Join 3,561 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


"Whore-loween?"
October 30, 2010 9:36 AM   Subscribe

Frustrated by the limited costume ideas out there for women? Join in the increasingly loud backlash and ridicule for the "sexy" Halloween costume, now a major stock in trade at party stores. In a time when "Goldilocks, in a snug bodice and platform heels, gives the impression she has been sleeping in everyone’s bed" and "sexually active plaid children" are celebrated cultural icons, projects like Take Back Halloween are promoting costume ideas like Frida Kahlo and Hatshepsut as alternatives to the "skank suit." Bitch magazine chimes in with suggestions like Angela Davis and Peggy Hill. Voices in the feminist blogosphere are arguing for other approaches to the holiday that's all about alternate identity. Meanwhile, the Ms. blog wonders what sexy Halloween costumes for men might look like, and Jezebel solicits photo submissions featuring your least sexy costumes. Find and share more ideas via the Twitter hashtag #feministhalloween.
posted by Miko (150 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ms.Blog has obviously never been to a halloween party with gay men. This year I am going as Truman Capote. Sexy Truman Capote with a midriff shirt and pants as tight as sausage casings.

And no. I am not joking.
posted by munchingzombie at 9:44 AM on October 30, 2010 [33 favorites]


That Peggy Hill "costume" (mom jeans and 80s glasses) is de rigueur fashion in NYC right now I shit you not.

Funny enough, I have, for the first time, heard the flip side to the whole skanky-costume debate. It was from one of my classmates who was going out to Atlantic City for Halloween. She mentioned she was going to go as a sexy schoolgirl, got some derision (from guys and girls alike), and just punched back with the fact that this is the single time of year she can pull off doing something like that, in public, without feeling genuinely threatened. Considering everything I've heard from self-identified feminist women about dressing sexy (or skanky, if that's your point of view) -- that, among other things, it's not for men, or for anyone other but the person choosing to dress that way -- I can see her point. When else can a woman put on a hyper-stylized minidress and just go and have fun without getting the shit hassled out of her?
posted by griphus at 9:45 AM on October 30, 2010 [14 favorites]


Uh, that is not to say, of course, that (non-DIY) women's costumes are ridiculously limited in scope. Not every woman has the time or ability to put together a decent-looking costume on their own and they should not be forced to show themselves off if they want to get a costume off-the-shelf.

I worked at a erotica shop for a while that was well-stocked with role playing costumes, and when the Halloween costumes came in -- the same Halloween costumes that are sold in regular Halloween stores -- it was indistinguishable from the bedroom-only stuff we'd stock all year.
posted by griphus at 9:49 AM on October 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


Is it Halloween to blame here, or is just the status quo plus costumes? It seems to be the girls who would dress more suggestively for a regular night out to begin with who opt for the Sexy route. Alternatively, if an otherwise more reserved girl decides that Halloween is an excuse to sex it up without being instantly judged, shouldn't we say more power to her? I've always figured that if people (girls mostly, but guys could too if they so choose) wanted to go as "Sexy Jackie O" that was their choice and we probably shouldn't judge them for it, but it's not like going as "Regular Jackie O" would be a bad costume and there isn't any pressure to steer away from it. All this of course applies to men too (looking at you, Leonidas et al.)

I am extremely opposed to the sexualization of children's costumes though. They should divert their efforts to target this particular phenomenon.
posted by battlebison at 9:50 AM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


...aren't ridiculously limited in scope.
posted by griphus at 9:50 AM on October 30, 2010


This year, I toyed with the idea of responding to the Sexy [Whatever] Costume for women by dressing up as Sexy Albert Einstein.

In my vision, the Sexy Albert Einstein costume consisted of a too-small menswear shirt and tie, unbuttoned and loosened to show plenty of cleavage, a dowdy sweater or tweedy vest over that, a too-short skirt, clunky shoes, fishnets or stockings, a handheld chalkboard with equations (Miko's suggestion), and a big bushy white moustache to match my gray hair.

Last night, I even started gathering the components of the costume... and then I thought about how I would feel all night dressed up as "Sexy [Whatever]," even in a self-aware and humorous way. Even ironically dolling myself up as Sexy Albert Einstein as a commentary on common expectations is, to some extent, capitulating to those very expectations. By dressing as Ironically Sexy [Whatever], I would still be enacting the Sexy Rule and inviting assessment of my success or failure in meeting the standard of sexiness.

For me, the idea was delightful, but when I pictured myself explaining it all night (and self-identifying as "Sexy [Whatever]" every time), it seemed like something I'm not willing to endure, even as a joke.
posted by Elsa at 9:50 AM on October 30, 2010 [9 favorites]


Great! We have found another way to disparage women for expressing their sexuality.
posted by Jezztek at 9:54 AM on October 30, 2010 [24 favorites]


I'm conflicted between agreeing that these costumes are way unclassy, and being thankful that they provide a convenient filter to find the classy people.
posted by hanoixan at 9:54 AM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


When I was a RA at the university residence, it was my job to stay in on Halloween to give candy to the students before they head out for the night. Two years ago, a girl showed up in brown panties and a green bra and said she was a tree. I don't think this type of behaviour would have been possible without companies like Canada Goose who make down jackets warm enough to prevent hypothermia to people wearing minimalist costumes like this one. I blame the down manufactures--at least on the Eastern Seaboard--for this trend. In warmer climates, you'd have to find another scapegoat.
posted by reformedjerk at 9:55 AM on October 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Ayun Halliday as Frida Kahlo. And Ayun's daughter in probably my favorite costume ever.
posted by Sailormom at 9:56 AM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


My wife and I were going to go to this weekend's comic convention in our Maggie Chascarillo and Harvey Pekar costumes, but it turns out people in costumes don't get a discount at the door.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:56 AM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


My 'non sexy' costume is Marty McFly!
posted by darlingmagpie at 9:57 AM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is it just me or is this whole thing optional? There are lots of costumes out there that do not make your child look like a slut. And lots that are adult non sexy for woman. I suppose the prevalence does say something, but not enough for me to start a blog.
posted by Felex at 9:58 AM on October 30, 2010


Not every woman has the time or ability to put together a decent-looking costume on their own and they should not be forced to show themselves off if they want to get a costume off-the-shelf.

This. There just aren't other costumes available outside of the rental shops unless you've got time, money, and skill to DIY. Oh, and the eight inches of plastic miniskirt stuff costs the same as the men's costumes that'd actually keep you from freezing in late October weather.
posted by asperity at 9:59 AM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think I posted this link last year, but it's still hilarious: sexy witch, schoolgirl, pirate, French maid, etc. costumes for dogs.
posted by bewilderbeast at 9:59 AM on October 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


If you really want a #feministhalloween, go as Christine O'Donnell in a ladybug costume. That's solidarity!
posted by incessant at 10:02 AM on October 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Great post! But I could have really used the costume ideas a week ago :)
posted by jb at 10:03 AM on October 30, 2010


And lots that are adult non sexy for woman.

