We have always been a dress up kind of family. My mom has spent hours meticulously constructing costumes. She makes the best witch noses ever and don't even get me started on her brilliant rendering of Lucy Little. I was Lucy Little. Button and all. Our costumes were creatively handmade. It's probably spoiled me. I still rummage through the racks at thrift stores for costume ideas, but I will also admit to browsing through the costumes online. Every year I "window" shop online looking at women's Halloween costumes and my heart grows a little heavy.Or maybe it's my butt that actually grows heavy.
While scrolling through costumes recently, I noticed the usual Sexy Nurse, Sexy French Maid, and even (finally) the Sexy Doctor (because you know, women can be doctors now too). Then I discovered there's a whole sexy animal list of costumes. And then there's the costumes that really have no rhyme or reason to them except to wear these crazy muppet fur boots with some fishnet stockings. Hell! Even Amelia Earhart has a new sexy look. Needless to say that it all not only discourages me, but I find myself conflicted. I want to be sexy. I want to wear a frilly short can-can skirt or skin tight ninja costume. I look through those costumes and think "I want to look sexy just like that". Then the reality sets in and I know that no matter what shape my body is in, I will not look anything like that sexy model in her sexy kitten costume. I lack the confidence. Put me in any one of those costumes and I will spend my evening tugging the skirt down while pulling the bodice up before finally giving up and borrowing someone's jacket. Not to mention that it's cold in October and I'd freeze.
This is not to say that I am not a sexy woman. Michael tells me I'm a sexy woman all the time. I have my moments. It's just that these costumes are not for me. So I start to wonder who these costumes are really for. I posted a link to a sexy skunk costume on facebook saying "What woman ever says 'Hey! I want to be a sexy skunk for Halloween!'?" and there was a comment left on that post that kind of stuck out. It was something about "one letter difference between 'skunk' and 'skank'". OK...now I find the idea of a sexy skunk to be ridiculous. I don't understand why all animals have to be sexy for Halloween. I think it's also ludicrous that Amelia Earhart has been turned into a sexified version of herself or that we can all be sexy My Little Ponies by wearing a maned hoodie with a mini skirt and platform shoes. But what about the woman who actually buys and wears this kind of costume? If she chooses to be any of those sexy whatever costumes, does that make her a skank or a slut or a whore?
I want to believe that a woman is wearing that sexy costume because she feels confident and good about herself. She has no ulterior motive in wearing it other than to say "Hey! I look good and I know it". In other words, she's wearing that costume for her and more power to her. Except I also know that it's human nature to seek out praise and validation and that even if she knows she looks good, she wants others to tell her she looks good. Most likely, women who buy these sexy costumes are buying into the idea that this is what her boyfriend/husband/potential sex partner wants to see. Let's face it. These costumes exist because men find scantily clad women attractive and Halloween is all about fantasy. If you scroll through the costumes available for men, you'll scroll through images of men fully covered in costumes ranging from Batman to cowboy. Eventually you'll pass by a sexy male cop, but for the most part the men costumes are just costumes, as opposed to sexy costumes.
Halloween is the new excuse for objectifying women through the over-sexualiztion of costumes. It's not fair to label girls "skanks" and "hoes" when our society teaches them that this is what is desirable or this is how they are supposed to dress. Because that's the same thing as saying that a girl is asking for rape when she wears a short skirt. What we should be demanding is that these costume companies stop putting ears and tails on underwear and trying to sell it as a "costume". We should be redefining the vision of "sexy" with realistic librarian, nurse, firefighter, Amelia Earhart (dangit!) costumes. Come on. You can't tell me that guys do not find female firefighters in full gear attractive. Jim James's vision of a sexy librarian is not the one wearing the short can-can skirt with glasses. Because real men, the kind worth having around, are the ones who know that smart and strong are sexy.
And that's what we need to be teaching our girls AND boys.