If you’ve read any of this blog, you know I’m a huge fan of personal expression and choice. Around this time of year, out come the claws regarding womens’ Halloween costumes. The sheer amount of vitriol is amazing.
I truly appreciate projects like Take Back Halloween. If you haven’t heard of them, seriously check them out. They’re full of awesome costume ideas and patterns that differ from the “sexy watermelon” trope. I am so happy that this dialogue can happen, and that there’s pushback against the mass-produced polyester monstrosities of lazy costuming. I get that there’s pressure to be a sexualized being on Halloween, and I’m happy that there’s a refuge for those who prefer more modesty.
But I don’t think that revealing costumes are really the problem. The problem is choice. And I think the biggest problem with the current status quo is that gender-specific versions of the same costume are so wildly different, not that there’s anything inherently wrong with Leg Avenue.
Please, bear with me. What, exactly, is wrong with slutty costumes? Is it that there is exposed skin? If you’re against that, please never go to the beach or a swimming pool ever again. Sincerely, non-hypocrites.
Is it the appropriation of things that were never intended to be sexual and sexualizing them, particularly since one gender is overwhelmingly expected to engage in this appropriation? Hmmm, I think we’re closer to the mark.
So, in my typically Irritable-Don-Quixote fashion, my costumes have tended toward the intentionally scanty, but powerful. This year, it’s Nidalee from League of Legends . There are some things about her that aren’t particularly empowered. But they kind of pale against the whole badass woman with a spear killing you from the jungle deal. There are no high heels involved. The costume allows me to run, jump and climb trees with abandon if I feel like it. (This past week I’ve been in a wrestling contest and a scavenger hunt that involved lots of running and climbing. Also piggyback races.) And, it happens to be that there’s not a ton of fabric involved. I personally think that should be a section for Take Back Halloween — empowered women who happen to not like to wear a lot of clothes. (And men, for that matter, but that’s a whole different kettle of canned worm-fish.)
Why isn’t this more of a thing? If you are concerned about modesty and don’t like showing skin, I respect that choice. And, as I said above, I’m glad there’s projects rising up to combat the rising tide of lingerie-costumes in stores. But if, like me, you view the human body as a work of art, how’s about we take a stand as well? Being sexy DOES NOT MEAN being un-empowered. It’s temping to start my own project, and make patterns for fully actualized, powerful women who don’t feel the need to be modest.
The only way there can be actual equality is respecting personal choices. It shouldn’t be “women with imagination vs. all the rest of you slut-dolts.” It shouldn’t be cover up or you’re a terrible person, be you male or female.
Of course, I’ve talked a lot about taking back the power of scantily clad women, but the slutty costumes we have now have a place, too. While the current stranglehold they have on the market is bad, it wouldn’t make sense to try and eradicate them completely. Is it OK to take something like Dora the Explorer or a fire hydrant and make slutty Halloween costumes? Eh, I can’t really stop you. I think those sorts of things should be really niche as a weird joke, and not so mainstream as they are now, but it’s your body and your choice.
Modesty isn’t the only thing at stake here, folks. It’s perception, objectification, and equality. If you love the stripper-chic and enjoy that imbalance of power on Halloween, hey, I’m not going to judge you. If you want to strut your stuff as a manly slutty watermelon, that should be cool, too. Marketing shouldn’t be gender specific, it should be self-perception specific. It would fix so many problems that we face if the revealing and non-revealing versions of costumes were marketed as gender neutral, and if the costume paradigm shifted toward empowerment in general, not toward simply having more cloth.
And is it all just reading too much into something that’s supposed to be all in good fun? Definitely. But it’s the little battles. Plus, if I have to hear another person drooling over “all these terrible sluts, gosh I wish they’d just be ladies like they should be. Be right back, I’m going to my room to, uh…. ponder how terrible they all are…” I might have to falcon punch someone in the throat.
Edit: I realize I forgot to put an actual picture. I don’t have a straight-up shot of my whole costume, but here’s the best photo I have. And yeah, I’ve lost my visible abs. Dealwithit. I’ll update to a better picture if I get one in amid all the dancing and running and jumping around.