Maybe my experience is limited by the fact that I've only been to shops in Manhattan, but nine out of ten women's costumes at the shops are minidress-based. The one I saw that wasn't ("Evil Queen") had a neckline that was flattering only to a woman of a very specific bust size, not bigger or smaller.
posted by griphus at 10:05 AM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


As a Chinese man - clever costume choices sometimes feel limited. I once dressed up as Sexy Mao Tse Tung. Did not have the intended effect. A local artist took pictures of me for his personal collection. I am waiting for them to surface when I run for the local school board.
posted by helmutdog at 10:06 AM on October 30, 2010 [29 favorites]


if an otherwise more reserved girl decides that Halloween is an excuse to sex it up without being instantly judged, shouldn't we say more power to her?

I agree completely: if you're making a choice to dress sexily, then great! Enjoy! The problem comes when (as griphus points out above) nearly every option for off-the-shelf costumes for women is the revealing or provocative Sexy [Whatever], which has been the case in every sotume shop I've been in for the past few years, and which is reflected in the links above.

Homemade costumes aren't standardized, so a female DIY costume creator is of course able to make it sexy or not as she chooses. But the expectation we see reflected in the store-bought costumes exists and, in many cases, shapes how even DIY costumes are seen, both by the person crafting it and by the people viewing it. The Sexy expectation is out there.

Great! We have found another way to disparage women for expressing their sexuality.

Phew, you and I read those links quite differently. What I see disparaged there is the societal expectation that women ought to view and present ourselves primarily as sex objects, even (or especially) on Halloween, whether we're inclined to or not.

but it's not like going as "Regular Jackie O" would be a bad costume and there isn't any pressure to steer away from it.

The pressure, as you describe it, is in both the tacit expectation of one's peers and in the scarcity of not-sexy ready-made costumes.
posted by Elsa at 10:06 AM on October 30, 2010 [14 favorites]


I described my homemade costume to others as "sexy Rorschach" last year, and I am a feminist. Looking back on it, "Lady Rorschach" might have been more appropriate, as I was trying to gender bend the costume rather than trying to be sexual. I did feel a little defensive about it, and my first instinct was to say, "but every inch of me, save my face and hands (forgot my leather gloves at home) was covered." However, that makes me feel like I'm defending myself to the Morality Police, which is way squickier to me than describing myself as sexy something or other.

It is shitty that only one end of the gender identity continuum is widely represented in commercially produced Halloween costumes for women, and it is even shittier that women feel like their costume has to be sexy to be legitimate, but that end of the continuum should be just as acceptable as any other continuum point.

Anyway, I'm aiming for the other end of the continuum this year. Pics at 11.
posted by emilyd22222 at 10:09 AM on October 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Superhero dog costumes!
posted by asperity at 10:12 AM on October 30, 2010


Oh, man, next year I am totally going as Sexy Morality Police Officer.
posted by griphus at 10:15 AM on October 30, 2010 [15 favorites]


What would a sexy feminist costume look like?
posted by joeyjoejoejr at 10:17 AM on October 30, 2010


"sexy Rorschach"

Original Rorschach is a lot more provocative.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:17 AM on October 30, 2010


I suggest a full hijab to make the point that sexy is in the eyes
posted by The Lady is a designer at 10:21 AM on October 30, 2010


For sooooomeeee reason, I feel like the terms "whore-loween" and "skank suit" are not great for a post about feminist issues related to Halloween costumes.
posted by so_gracefully at 10:22 AM on October 30, 2010 [17 favorites]


I suggest a full hijab to make the point that sexy is in the eyes

Oh no not again
posted by griphus at 10:23 AM on October 30, 2010


One of these years I'll get my Sexy Jabba the Hutt costume together. But now that Alvy mentions it, I like idea of going as Sexy Harvey Pekar too.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 10:23 AM on October 30, 2010


sorry I didn't check MeFi yesterday ;p
posted by The Lady is a designer at 10:25 AM on October 30, 2010


For those who say it's tough to come up with a costume, here's a recipe using simple home ingredients:
1. normal comfortable clothes (or sexay, you decide!)
2. apron
3. fashion a chef's hat out of a white pillowcase (craftier people get fancy w/ white paper)
4. oven mit and some sort of kitchen implement
5. step outside and throw a handful of flour at yourself

You are a cook or maybe a chef or maybe a even a baker!
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 10:30 AM on October 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


That sexy Chilean miner costume is something else.
posted by Nelson at 10:30 AM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


And as someone who always has a last minute lazy costume: toilet paper mummy will not last the night.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 10:31 AM on October 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Me and an previous GF went with the lazy-as-hell bedsheet toga (gack, 30+ years ago). People were drunk, nobody gave a crap.
Methinks people are overthinking a plate of pumpkin too much.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 10:36 AM on October 30, 2010


I don't really care if girls dress in sexy costumes for halloween so long as there's imagination to it. At a party last night there were a few girls dressed just in skimpy black clothes and we asked them, "what are you?" "I'm a vampire, i just don't have my teeth in right now." Utterly pathetic.
posted by lizbunny at 10:37 AM on October 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


Yes, it’s that time of year, when the journalistic ritual known as The Shaming of the Sexy Halloween Costume rears its smug head, chastising Raggedy Anns who dare show too much cleavage.....Never mind that the media seems to have no problem with the overwhelmingly violent crop of costume selections for young boys—everything from Freddy Krueger to machete-wielding convicts. Apparently teen pregnancy is still a threat but aggression in teenage boys has been handily resolved.

I think she makes a couple of good points, but calling your article: "In Defense of Slutty Halloween Costumes" is missing the boat a little bit.
posted by cmgonzalez at 10:38 AM on October 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


My 'non sexy' costume is Marty McFly!?

Dammit I need you here!! Going as Doc and haven't been able to convince anyone to be my Marty.
posted by mannequito at 10:41 AM on October 30, 2010


I think it would be better all the way around if we went back to having Halloween be just for kids, nobody over 13 allowed.
posted by briank at 10:41 AM on October 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


My 'non sexy' costume is Marty McFly!

Nice shorts, "Calvin."
posted by LastOfHisKind at 10:47 AM on October 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


I like these suggestions, especially sexy back cover of the Giving Tree!
posted by drinkyclown at 10:48 AM on October 30, 2010 [10 favorites]


And as someone who always has a last minute lazy costume: toilet paper mummy will not last the night.

This. Also, bedsheet ghost interferes significantly with both drinking ability and peripheral vision.
posted by 7segment at 10:53 AM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Not every woman has the time or ability to put together a decent-looking costume on their own and they should not be forced to show themselves off if they want to get a costume off-the-shelf.

I agree that a greater variety in store-bought women's Halloween costumes would be great, but really and honestly, it is not that hard to DIY a costume that doesn't show off anything at all. Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction. Elaine Benes. Cleopatra. Spend 30 minutes in a Goodwill and you can be any of those.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:58 AM on October 30, 2010


I am going as lecherous-old-perv-dude. My costume is a snap, been wearing it every day for about fifteen years now.
posted by Xoebe at 10:59 AM on October 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Stores sell things that sell. I don't understand the seasonal GRAR at all.
posted by Aquaman at 11:06 AM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


What sexy costumes for men really look like. Do you notice any parallels with sexy costumes for women when both sets of costumes are designed to excite male eyes?
posted by Long Way To Go at 11:10 AM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


For sooooomeeee reason, I feel like the terms "whore-loween" and "skank suit" are not great for a post about feminist issues related to Halloween costumes.

...those terms are quotes from the links. And they are in quotes. On purpose.

What would a sexy feminist costume look like?

