It’s that time of year again. Halloween, my favourite holiday, will be here in just two days. It’s a time for jack-o-lanterns, scary movies, treats and maybe a few tricks. It’s also a time when many women decide that they can wear the sluttiest outfit they can think of and “get away with it.” In 2004 the movie Mean Girls finally came up with a succinct explanation of this phenomenon. Lindsay Lohan narrates,”In the regular world Halloween is when children dress up in costumes and beg for candy. In girl world Halloween is the one night of the year when a girl can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.” And there you have your explanation. Many women look at Halloween as their one opportunity to dress up in bustiers and stockings with garter belts and show off as much T and A as possible. And why wouldn’t they? We live in a society where any woman who dares to wear a short skirt or a low cut top is often branded a slut. If Halloween is a time to dress up in something that you wouldn’t normally wear (because everyone knows that women never buy sexy lingerie) then why not dress up in skimpy clothing?
I take issue with the idea that Halloween is a time when women can and should wear sexy costumes. My first issue relates to what I said earlier, that any woman who dares to show some skin at any other time of the year is seen as taboo or slutty. If a woman is feeling particularly sexy or just feels more attractive in a tight dress then she should feel free to wear it and not be restricted to only wearing sexy clothes on one day out of the entire year. I am aware that the kind of sexuality on display at Halloween is usually a hypersexual image of femininity but I still believe that it’s a result of society’s restrictive beliefs about women and sexuality.
So does this mean that I think all women should wear corsets and knee high boots every October 31st? Not really. You can if you want and I admit that it can be fun to dress up. Heck, one year I even fell prey to the lure of the sexy Halloween costume and decided to be a sexy nurse. I wore a short white pleather nurse’s uniform, white stockings and garters and bright red sky high hooker shoes. I went to a club and strutted around and really enjoyed myself. However, I still think that there are better options for Halloween and here’s why.
First off, Halloween is supposed to be scary! What’s scary about a sexy nurse? Nothing. I could have dressed up as a nurse with blood splattered all over my uniform and a huge intimidating syringe in my hand. Now that would have been scary. But somehow scary has been replaced with sexy. My other issue with sexy Halloween costumes is practicality. I live in Canada. It’s freaking cold here. Most of my Halloweens growing up involved my mom forcing me to wear a winter coat over my costume. The point is, if you are going to be attending any kind of outdoor Halloween event a sexy costume doesn’t make any sense. I don’t care what anyone says, it’s simply uncomfortable and really, a half naked girl shivering in the cold is never sexy.
Also if we want to be honest about the situation, we have to admit that dressing sexy and owning your sexuality is not the same thing. There are too many women out there who dress sexy because they feel pressured and like they need to be on display. These are usually the same women who make out with each other in clubs not because they are gay or bisexual but because they want to tantalize the men around them. If you want to dress sexy, do it for yourself and because it makes you feel good. Don’t do it because you feel it’s the only way to get attention (trust me, that attention is negative).
There’s also an overabundance of sexy Halloween costumes. It used to be that there were only a few costumes that got a sexy twist, like the sexy nurse, sexy vampire or maybe a sexy witch. But now the sexy costume has expanded to just about every costume idea possible. One of my new favourite shows, Suburgatory, made a play on this when one teenage girl on the show had to explain that she was dressed as a “sexy mushroom” for Halloween. The Hairpin also made fun of this phenomenon by suggesting that women dress up as a “sexy smelly old gym sock” or a “sexy New York City subway rat.” Sadly I bet that particular article would actually be seen as a list of legitimate costume ideas for Halloween.
Although sexy Halloween costumes can be fun they really say to me that the person has a lack of imagination. Take for example, the idea of dressing up as Alice in Wonderland for Halloween. There are different ways that this costume could go. You could go as the Disney version of Alice, easily the most recognizable.
You could pull inspiration from the original drawings from the novel, although it’s pretty similar to the Disney illustration.
There’s also the new Tim Burton vision of Alice.
And yet when Alice lands in the hands of the sexy costume brigade, this is what happens.
It’s pretty predictable. Short skirt, stockings, cleavage. It’s not very original.
Now, here is what I would do if I were going to dress up as Alice in Wonderland. I wouldn’t just be Alice. I would be American McGee’s Alice.
I like this version because it’s based off a very creepy video game that has a different take on the story. And here Alice still has the blue dress and the white apron. She also wears army boots, is carrying a knife, has a bit of blood splattered on her and generally looks terrifying. Also I like that she is a brunette because that would mean that I don’t have to buy a wig.
That’s just one idea for a Halloween costume. Recently a new website launched called Take Back Halloween. It’s another response to the over abundance of just slapping the word “sexy” onto something and assuming that it’s a great costume. This website has a ton of unique costume ideas for women who are ready to hang up their platforms and corsets.
So the choice is yours. If you want to wear a sexy costume then go ahead and own it. If you are sick of sexy costumes then come up with something new and different. Either way, Halloween is one of the best holidays of the year so have fun!