If the backlash against sexy Halloween costumes hadn’t already jumped the shark, it officially has now, what with Nicole Richie pleading on her Facebook page, “Girls, can we all pledge that we will not dress slutty for this Halloween? The jig is up.”
My instinct was to applaud her, but then my mini-third-wave-feminist kicked in and was all, “But wearing skimpy clothes on a socially sanctioned day is a step toward women not feeling shame over not being ‘sexy enough!’” And then my mini-third-wave-feminist’s cantankerous riot grrrl buddy chimed in about how relegating women’s reclamation of their sex appeal to one day defeated the pro-"Slut-o-ween" argument, and then they consulted their friend who has an adorable Etsy shop, who said that dressing slutty for Halloween was okay as long as it was done “with creative force,” and then the three of them left to discuss locavores, so I was left alone and not particularly giving a damn.
My solution to the Halloween costume conundrum is to act like a grown-up, meaning I drink dirty martinis while listening to Nina Simone, discussing Kierkegaard, and laughing throatily. That is, I don’t celebrate it in the least. I’ve had an aversion to costuming ever since I quit studying theater in college after realizing that the thought of spending my life with people who were “on” all the time made me queas. If pressed, I can whip up a costume, but in my post-college life I’d rather just skip the holiday altogether.
So in the spirit of not particularly enjoying Halloween, instead of presenting you with my own rhetoric on the wretched holiday, I’ll point you toward thoughts from those who have better things to say on it than I:
- Bug Girl, an entomologist, openly admits a tinge of envy of women who can be comfortable dressed sexily on Halloween, but the real gem here is her parasitized tobacco hornworm costume.
- Rachel Rabbit White’s “In Defense of Slut-o-Ween” is the most persuasive argument I’ve seen on the matter. Runner-up is Jenna Marbles: “There’s a time and a place for it. Probably not that appropriate to wear that to school.... But if you’re out somewhere trying to get fucking hammered, and it’s Halloween? Nothing wrong with being a ho!”
- PowerFemme thoughtfully gets into the heart of the issue: “A combination of the narrow definition of ‘sexiness’ and pervasive virgin/whore logic might help explain why women might take Halloween as a ‘free pass.’
- Side-by-side comparison of men’s and women’s store-bought costumes from Sociological Images.
- Take Back Halloween offers a guide to costuming yourself as historical women.
- And, ahem, so does Feministe. Sexy Regina Benjamin!
- Of course, you could always dress as a British imperialist.
- And if you need to make that British imperialist have an unzipped eye socket, Lifehacker can save the day.
- After the “We’re a culture, not a costume” stereotyping awareness campaign took on an unfortunate second life as a meme of mockery, the original campaign creators at Ohio University have a chance to respond.
- But what exactly makes, say, Pocahontas a potentially legitimate costume and Random Indigenous Woman offensive? Good magazine has a history and rundown of the cocktail of factors that determine whether a costume might be judged to be in poor taste. “Rule of thumb: If you ever find yourself justifying your outfit by sharing that your ‘best friend is black,’ your costume is racist.”
- But what exactly makes, say, Sufjan Stevens a potentially legitimate costume and Random Hipster offensive? Trick question!
To all of the above I will say that I have blasphemously dressed as the Virgin Mary and have a hard time looking devout Christians in the eye and admitting such; that I have dressed as a go-go girl and felt cold and stupid all night; that I have dressed as “slutty Viagra” and felt like a goddamned queen; and that the most fun I’ve ever had on Halloween was dressing up in my black camping underwear, complete with balaclava and fanny pack, and silently running around with a similarly clad partner and being random ninja/robber creations of our own design. We were kooky and spooky and fun, and though what we did was mundane by the standards of cleverness and obscure at best by the standards of sex appeal, I certainly felt more delightfully mischief-filled than I had on any Halloween prior or since.
Have fun tonight, whether it be from partying like a sexy aviator, gorging yourself on mellowcreme pumpkins, having hallowed communion with all souls, or waiting for November to just begin already, martini in hand.