Right here, baby. 16W short Levi's and a grey turtleneck.
posted by Miko at 11:13 AM on October 30, 2010 [9 favorites]


Sporting my usual Sexy, balding, middle-aged blue-collar workerbee, here.

When I was a kid Halloween was the best of all birthdays. Now, I'm beginning to just plain hate it.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:13 AM on October 30, 2010


Dan Savage on sexy Halloween
posted by deadbilly at 11:14 AM on October 30, 2010 [13 favorites]


Remember kids, sex is bad.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:15 AM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


As a Brit, I do not understand Halloween. As a moderately intelligent human being I understand "sexy" Halloween even less. No wait, I do. This is a "crass, unthinking, modern sexism" thing, right?

God, yanks, just dress up as horror-based shit - you know, in keeping with what the thing is supposed to be about - or ignore it, like the rest of the world.
posted by Decani at 11:18 AM on October 30, 2010


toilet paper mummy will not last the night

But ah my foes and oh my friends
It gives a mummy light
posted by Elsa at 11:22 AM on October 30, 2010 [13 favorites]


Need a quick costume? Just slap on some corpse paint and go as "Democracy."

*sigh*
posted by drezdn at 11:22 AM on October 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Pornkins® introduces an all NEW way to spice up your Halloween Party, or Special Occasion with this all new twist on Holiday Pumpkin Carving. (NSFW)
posted by gman at 11:25 AM on October 30, 2010


helmutdog,

I have to ask - what does sexy Mao look like?
posted by lukemeister at 11:26 AM on October 30, 2010


I have to ask - what does sexy Mao look like?

I dunno, but every time I leave the house I am dressed as a sexy member of the sexy proletariat.
posted by joe lisboa at 11:28 AM on October 30, 2010 [10 favorites]


God, yanks, just dress up as horror-based shit - you know, in keeping with what the thing is supposed to be about - or ignore it, like the rest of the world.

We like to keep ya'll confused, so you never guess who we're going to invade next.
posted by nomadicink at 11:29 AM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


God, yanks, just dress up as horror-based shit - you know, in keeping with what the thing is supposed to be about - or ignore it, like the rest of the world.

Those two options sound reallyreallyreally boring.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:33 AM on October 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


I bought a pumpkin that I did not carve. What this feminist plans to do on Halloween, is not answer the door, do her homework, and get some rest. Hey! Every day is the day of the dead with me.

I spent 20 years sitting on my cold front porch, handing out candy, to my delightful neighbor kids, and my own. Now I am free from that duty, I can't see being anything but warm on Halloween.
posted by Oyéah at 11:35 AM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


What would a sexy feminist costume look like?

I'm not sure, but it's hard not to notice that SEXY FEMINIST can be rearranged to spell FEISTY MINXES.
posted by Wolfdog at 11:37 AM on October 30, 2010 [42 favorites]


Sexy teenage mutant ninja turtle was the one that most made me say "Whaaaaaaa?"
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 11:44 AM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


God, yanks, just dress up as horror-based shit - you know, in keeping with what the thing is supposed to be about - or ignore it, like the rest of the world.

If they were really "in keeping with what the thing is supposed to be about," they wouldn't be dressing up at all. Only in the last ten years or so has Hallowe'en been so aggressively marketed to American adults. Before that, it was the province of actual children, not drunken nitwits dressed up in ridiculously oversexualized costumes who use it as an excuse to behave like children. As a manufactured "holiday," Hallowe'en ranks right up there with "Sweetest Day" and those faux-ethnic alternatives to religious celebrations in December as unspeakably crass consumer gimmicks.
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 11:46 AM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have nothing against dressing provocatively. I like it. There can be slut day, skank day, sexy day -- whatever.

What I don't like is the sexualization of children, and that is what this strikes me as. Halloween is traditionally a children's holiday. When I was young, there would be an adult neighbor or two who would dress up as something scary to hand out candy to kids. I was aware of and saw no adults dressing up as anything.

People can't grow up now, so they try to create adult versions of their childhood. I saw very few adult birthday parties (someone would turn fifty or seventy or something, and they might have a party), now I see constant birthday parties for adults. Adults have decided to modify Halloween and make it for adults.

How do we make it more adult-like? We make it sexual. So now kids look to their role models, and they see how Halloween should really be done. It should be done with a lot of sex. They are going to mimic that, and we wind up with prepubescent girls running around looking like hookers. If you can't see some obvious problems with that (girls being degraded, people having sex too early, girls being taken less seriously at school and on the job, etc.), then I don't think we have much to discuss.

I have a good friend of mine who is dressing up as a sexy version of a Candy Land character. Last year she was a sexy Big Bird. The year before she was a sexy Smurf. She is a lawyer. She is 32. She isn't just sexualizing Halloween -- she is sexualizing children's toys and experiences. I happen to find it disturbing. I also happen to find it not too coincidental that she practices law under a glass ceiling that brushes up against her hair. Everyone likes her, and no one respects her professionally.

So people can dress up all they want in a sexual manner, and I am fine with that. I just think you are kidding yourself if you think that completely sexualizing a children's holiday has no effect on children -- particularly on how girls view what their roles in life are.
posted by flarbuse at 11:53 AM on October 30, 2010 [24 favorites]


I had this problem this year - for our local zombie walk, I wanted to be a zombie angel. I could only find sexy angel costumes, which was annoying.

(I ended up being a zombie Star Trek redshirt. It went over VERY well.)
posted by Lucinda at 11:53 AM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


As a Brit, I do not understand Halloween.

I think it was elsewhere on MeFi that someone who had lived in both the US and Britain helpd to explain this by noting that in the US, we have no tradition of fancy dress parties for adults. Really none - no carnival, no masqeurade, no pantomime kinds of things. Occasionally some fundraiser or other might do a theme like "night in Venice" and everyone will carry around a mask on a stick, but other than that, we just don't have any other events where adults wear something a few steps away from the ordinary. I agree that this is a big part of the reason why adults have co-opted Halloween to the degree they have in the US. But to add context, Halloween traditions aren't old or longstanding anywhere - even trick-or-treating for kids goes back only a couple generations. My answer here explores some of the evolution of Halloween as it unfolded differently in the US and Britain.
posted by Miko at 11:55 AM on October 30, 2010 [21 favorites]


Girlfriend and I tried to come up with costume ideas for Sexy Wallstreet Bailout, but looks like we're going as vault escapees from Fallout instead.
posted by honeydew at 12:13 PM on October 30, 2010


Get a bunch of sexy [x] costumes and wear them all, you'll be resplendent in your non-revealing glory. "I'm sexy everything."
posted by user92371 at 12:14 PM on October 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


I blame Coors Brwing Company and their Elvira promotion that started in 1986
posted by Mick at 12:15 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Halloween is the upstart rebel of holidays. It's currently only really a teenager, you know. We have to allow things like sexy bumblebee dogs to exist for a couple decades at least, despite the appalling damages done to feminism and general morality in the meantime. In a few generations it'll all have blown over, maybe a century or so; Halloween will go all 30 year oldish and get responsible and codified. It will pay its taxes and do the laundry before the underpants run out and probably stop eating quite so much candy.

