and feeling confident is an actual screaming neon sign 'all guys please f**k me stupid!' ... hmmm i don't think so.

the point of sexy clothes is so, in the words of nelly furtado, 'You either want to be with me, or be me!'

as far as the 'slutty' kids clothes go...

i looked at them. there are no plunging necklines. or skirts that bare little butt cheeks. corsets are conveyed as sexy in conventional times but were merely a piece of clothing in another time period. worn indeed by lil girls. the corset isn't pulled tight with breasts bared. more skin is shown when lil girls wear bathing suits, ballet practice clothes, tank tops, and gymnast leotards. do i think little girls should be sexualized? no. do i think you're blowing it out of proportion? yes

concerning the actual costumes...
as an exotic dancer, i've seen all the costumes there are. and own more than most girls have ever worn. i've seen how guys react to these 'outfits'. i've seen 'amateurs' (aka drunk girls who come in the club and are talked into dancing topless to two songs. guys scream and yell and the girls giggle and stumble and cover their face in slight embarrassment mouthing to each other 'omg!'). did they climb on stage for themselves? did they even go to the club for themselves? probably not.

a lot of female 'performance' is for the sake of males. and if you honestly feel no negative effects for doing so, then i suppose i don't see the problem.

sexy costumes are a choice. it's one night. every girl i've talked to about it and who engages in it thinks it's fun and innocent. as long as it stays that way, go for it.

maybe this discussion should be less about the choice of costume, and more about why we have a problem with it...