Well, it’s that time of year again. The leaves are falling, the pumpkin spice is a-flowin’, and people are starting to deck the halls with decorative gourds and chunky knit blankets. Fall is certainly a popular season, characterized by over-sized sweaters, hot beverages, and spooky vibes, courtesy of its hallmark event—Halloween.
However, along with Halloween comes the more problematic arrival of promiscuous Halloween costumes. Although Halloween is enjoyed by kids with trick or treating and dressing up for fun, adults love it too, and there seems to be a certain trend that predominantly skews towards women—that of the inappropriate Halloween costume.
And I get it. Life can be mundane and a bit of a bore, so the thought of dressing up for one night a year as something wild is kind of alluring. However, the trend of revealing costumes seems to tap into something a little more curious. Why be a cat when you can be a HOT CAT? Why be a witch when you can be a SCANTILY CLAD witch? Why be Mr. Rogers when you can be a SULTRY… wait, what!?
The topic of inappropriate Halloween costumes and their place in our culture comes up yearly. This year the conversation was sparked by the Mr. Rogers costume being offered by controversial online retailer Yandy. The “Nicest Neighbor” costume takes Mr. Rogers’ signature cardigan, tie, and postman pants and runs them through a filter of provocation, boiling them down to their most noticeable parts and leaving little else to the imagination. The sweater is cropped, pants converted to hotpants, and accessorized with lacy socks and puppets because, hey, what’s a hot Halloween costume without the weird addition of infantilizing grown women?
Now you can probably tell that these sorts of costumes aren’t my favorite. Perhaps it’s the mom in me or the fact that I’m from Canada and the thought of donning a pair of booty shorts at the end of October seems less than practical. These costumes evoke a strange blend of emotions in my chest that gives me the urge to chase these women down and give them a sweater and a cup of hot chamomile tea.
Now, as a mother of a daughter and a woman myself, I do consider myself a feminist, and I tend to have a “live and let live” kind of attitude. I honestly believe that women should be able to wear what they want to wear and feel sexy in any way that they choose. I just can’t help the fact that these costumes that take something somewhat innocuous and turn it into a very seductive caricature kind of give me the heebie-jeebies. This is especially true when it’s playing on the whole “sexy woman child” vibes that for some reason crops up all over the place, especially at Halloween.
Regardless of how we feel about these costumes, it’s clear that they aren’t going anywhere. They have what it takes to grab attention and go viral, and really, any attention is good attention when it comes to retailers (if we take a little trip down memory lane, “sexy Ebola nurse” was one of the offerings in the past for seductive Halloween fare). Despite the fact that there are definite problematic issues with these costumes, my assumption is that people aren’t forcing women to wear them, which means there is a market for them.
What they mean for women or for society at large is really a more complicated and loaded question.