I foresee dull future Halloween holo-vid tv specials about the true meaning of Halloween really being family and friendship and ugh, *sharing*. We might get something vaguely July 4thish in the end, with potlucks instead of picnics, candles and Thriller instead of sparklers and 1812 Overture. I'm lucky because I get to be alive when Halloween is still getting ironed out into something presentable. Disgusting affronts to women are just another wrinkle.
posted by Mizu at 12:18 PM on October 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


I also happen to find it not too coincidental that she practices law under a glass ceiling that brushes up against her hair. Everyone likes her, and no one respects her professionally.

So shaming her because she expresses herself in a certain way is okay and "not too coincidental"? Women expressing themselves in that way don't deserve such derision. Why would people not respect her professionally over a Halloween costume?
posted by cmgonzalez at 12:19 PM on October 30, 2010 [10 favorites]


Dudes: "What's so wrong with sexy Halloween costumes?"

Well, dudes, if every dude costume off the shelf required you to wear hot pants and thigh high socks and platform heels, I bet you'd complain too.

Especially in October. Brr.
posted by emjaybee at 12:24 PM on October 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


Meanwhile, the Ms. blog wonders what sexy Halloween costumes for men might look like.

Det Perfekte Menneske
posted by benzenedream at 12:27 PM on October 30, 2010


I'm a big fan of sexy Halloween costumes for women, actually.
posted by planet at 12:33 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Dr. Nelson found that even costumes for little girls were gendered. Boys got to be computers while the girls were cupcakes. "

Maybe I'm missing something here, but is there any reason why a little girl can't wear a "boy's" computer costume?
posted by yeolcoatl at 12:38 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


A dozen years ago, I made myself a goat costume. Fake fur sleeveless top, fake fur miniskirt (with tail) and ears, a collar with a cow bell, fishnet stockings, knee-high boots, latex glue-on horns, and some massive false eyelashes. To be a bit transgressive, and, admittedly, to fuck with people's heads, I also made and applied a long crepe hair goatee. It turns out that I was correct in my conjecture: Sexy Getup + Beard weirds people right the hell out.
posted by jocelmeow at 12:39 PM on October 30, 2010 [24 favorites]


despite the appalling damages done to feminism and general morality in the meantime.

Now I'm worried.
posted by Brian B. at 12:40 PM on October 30, 2010


26 Sexy Halloween Costumes That Shouldn't Exist
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 12:42 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Don't worry too much, Brian B. I let shit like "Misses" being average-sized women's clothes, "Women" or, urk, "Goddess" being large-sized women's clothes, and "Petite" being small-sized women's clothes fly, too. As a petite with goddess boobs and a misses butt, every day for me is sexy halloween on top and dowdy business birthday party on the bottom. An affront to feminism!
posted by Mizu at 12:44 PM on October 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


I'm with Dan Savage. Why can't hets have a holiday to display their kinks, even if they are too shy to do so normally? If men wearing skimpy clothes would get them straight women, they'd do it, I have no doubt. Women who don't want to dress sexy don't have to do it.

And I don't think "OMG What about the children?" has any relevance. Little kids do not understand sexuality and no one is dressing them as "sexy schoolgirl" because it wouldn't work, they'd just look like kids!!!! Adults don't go trick or treating with their kids in these outfits—they wear them to adult parties. Or is the argument that adults should never do anything that isn't child friendly/ "good role model" behavior? How will there ever *be* any more children that way?

I am curious whether actual pedophiles even like the stuff that sexualizes children. They seem just as likely to dislike it— it seems to me that if your preference is children, making them look more adult wouldn't be what they would want. This would be a good thing to know, however, as we consider these questions and it is presumably an empirical question although not one our government would even consider studying, despite the fact that not studying these types of things doesn't make them go away.
posted by Maias at 12:46 PM on October 30, 2010 [8 favorites]


I feel like the "sexy" costume has turned into such a meme, that it can, itself, be spoofed as a halloween costume if turned on its head. I got lazy/busy so didn't put together a costume this year, but my plan was to be "sexy google." It was to involve some kind of all-white mini-dress getup with the google logo painted upon it. Nerdy and snarky and still sexy.

The other thing that stopped me was that I've managed to go in what amounts to pajamas every year for nearly a decade - ninja, auto mechanic, Max from Where the Wild Things Are, etc. - and now I'm too spoiled to be cold and uncomfortable all night.
posted by vytae at 12:47 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


What would a sexy feminist costume look like?

It's right there in the Bitch Magazine link: Gloria Steinem undercover as a Playboy Bunny.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 12:49 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


My main guiding principle is that Halloween is not Mardi Gras/Carnival -- you don't get to just pick a costume and go dressed as whatever. Halloween is about ghosts, monsters, zombies, vampires, and related beasts. You went to a Halloween party as a superhero? Sorry, you are a douche. Same applies if you went as a sexy nurse, but also if you went as Frida Kahlo and Hatshepsut. Unless you went as Frida Kahlo as she is now -- dead, and decomposed. Or if you went as a mummified Hatshepsut.

TL;DR -- Halloween is not about dressing up. It is about dressing up as something dead or living-dead.
posted by TheyCallItPeace at 12:50 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I had a hard time explaining this to my partner, who assumed that if I got dressed up "sexy" was a requirement. I had to explain if I was going to play make believe I had a hard time pretending to be say, a cop, in a mini dress. On the other hand, the fact that many of these costumes needs to be gender-ized is already an interesting plate 'o beans. For example why buy a "female" fire fighter costume? The real ones in full gear look like well armoured lumps regardless of sex.

On the other hand, even when it was adult male apprentices dressing up as women and demons if they weren't given a free feast at village limits, the idea was to be transgressive.

Wish guys would knock off asking me if I was going as "sexy" whatever though. Too many bloody assumptions.
posted by Phalene at 12:52 PM on October 30, 2010


Six year old me and his fried egg costume* say sit on it, TheyCallItPeace.

* the first and last time my mom offered to make me a costume of my choice
posted by jtron at 12:54 PM on October 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


Doesn't all the sexy makeup come off when you play Duck Apple?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:56 PM on October 30, 2010


Hets? Am I supposed to get het up about that? I hope not, 'cause it's kinda funny -- never seen it before, though.
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:56 PM on October 30, 2010


You went to a Halloween party as a superhero? Sorry, you are a douche.

I know, right? Screw those people for having fun! It's like those douches don't know there are rules!
posted by griphus at 12:59 PM on October 30, 2010 [15 favorites]


Just go as Valerie Solanas and be done with it.

Haha joke's on you I find her attractive.
posted by clarknova at 1:07 PM on October 30, 2010


The problem comes when (as griphus points out above) nearly every option for off-the-shelf costumes for women is the revealing or provocative Sexy [Whatever], which has been the case in every sotume shop I've been in for the past few years, and which is reflected in the links above.

Costume shops, like every other commercial outlet, stock that which sells the best. Is the insinuation that there is some other motive here? I'm genuinely confused about the outrage. Annoyance, sure. I'm annoyed that, as a skinny male, my waist size is difficult to find in the store. I do not think this is done because society only values big, brawny men (though it might). Just, there's more of them than me buying pants at any given day, and people making pants only care about making the most money. Is there some reason to think something else is going on here?
posted by cj_ at 1:08 PM on October 30, 2010 [9 favorites]


Women who don't want to dress sexy don't have to do it.

The trouble is that "not having to dress sexy" can only be manifested by "not bothering with a costume altogether."

The complaint is not "oh there are sexy costumes oh noes", the complaint is that "....okay, here's the SEXY lady pirate costume, where's the REGULAR lady pirate costume?...oh, there is none?...oh."

