Ah, that time of year again. Gone are the “bikini-body” workouts being flaunted in every magazine, newspaper and bathroom stall scrawl, enter the confectionary-filled holiday season which begins at the end of October. Not that anyone has told the local Tesco, who have been stocking selection boxes since before schools went back last month. Yes kids, the one time of year where it is not only socially acceptable, but rubber stamped okay to ask strangers for sweets and accept them from them without feeling creeped out or violated in any way.
Unless you’re a woman.
I got looking at costumes last week, initially for the small man, as given my likely plans to stay in and hope the toddler doesn’t stay up all night are good to go mean I won’t need one for myself, but after a bit (and after seeing the perfect one for him five minutes into my search), I found it rather interesting to check out the selection of costumes available for women. Oh, they’re scary alright, but not in an intended way, one would be likely to think.
Slutty costumes aren’t exactly news when it comes to Halloween. Great quotable cinematic gem, “Mean Girls” summed it up in Cady’s monologue regarding the holiday with
In the real world, Halloween is when kids dress up in costumes and beg for candy. In Girl World, Halloween is the one day a year when a girl can dress up like a total slut and no other girls can say anything else about it.
I can’t hand on heart state that I’ve never embraced this part of the festivities; as a carefree college student there were some ill-judged costumes involving tutus and quite a lot of facepaint, while still managing to make myself look demure in comparison to some of the friends I was going out with. That was, I thought, my choice – I was young, confident in how I looked and had decided this was to be my costume for whatever theme night we were headed to. My choice. From my research for a potential follow up costume, in case the toddler decides he has other plans with cooler people, that choice seems to have been taken away from me (and every other woman) if she chooses to go down the store-bought costume route.
There are things that have been sexed up that I never thought could or would have been. Like Crayola crayons. Oompa Loompas (otherwise known as “Sexy Factory Worker”). Luigi (The plumber from Mario, after undertaking a sex change, also known as “Sexy Plumbers Mate”). Even a rather slutty looking Mummy. Not a scare in sight (apart from the prices).
Any genuinely scary costumes are made for male proportions, not ladies. Where ladies are given a short skirt, a tight top and some accessories to make it relatable to the intended costume, men are fully covered in trousers, long sleeves and accessories – apparently if you’re a man, it isn’t a sexy holiday.
Incredibly, the costumes for the same “job role” differ quite a bit when you put the two options beside each other. Take SWAT cops – I managed to find both a female and a male version of the costume. There is quite a difference in the focus of the costume – the mens one is clearly intended to just be seen as a SWAT costume; the girls costume has quite another message altogether.
To make matters worse, this trend starts early. It isn’t just adult sizes that are erring towards the side of sexy; there are some eyebrow raising costumes in the “teens” section starting from 12-14. I’m not sure how many parents would allow their daughter out of the house in some of them given their likeness to the over sexualised costumes aimed at more mature women (or, in some cases, strippers) – just because it comes with tights, it doesn’t mean the costume is any less sexualised. With titles like “Cop Cutie” and “Miss Dee Meanour”, not to mention the rather questionable “Tin Heartthrob” (this one doesn’t even have the tights…) it’s obviously pushing towards a costume to make the wearer more attractive to others, not exactly inciting any form of terror – apart from that of their parents who are wondering what has happened to their 12 year old child that she’s wanting to wear this, and vowing to wrap her in big coats to block all view of skin.
Are we so blind to our over sexualisation of teenage (and tween) girls that these things are considered acceptable? A holiday based around children dressing up to “scare” others into giving them a treat, in my opinion, shouldn’t have any interest in making a young girl “cute”, “sexy” or a “heartthrob”. Let kids be kids – and clothes be clothes. Why is it that men get to be warmer? As a girl who is 5ft 0, I can hand on heart say that its unlikely that I’ll find a male-fit costume that I’ll manage to get to fit, never mind look good. Yet in my more sober, more grown up mode, I’m unable to justify to myself the ridiculously short skirt and stockings. I leave the whole thing to the ladies of Mean Girls – they may be in Girl World, but at least I’m comfy. If alone, at home, with nothing to dress up for.
This isn’t a new epidemic, it’s been one I’ve seen over the last few years but never really paid too much attention to. I just find it such a shame that the choice is taken away. By all means, if you want to wear a costume that shows off your assets and makes you attractive towards the object of your affections, go right ahead, I won’t be stopping you. I’d just like the option to try something else as a woman, and such options are few and far between. For the moment, I think my toddler companion may be a better option for this year.
What do you think about costumes available for women? Do you think the tween/teen costumes are appropriate for the age group? Am I over-reacting or do I have a point? Let me know in the comments!