It seems I’ve put my travelogues on hold to comment on Halloween costumes. I already posted this week about whether Halloween costumes are racist or not if you wear one of an Arab sheikh or a Mexican farmer of 100 years ago, brought on by the STARS campaign against racism out of Ohio University. While I agree that some costumes are in poor taste, I don’t agree that dressing up as another ethnic group, in a historical, cultural context is necessarily bad nor disrespecting. Halloween is often about being what you’re not.
As I’m working on my own costume for Halloween (which could offend the French for all I know because of its historical context) I wandered into a Halloween costume shop and was a bit stunned to see what range of cheap costumes they had for women. Going to a few sites supports that the latest greatest fashion for women involves sex oozing out of every woven fiber.
Fairy tales have always been popular costumes, such as the characters of Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, witches, fairies, as well as superheroes, pirates, barmaids and fortune tellers. But something has happened to the costumes in the past few years. They’re almost all like hooker costumes (if you’re buying one). Men of course can wear full outfits but look at these following costumes, every skirt is short, stockings and garters and high heels. Tops are tight and cleavage abounding. Go to any major costume site on the internet and these images are there. The percentage varies but it’s as high as 90% sex costumes on some sites. Others might have other costumes for women but they’re still few. Really, if someone went to a prostitute some would have these very outfits for roleplaying scenarios. And I should mention that almost all superheroes are drawn with godly perfect proportions, and men and women are put into skin-tight affairs.
I’m not against sex or sexuality. Sex not only sells but it is indeed part of the human psyche. An animal’s need to procreate is strong in all creatures and we are just the human animal. However, when every costume becomes just another way to oversexualize a woman I do have to wonder. If I wear a full length costume, as I did for Little Bo Peep, am I not sexy? Should it even matter if I’m sexy? We’ve been inundated so much with the sex kitten image that we don’t even blink at it anymore and to me that’s more troublesome than if I dress up as someone from Mao’s army.
But that might just be me and in some ways, none of this is new. Way back when I was still in college and working at a local TV station as a stills photographer one of the directors had a party. It might not have been even for Halloween but it was costumed; you were supposed to come as a movie star. Well, not all the women wore sexy outfits but many of them did. Going against the tide, I donned a western shirt, cowboy hat and eyepatch. I stuffed a pillow in the shirt and practised my John Wayne voice and swagger. Even so, in the very crowded party, women would squeeze up to some man as I tried to get past and would glare at me as if I was “stealing their man.”
Maybe it really is all about territories. I just really hope that women don’t have to be sex kittens 24/7. But for Halloween, well it really is about what you’re not so there you go, sexy outfits and with the popularity of zombies at the moment I guess some of these will become dead sexy.