On the other hand, I'm very, very skeptical about how well a Frida Kahlo costume would go over. It strikes me that Frida Kahlo is only a pop culture icon in select circles.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:16 PM on October 30, 2010


I'm genuinely confused about the outrage. Annoyance, sure.

If you read my comment (the one you're quoting, or indeed the earlier one in which I talk about Sexy Albert Einstein) as anything other than annoyance and laughter, then either I did not write it clearly or you did not not read it carefully.
posted by Elsa at 1:18 PM on October 30, 2010


Look beyond the economics of this, cj_. The hand of the free market is often at odds with the right thing to do with society, simply because it ignores context. In the 1950s, for instance, a diner could make a lot more money by not serving blacks at the counter. By doing that, they perpetuated a stereotype of blacks as the "other" who white people were implicitly told they shouldn't be comfortable around, nor were good enough people to be served like whites.

Women who want to buy off-the-shelf costumes, built for womens' figures, are forced, for the most part, to buy "sexy" costumes. As a slim guy with experience in both costume and clothing shops, I can tell you that finding a pair of pants for a slim guy is absolutely nothing compared to finding a off-the-shelf womens' costume that isn't "sexy". Some women are okay with this, and god bless them, they should have carte blanche to dres how they want. The women who are not? They're stuck either showing off their bodies in a way they find uncomfortable, having to put together their own costume (which isn't always fun or ends up nice-looking) or sitting out on the fun holiday altogether. If they do find or build a costume that isn't 'sexy,' they are seen as not being part of the fun because they're showing themselves off. The fact that the stores only stock showy costumes perpetuates the idea that women are supposed to show themselves off on Halloween.
posted by griphus at 1:21 PM on October 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


OMG I am totes outing myself for being anti-sex because I think the stripperification (I've always assumed that to be the origins of these outfits, though usually the stripper store sells that crap for less) of women's Halloween costumes is some dopey-ass jive retailing for $50 USD.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 1:22 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I believe this video is somehow appropriate.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:25 PM on October 30, 2010


A favorite, easy to make, (probably) not-overly-sexy costume my better half threw together in under an hour
posted by jtron at 1:25 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


A favorite, easy to make, (probably) not-overly-sexy costume my better half threw together in under an hour

Two years ago, I was at the East Village Halloween parade. My friends and I were done and heading home by the empty-er sidestreets and there was a couple approaching us. The dude was just wearing a suit and a white wig. The girl looked like she was a bouquet of blue flowers or something. I couldn't tell. Then it hit me and I turned to my friends:

"Hey guys! Look! She's dead! Wrapped in plastic!"

The young woman, who had passed us, stopped dead and quikcly turned to me with just the BIGGEST smile and thanked me repeatedly. She was so happy. It was awesome.
posted by griphus at 1:29 PM on October 30, 2010 [8 favorites]


This sexy costume debate is irrelevant. If you aren't dancing around a fire made of the bones of your livestock, bobbing for apples, and eating brack with a ring in it, you're doing it wrong.
posted by kersplunk at 1:29 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


...Um. Can we all pretend that I posted some other video that was absolutely stunningly produced, and possibly starred David Tennant, instead of just re-posting something that was in the OP just now?

Super. Thanks.

(slinks away)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:32 PM on October 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


TL;DR -- Halloween is not about dressing up. It is about dressing up as something dead or living-dead.

Look, to each his own. The rest of us will use the excuse to dress up because there are rarely any other opportunities for it.

Encoraging people to dress up as Frida Kahlo or Angela Davis or other historical figures as an alternative strikes me too much as a "let's use this opportunity to turn this celeration into an uplifting, educational experience," which, on a night of revelry, is pretty darn annoying (hypocrisy disclosure: I'm dressing up as Andy Warhol tonight. Anyone who wants to join me as Nico is welcome. If you come as Valeria Solanas, you need to bring me a tube of fake blood for me to smear on myself).
posted by deanc at 1:38 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


One of these years, I'm going to go as (white/male/heterosexual/etc) privilege. If somebody asks where my costume is, I'll say, "It's invisible!" This cannot fail.
posted by LMGM at 1:46 PM on October 30, 2010 [15 favorites]


Sex is breaking in and trying to take over everywhere it used to be kept out of.

Halloween is conquered and totally pacified.

What's next? The workplace, ala the LA Times?

I first felt the shock of this when I started to notice brand new mothers pushing around their baby carriages in very tight and appealing outfits.
posted by jamjam at 1:50 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Every year, I walk by the "I'm a slutty ____" stores going up and wonder why they bother putting "Halloween" in the title. Slutty Elmos, M&Ms, Chilean miners, you say?

And of course, my personal dilemma, which I've commented about on the 'Filter before: still wondering how, much like last year, to LITERALLY convey "I'm a slutty BLANK" without over-explaining it. I guess it's the great enigma of women everywhere... along with the "Oh shit, it was warm yesterday, WHY IS IT SLEETING TODAY ON HALLOWEEN WHEN I HAVE 2 SQUARE INCHES OF FABRIC IN MY COSTUME?!?!" dilemma.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 1:52 PM on October 30, 2010


If it were not for the socially acceptable practice of dressing and acting slutty on Halloween, most of us would never have been conceived. The tradition is a gift to humanity.
posted by i_have_a_computer at 2:03 PM on October 30, 2010


Anyone up for a sexy zombie?

I'm doing a sexy costume this year. I'll show up naked on roller skates as a pull toy...

Amirite?

(dodges incoming flying rotten produce)
posted by Samizdata at 2:08 PM on October 30, 2010


Oh, yeah. The zombie is kinda NSFW...
posted by Samizdata at 2:11 PM on October 30, 2010


If they were really "in keeping with what the thing is supposed to be about," they wouldn't be dressing up at all. Only in the last ten years or so has Hallowe'en been so aggressively marketed to American adults. Before that, it was the province of actual children, not drunken nitwits dressed up in ridiculously oversexualized costumes who use it as an excuse to behave like children

I bet your house gives out apples and peanuts in the shell. I'd like to point out that pretty much everyone I know has been going to parties in costume on Halloween, as adults, for at least 15 years now. We aren't exactly pioneers of the Halloween costume party either, I remember my parents friends having raucus Halloween parties when I was a kid too. Sure we went trick-or-treating as kids, and when we turned 18 and could buy booze we weren't as likely to smash pumpkins and set off firecrackers and egg houses anymore--we just took it inside. Also, in keeping with what the thing is supposed to be about, WTF is with football on Thanksgiving and a decorated pine tree on Christmas and a chocolate bunny on Easter? FUN, that's what.
posted by Hoopo at 2:15 PM on October 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


I've had a couple of times that I satirized the sexy costume. My best was a sort of mash-up between the Madwoman of Chaillot and a playboy bunny. I blew up an actual cover of playboy and made a sandwich board connected by velcro. Above the sandwich board, I wore a big-hair purple Dolly Parton-esque wig, bunny years, wildly exaggerated makeup and a sexy eye mask. Below, I wore fish nets and super high-heel boots. So far so good, an eccentrically sexy look that garnered a fair amount of attention. But now and then I would open the cover to flash the centerfold: a ridiculously lumpy, grotesque nude body I had fashioned out of flesh colored longjohns, a garter belt and some strategic buttons and yarn - totally silly. It was a gas, everybody loved it. I regret that I have no pictures but it was in the neolithic pre-cell phone camera days.
posted by madamjujujive at 2:18 PM on October 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


I hope the people that are saying "adults who dress up on halloween are nitwits" and adults who dress at the wrong thing are "douches" realize that an awfully large portion of this site does exactly that.

