By Chelsea Whitlow Shay
With Halloween just days away I can’t help but think of how hyper-sexualized Halloween has become, mainly just for women. It is a trend that has been happening for quite sometime, but it seems to be more striking recently.
As I was browsing the local Halloween Spirit Store earlier this month I was struck by how many (almost all) of the female costumes were really stripper outfits disguised as Halloween costumes. Disturbed by the lack of costumes that were more than just a few scraps of clothing, I posted to my instagram asking my followers: Why do female costumes of males characters always = skimpy stripper like outfits. #HalloweenFail #why.” The image I posted was an image of Courageous Maria and Sidekick Louisa the female “equivalent” of Nintendo’s classic Mario and Luigi. However, these outfits were anything but equivalent – the costumes in a bag didn’t contain the classic overalls in a smaller size for women. No – Courageous Maria and Sidekick Lousia will be saving Princess Peach and battling Kupa in a mini dress, knee high stockings and high heels.
One of my followers responded to my post stating: “Because Halloween is a slut holiday!.. Duh-lol.” I was slightly disappointed in this response – I was trying to get to the deeper underlying question as to why only women’s costumes are like this and not men’s? The male versions of the Mario and Luigi costumes aren’t battling it out in daisy duke overalls, so why are the women’s?
This may seem like a dumb question to pose, but I’m serious – why aren’t men’s costumes designed like this? If Halloween has turned into slut-o-ween, why isn’t it that way for everyone?
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve participated in this hyper-sexualized Halloween extravaganza, dressing in next to nothing at the end of October and freezing my butt off. Whether it was to fit in or make heads turn at a party I can’t really remember, but for many women they say it’s their only chance to dress so provocatively without anyone putting them down for it. So, why aren’t men taking advantage of this same “opportunity?”
Buzzfeed recently put together a video looking at this issue entitled, “If Men Were Women On Halloween” that illustrates how silly it is that Halloween has become so sexualized and what Halloween might be like if the gender roles were reversed. Often times we don’t see how strange our gendered culture is until we see the opposite gender participating in the same norms. If Halloween is truly a time for men and women to dress in scantily clad costumes, and not have anyone judge them, then this Buzzfeed video wouldn’t seem so odd. This Halloween, consider shaking up the gender norms. It’ll be a fright!
Chelsea Whitlow Shay is a M.A. candidate in Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies program at Oregon State University. She holds a B.A. in Psychology with minors in Visual Arts & Philosophy. Her areas of interest include: gender and societal norms, visual culture and media studies, feminist philosophy and first nation issues.