Halloween costume shops are nothing short of polarizing. You walk in and half of the store is full of childish, spooky Halloween-kitsch, while the other half resembles a sex shop selling fetish-wear.
It’s fascinating, to me, how people get excited for the one day out of the entire year when it is socially acceptable to not take yourself seriously and dress like someone else. Within the realm of what’s socially acceptable, Halloween has culturally shifted its purpose to a youth culture so that everyone gets a free pass to dress scantily on Oct. 31.
I don’t think it’s wrong for a woman to want to dress sexy, if that’s her thing, because Halloween costumes should still make you feel good, whether funny, powerful, scary, sexy or beautiful. They’re designed to have fun in, but it still freaks me out that my girl cousins will grow up and eventually feel the need to dress like a “sexy witch” or a “sexy kitten,” or “sexy” anything, because that’s what’s available to them.
One of my first actual Halloween memories dates back to kindergarten at a Halloween event in school. I was dressed as an angel, and my friend was Jasmine from the Disney movie “Aladdin.” My mom snapped a photo of us in the cafeteria, and looking back, my angel costume would be sold today as “frumpy angel” under some “ironic” costume category. It was a cute costume, but next to my friend’s illusion-netting midriff and off-the-shoulder bra-top, I look extra holy – thanks girl, for making that costume work for me. It’s the equivalent of the “I’m with stupid” T-shirt, but way more innocent.
Girls in middle school were crazy, probably due to the excitement of waking up one day and finding boobs, and that’s when I really noticed the “sexy” Halloween costume trend. Soon themes were nothing more than a color scheme to a sea of outfits comprised of triangle tops and tutus.
Does that sound like your basic Ultra Music Festival girl? That’s because it is, and it’s sub-categorized as “Rave Wear” under an entire section of “Sexy Costumes” on Partycity.com.
Looking closer at costumes made distinctively for women or girls, there’s not that much of a difference. An adult “Strawberry Shortcake” costume and a tween and child “Strawberry Shortcake” costume are practically the same, just outgrown and worn by a fully-developed woman, hence the over-all shrunken look of it all. Well, from a fashion standpoint, they are different, but in a harrowing way. The adult costume has more frills and is overall more infantilized than the child versions.
Children can’t wear costumes with the words “mischievous” or “naughty” in it without alluding to some adult male’s sexual fantasy later on in life. The problem with “sexy” also brings about the issue of sexy costumes that are inappropriate or racist, like “sexy Indian”, “sexy nun,” “sexy geisha,” or “sexy Mexican.”
I never dressed sexy on Halloween because it wasn’t me, and I felt uncomfortable around girls who dressed that way specifically for the purpose of getting a boy’s attention. I might have always been Cady Heron in “Mean Girls” before she realized what Halloween actually meant. So sexy costumes are no big deal to an adult crowd, but it’d be nice to see the holiday removed from sexual connotations, especially for the younger crowd. If you’re not creative enough and go the sexy route because it’s what’s easy and readily available, when all else fails: “I’m a mouse, duh!”