There may be nitwits and douches out there, but you're pretty much calling thousands of us that when you generalize that hard. So, well, stop it. We're just having fun.

more fun than you, clearly
posted by flaterik at 2:22 PM on October 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


Halloween for adults is not recent. Ellen Forney's excellent book Monkey Food talks at length about her parents' Halloween costumes and parties in the 70s. Oddly, this did not kill her Halloween fun!

My kid was thrilled that I decided to dress up with him this year. He does not seem to worried that I'm going to be getting all the attention/candy, probably because kids are always going to beat grownups at the cuteness game, god love 'em.
posted by emjaybee at 2:26 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you really want a #feministhalloween, go as Christine O'Donnell in a ladybug costume. That's solidarity!

So glad I saw this and googled the story before going as a ladybug to a Halloween party tonight! Now I'll be a 2007 Christine O'Donnell ladybug!
posted by amro at 2:30 PM on October 30, 2010


There's this thing called the internet where you can easily purchase costumes for women that are not overly sexual should you be unable to find any at your local retail outlet.
posted by Mick at 2:41 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Note that many of those are plus size, Mick. Non-sexy plus size costumes seem to be easier to find.
posted by amro at 2:47 PM on October 30, 2010


I take that back. Less of them are plus size than I thought.
posted by amro at 2:49 PM on October 30, 2010


The invisible hand of the free market is feeling you up.
posted by ODiV at 3:09 PM on October 30, 2010 [13 favorites]


You people take the fun out of everything! Next you'll be taking Christ out of Christmas. There's a reason for the season, folks. If this atheist can't have his sexy nurses and Christmas presents guilt free then he doesn't want them!

Oh, who am I kidding I still want them.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:01 PM on October 30, 2010


I think it's fairly easy to look beyond the economics — unless you're the one who owns the store.

"Sure, business sucked and I rented out very few costumes and eventually went into default ... but at least I ... *gasp* did the right thing *falls over*"

The "Fall Upon Your Sword for My Ideology" approach sometimes does not get a lot of uptake.
posted by adipocere at 4:09 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm just glad these feminists are finally putting women in their place.
posted by Bonzai at 4:22 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


John Stalvern waited. The lights above him blinked and sparked out of the air. There were sexy demons at the party. He didn't see them, but had expected them now for years. His warnings to his RA were not listenend to and now it was too late. Far too late for now, anyway.
John was a college student for fourteen months. When he was young he watched the football games and he said to dad "I want to be in a frat daddy."
Dad said "No! You will BE SEDUCED BY SEXY DEMONS"
There was a time when he believed him. Then as he got oldered he stopped. But now in the frat house Hallowe'en party he knew there were sexy demons.
"This is Don Sovoge" the radio crackered. "You must hit on the sexy demons!"
So John chugged his vodka and Red Bull and threw up on the wall.
"HE GOING TO SPLASH US" said the sexy demons
"I will help him to the restroom" said the sexy Goldilocks and she offered a towel. John barfed at her and tried to stand up. But then the decorations fell and they were trapped and not able to flirt.
"No! I must hit on the sexy demons" he shouted
The alt weekly columnist said "No, John. You are the sexy demons"
And then John was a sexy zombie.
posted by No-sword at 5:00 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yesterday, in the union square station, I saw a costumed bunch, including a muscled up blond buzzcut dude in trunks and gloves with the hammer and sickle tatted on his shoulder. I tapped him on said shoulder, lloked him dead in the face and said in a Rissian accent "I must break you." He stared for a second and then exploded laughing.
posted by jonmc at 5:11 PM on October 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


better plan all week, better plan all month, better plan all year...
posted by orme at 5:25 PM on October 30, 2010


And here I thought Halloween was the season where you made things out of paper mâché and bought a pattern and fabric from Joanns or Michaels. Then spent a month before yelling at your sewing machine. That why we eat all the kids candy after they go to bed right?
posted by humanfont at 5:26 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


"or ignore it (Halloween), like the rest of the world."

Just here to say that it sounds like you've never been out of London. Among many other places, Hong Kong has been rocking all weekend.

And isn't Halloween (Pooky night) just as popular, or more so, in Ireland?
posted by zephyr_words at 8:02 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like sexy Halloween because I just need to add a prop to my usual clubwear and I'm good to go.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:58 PM on October 30, 2010


The DIY costumes are the most memorable, "sexy" or otherwise, in any event. I don't feel bad for people who feel they have to put together their own kit because they're outside the size range, or intellectual range, of what's available at the holiday stores. Who buys that stuff anyway? The material looks toxic.
posted by SheaCoin at 9:18 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sexy man costume: ‎"Listen to me brother, saddle your pony, you bet, sheepherders, you're in for a treat, it is showdown time, and showdown time, you bet, and we ain't even saddled our ponies yet..." That's a Psalm of David, I believe.
posted by eegphalanges at 10:04 PM on October 30, 2010


I was going more for tough than sexy this year.
posted by Lexica at 10:21 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't a sexy Chilean miner costume be one of the actual miners? One man had women fighting over him at the vigil outside the mine. Another had four women claiming him. Sounds like the true sexy miners to me.

Sexy miners = good. Sexy minors = very very bad.
posted by maryr at 10:22 PM on October 30, 2010


And here I thought Halloween was the season where you made things out of paper mâché and bought a pattern and fabric from Joanns or Michaels. Then spent a month before yelling at your sewing machine.

I use neoprene and a hot glue gun in place of fabric and a sewing machine.
posted by Tenuki at 10:33 PM on October 30, 2010


jocelmeow, I did male drag once for Halloween in San Francisco, a leisure-suited 1970's man with full beard, chest hair, a nice package, and a great nappy head of hair. I wore aviators to hide my girl eyes, my suit was cut really sharp, I think I bought Old Spice, too, and wore it: I was potently sexy.

At house party I went to, two women tried to beat me up at the end of the night because I was so confusing to them. Their boyfriends had to hold them back and the hostess had to apologize the next day....bad scene....and it's not as if I was coming on to them or anything, it's I was that mesmerizing, I guess.

I've done the sexy woman costume, everyone--male and female-- wants to grind against me and pet me nicely. I remember once in the East Village New York parade crowd, some young men did a brief testicle check--ah, memories!-- People are awful...it wasn't a rapey thing, it was a like a kitten gender check thing. Ah, girl parts! I shake my head, the "wisdom" of crowds, ha!

But in male drag, two chicks were trying to seriously physically assault me. I think it was simply as they knew I was a girl under all that costume that they could physically outclass me in a way that wasn't possible had a truly been a man.

People can be really...unpleasant.
posted by eegphalanges at 10:49 PM on October 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


The sexualization of children's costumes is not really that new.

I remember when I was ten (I'm 39 now) encountering two of my classmates while Trick or Treating. They didn't look like anything in particular, but were wearing a lot of makeup, very short cutoff shorts, and tight fitting shirts that were tied to expose their midriffs.

I asked them what they were supposed to be.

"We're hookers."

"What's a hooker?"



Then they proceeded to give me a world of shit for not knowing what a hooker was. It was one of those times when future me wants to intervene on behalf of past me and say "You know why I don't know what a hooker is? BECAUSE I AM TEN YEARS OLD AND LIVE IN A TOWN IN CENTRAL WISCONSIN WITH A POPULATION OF 354."
posted by louche mustachio at 3:07 AM on October 31, 2010 [6 favorites]


Suspend a steak above your head and go as sub-prime...
posted by gbc at 4:35 AM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


OneMonkeysUncle: "
If they were really "in keeping with what the thing is supposed to be about," they wouldn't be dressing up at all. Only in the last ten years or so has Hallowe'en been so aggressively marketed to American adults.
"

Nonsense. Halloween is all about dressing up so that the demons/dead/spirits can't recognise you, because on this night the veil between this world & the Otherworld is dangerously thin. Also, don't forget to light your bonfires & drive your cattle and sheep between the fires.
Ignore the craziness of the bulbs not bonfires.
posted by Fence at 5:10 AM on October 31, 2010


If women want to dress sexy - go for it. But I agree that it is more the LACK of other off the shelf options that's the problem.

THAT SAID.

I saw a sexy Winnie The Pooh yesterday. Full body costume, but unzipped halfway down the front to show cleavage. I was horrified.
posted by bibliogrrl at 6:15 AM on October 31, 2010


My ultimate no-effort Halloween costume: beekeeper. It's immediately recognizable, warm, and can be put together in five minutes (but only if you keep bees; time consuming otherwise).
posted by ryanrs at 7:00 AM on October 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Skank suit

Have to say I'm a little disheartened to see slut, skank, whore &c. toss about so easily when rallying against current Halloween costuming faire. What ever happened to the ideal that women should be able to wear anything and, not be judged, harassed or assaulted merely for dressing provocatively?
posted by squeak at 7:25 AM on October 31, 2010


Not every woman has the time or ability to put together a decent-looking costume on their own and they should not be forced to show themselves off if they want to get a costume off-the-shelf.
This. There just aren't other costumes available outside of the rental shops unless you've got time, money, and skill to DIY. Oh, and the eight inches of plastic miniskirt stuff costs the same as the men's costumes that'd actually keep you from freezing in late October weather.


Isn't commerce about providing people without imaginations and the ability to maximize their existing solutions? Seriously: what the fuck? Its not like we live in a controlled state where one is (a) compelled to dress, as an adult, for a child's holiday (b) dress inappropriately; or (c) buy shit, especially shit one does not want.

I hate to say it but you're going down to the anti-creativity store asking for some enlightened thinking and its not going to happen. I see commercial outfits, even the sexy ones, as indicators of the lazy and lame. Every fifth-grader can cobble up a costume from available materials and so can every adult who has half an ounce of faith in their own creative abilities. If you need inspiration, tend the door for the earlier part of the evening and see what comes by. Seriously. If one can't fashion a divalicious "Miss Understood" costume out of one's existing belongings in ten minutes regardless of gender then you are a poor human being indeed. I think I even have a fairy-wand here I could use as a scepter.

Really, the only reason for adults to NEED to dress is to go out and either get hammered or laid, and in either case, creativity and intelligence aren't the point of the exercise. Maybe you've confused yourself by saying its a house party. For the small percentage who enjoy dressing up for other reasons: my mother was that sort as well, though I suspect she really -is- a green-skinned witch in real life and what we see day-to-day is her costume. You are the true spirit of the holiday and have been working on your costume for weeks, so I salute you.

I'll be tending the door this year doing my annual costume trend survey, but I was last exceptionally successful as "DJ Dimitri" which cluttered my house not further and allowed an excuse to wear my cherished "Emigre" shirt while indulging in horrific stereotype , ashamedly. I did, however, get laid even if was "just" the future wife.

Happy Halloween, everybody: get some, whatever that may be. I think that's the point of the holiday. Even if its just demographics and a warm neighborly/get-off-my-lawn feeling.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 8:35 AM on October 31, 2010


WTF is with football on Thanksgiving and a decorated pine tree on Christmas and a chocolate bunny on Easter? FUN, that's what.

This might be one reason why Halloween as such took off in the US before it became popular in Europe. If there's one thing Americans enjoy, it's stupid fun for fun's sake. I've never seen this in Europe - the impulse to just do something stupid because IT'S FUN. I'm sure Europeans have their own fun, but they're not usually dressing up as naked Santa running a 5K through Boston on the coldest day of the year because WHY NOT?!

At worst, this leads to binge drinking and frat parties. At best: you get Halloween.
posted by sonika at 8:44 AM on October 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Girl's Costume Warehouse doesn't just have sexy costumes: they also have a frog outfit.
posted by autopilot at 9:25 AM on October 31, 2010


> If they do find or build a costume that isn't 'sexy,' they are seen as not
> being part of the fun because they're showing themselves off.

Fixable. Need better friends.


> The fact that the stores only stock showy costumes perpetuates the idea that
> women are supposed to show themselves off on Halloween.

Wait, stores? All stores? That's just crazy wrong. We're reaching profound social conclusions based on the stock of these literally fly-by-night costume shops that pop up in an otherwise unrentable storefront two weeks before Halloween and are gone the day after. The ones that sell stuff that's so cheaply made it doesn't even come from China because not even China makes shite that cheap.

We must be talking about those stores because other less limited costume sources exist and are easy to find given any forethought at all. All towns of any size have theatrical costume rental outfits; and if yours doesn't, normal non-"sexy" costumes can be rented online. The following links are to thecostumer.com which was the first search result (of 341,000) for "theatrical costume rental."

Anne Boleyn
Supply your own Henry VIII, but there are the duds for your date too.

My Fair Lady Ascot dress
(and on the same page Sherlock Holmes, an entirely unisex character--you're smoking or not-smoking a pipe and wearing a long grey overcoat, short gray cape, and deerstalker hat? I guarantee everyone will know who you're supposed to be no matter what your own everyday gender may be.)

Pre-revolutionary colonial dames dresses
Supply your own Paul Revere, but there's the three-cornered hat if his own is off at the blocker or something.

Upscale colonial dame

Maria Feodorovna, Empress of All the Russias

Gibson girls. (n.b wiki, Charled Dana Gibson)

Juliet Capulet

Scarlett O'Hara

And on and on, and that's just one source. Not a single one is at all unsuitably revealing and in most of 'em nobody can even tell how big your butt is.

Face it, you're "restricted" to the show-your-T&A cheerleader/cocktail waitress/nurse costumes from the Usual Suspect stores only when you care to invest this much in your costume: money, $50 or less; effort, imagination, advance planning, zilch. If that's all I cared about a party, would I even bother to go? Magic 8 Ball says Skip it. Work on your novel.


The last time I was invited to a Halloween party for grown-ups (I use "grown-ups" carefully, because at this party I encountered lots of people past the age of consent, many of 'em well past, but IMHO damn few adults) was quite a while back because I've spent the last umpty Halloweens escorting trick-or-treaters who were too young to go out by themselves and, later, another umpty Halloweens at home to answer the doorbell with treats. But at that last party my costume consisted of pre-existing dinner jacket and black tie together with some heavy Goth-style eye shadow, carmine lipstick, and plastic fangs. Total cost of costume (the parts purchased for the occasion) $15.00. Source, drugstore. (It did take some advanced planning, I admit. The dinner jacket and striped pants had to go to the cleaners to take out the mothball smell.) Ladies with a long black evening dress can do the eyeshadow and fangs number just as well as I can. You do have a non-revealing black evening dress, right? If not, the black dress you bought for Great Aunt Elouise's funeral will do fine. But if your only long black dress is backless down to the ass crack then you're not the one to be complaining about mass-market Halloween costumes, are you.

As for me, by the time I'm off duty at home on All Saints' eve and again available to party I'll be as old as Don Quixote. Happily I am indeed ready to put in a little advance effort, and I now have 20 years SCA armoring experience and also run a mean Golden Touch'n'Sew and I'm bloody well going to GO as Don Quixote. I frankly expect to be sexy as Hell.

Executive summary: the problem addressed in this thread is so far beyond trivial, my guess is it's a false-flag op made up by people who're out to present feminism and feminists as silly. (Bless their little hearts.)
posted by jfuller at 9:34 AM on October 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


This year, I was an anthropologist. Like early 20th century, with khakis, pith helmet and binoculars. (The boyfriend was my caveman specimen.) People who guessed at my costume said: 'sexy explorer' and 'sexy safari'.*

The year before, I was a dryad. 'Sexy tree spirit' - bah! The year before that? Virgin Mary. Yes. 'Sexy Virgin Mary'. DAMN IT I AM NOT A SEXY VIRGIN MARY I AM A REGULAR VIRGIN MARY I AM WEARING A WIMPLE FOR CHRISSAKES

On some level, it seems like a female costume doesn't compute unless it incorporates sexiness in some way. Like, you have to squint and tilt your head, but yeah, yeah, that's kind of what a sexy ___________ would look like, like female costume equals "Sexy" + "Noun".

Anyway, the main reason why it sucks is because it makes costumes boring.

*It is unlikely my overwhelming sexiness was responsible for these guesses.
posted by palindromic at 11:27 AM on October 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


Anne Boleyn
Supply your own Henry VIII, but there are the duds for your date too.


I've wanted to get a foofy Ren-Faire-esque dress* and dress up as Anne Boleyn. You'd be able to tell that that's who I was because I'd draw a nice perforated line on my neck.

Some day when I have the budget to buy/rent a big foofy dress and have a costume party to go to... oh yes.

(This would also work for Marie Antoinette, but I'd need a blonde wig for that. And wig = itchy.)

*Yes, I know it's historically inaccurate. Shut it.
posted by sonika at 1:12 PM on October 31, 2010


I'm genuinely confused about the outrage. Annoyance, sure.

With apologies to Liss from Shakesville: "I'm not outraged, I'm contemptuous."
posted by mendel at 2:06 PM on October 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


What makes people think that stores wouldn't sell this crap if it wasn't what people wanted? I've never heard of them taking a survey to see what customers would like. They just ship in the mass-produced in China polyester scraps of fabric, charge a ton of money for it, and move on. The 'sexy _____' costumes are cheap to supply and ubiquitous, they don't give a damn about fulfilling the needs of customers.

I'm annoyed because a great costume shop here has gotten rid of all the hand-made awesome stuff they used to have, and got in a bunch of the mass-produced stuff and filled in the gaps with some second-hand reject stuff that's generically 80s in style. I wish I knew where the previous owners took their cool stuff.

I know het guys like seeing chicks in sexy outfits, but you're not fooling anyone with this "I support women's right to self-expression as a sexy Winnie the Pooh" stuff. Or the invisible hand of the free market crap either.
posted by harriet vane at 3:41 AM on November 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


My invisible hand comment was a metaphor for how the "free market" isn't nearly as effective at serving the best interests of the public as sometimes theorized and how capitalism has been and continues to be mainly the domain of the privileged.

I really hope what you took from it wasn't that I "like seeing chicks in sexy outfits".
posted by ODiV at 7:59 AM on November 1, 2010


Seems to me that the idea that costume stores only sell "Sexy ____" because that's what people want is kind of like the idea that fat women don't want nice clothes. If you never offer any for sale, then is it any wonder you don't sell any? (And then, in the case of fat women, stores like Lane Byrant make a killing selling low-to-mid-quality goods because at least they're offering any option at all.)

I can think of a number of products that I can never find, because they second they appear in the stores, they're sold out immediately. When I ask why the stores don't order more, I'm told that it's because there's no market for those things. That's kind of how I feel when I'm told that no storefronts sell non "Sexy ____" costumes for women. How can you tell me there's no market when everywhere I go, people are complaining that they want another option?
posted by Karmakaze at 2:01 PM on November 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


It also bugs me because it's one more instance in which the idea of "sexy" which is being promoted has such a narrow bandwidth. I don't have a problem with expressing one's sexuality, but is this the best definition we can create - extremely revealing, infantilized, unimaginative? There are a lot of ways to be sexy and some of them just have to do with being authentically honest and bold; it saddens me that there's not more enthusiasm for a wider, freer, truer idea of what sexy is that departs from the same old stale rehashings of the last 50 years of the skin trade.
posted by Miko at 7:12 PM on November 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


The major problem with most fashion clothes being so limited in range and selection of styles is because at the end, it all bowls down to the business bottom line. I have been working in the fashion industry for the last 4 years, and what I see happening in big brand names, is that some designers loose money on some styles. They make it up by selling alternative designs. And what usually quickly sells out is often the stuff the designers looses money on. It explains why so called "sexy___" costumes may be out of order within short few weeks of release.
posted by MikeJc at 6:05 AM on November 2, 2010


My apologies, ODiV, your excellent comment put the 'invisible hand' phrase in my head but I didn't intend to point my snark at you. Serves me right for not directly quoting the stuff I disliked!
posted by harriet vane at 6:09 AM on November 2, 2010


Oh, no need for an apology at all. I'm just overly worried about being misread or misinterpreted.
posted by ODiV at 8:04 AM on November 2, 2010


We don't do Hallowe'en so much in the UK, but a university society I was in had an annual tart's party. One year, I went as a goth/Manic Street Preachers fan - too much eyeliner and WHORE/SLUT written on my chubby belly. All the younger women in 'sexy' schoolgirl costumes looked at me like I'd been wiped off a chunky platform boot. (As someone who wore school uniform for five years - it is NOT sexy. Please die, costume trend.)

However, the men were more outrageous. One year a guy came dressed solely in liquid latex - the next, a man came in a thong carrying gaffer tape and binliners and asked people to make his costume for him. It must have worked as he left the party with a hot boy in drag...
posted by mippy at 7:28 AM on November 3, 2010


I'm sure Europeans have their own fun, but they're not usually dressing up as naked Santa running a 5K through Boston on the coldest day of the year because WHY NOT?!

Probably because we can buy alcohol from fifteen with a face-full of make-up, so we get bored of goofing off too early. Boooo.

the free market thing is stupid. Average dress size in the UK: US size 12. Number of high-street stores selling clothing at that size or greater: comparatively few. It does not surprise me one bit that the plus-size costumes are not sexy - at that size, they should be wearing a sackcloth, amirite?
posted by mippy at 7:54 AM on November 3, 2010


« Older Although some claim most of the oil is gone, and n...  |  The Wet-Dog Shake (SLYT).... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments