Saturday, October 10, 2009

My Thoughts on Sexy Costumes

I don't even know how to begin this post and I'm sure you've seen rants about this topic every year for about five years now, since the sexy costume trend never seems to end.   Well, let me start by saying, why is the only choice for us women? I always wonder about those in extremely cold climates.  I live in California, where the late fall weather can be unpredictable. I can recall a few years ago, it was very hot during the last week of October, then on Halloween, it suddenly got cold.  Right now, they're expecting rain sometime during the coming week. 

Even though I'm not a parent, every year I expect to see articles on how costumes for young girls seems to be following the sexy trend as well, and how parents become angered over this trend. This article from the Washington Post two years ago looks at this trend.   

Gabby Cirenza wanted to be a referee for Halloween. The outfit she liked had a micro-mini black skirt and a form-fitting black and white-striped spandex top held together with black laces running up the flesh-exposing sides. She looked admiringly at the thigh-high black go-go boots that could be bought as an accessory. And she thought the little bunny on the chest was cute.

"Absolutely not," said her mother, Cheryl. "That is so not happening."

Gabby is 11.

Such an awkward age.  Many 11-year-olds are too big for one thing and not big enough for another.   Too old for one thing, but not old enough for another.  At 11, I was too big for kids clothes, but had no desire to wear small women's-sized clothes just yet.   And I shudder to think what would have happened if this sexy costume trend had been around then. When I was that age,  I wore a homemade Miss Piggy costume.  

And the Playboy Racy Referee costume was only the latest that her mother had vetoed one pre-Halloween-crazed afternoon at Party City in Baileys Crossroads as too skimpy, too revealing, too suggestive . .....

No referee outfits other than the Playboy one were available?  But then again, if others were available, they probably would have been sexy ones as well.  

.....Cheryl Cirenza shook her head in exasperated disbelief. "This is all so inappropriate. It's really disturbing," she said, eyeing a wall of such girl and preteen costumes as Major Flirt in army green, the bellybutton-baring Devilicious and a sassy, miniskirted French Maid, pink feather duster included. She'd just turned down her 13-year-old daughter's request for a Sexy Cop outfit. "When I was their age, I was a bunch of grapes."

Ha, she needs to see this costume!   

Something from the Washington Post article that has always bothered me:

When it comes to Halloween costumes, boys can still be ninjas, doctors and mad scientists. A box of popcorn, even. Men can still be bananas or beer cans. ....

I always thought food, beverage, inatimate objects and various humorous costumes were designed for both genders!  A girl I used to work with even came as a banana two years ago, when the above article was written!  Apparently people think that these are now for men only.   But I see no reason for that. All of you women out there who've been bothered by the lack options other than "sexy this-or-that" did you ever consider this: If I went into a store and bough a banana or beer can, would someone tell me I can't wear those because I'm a  woman? Would they tell me to get a  "sexy___" instead?  If I want to do this ever, I will!  If a man can humorously put on a dress, then there is no reason a woman can't wear a beer can costume.  

At least most people believe the tourist costume is a unisex one.  Almost ever site that sells this one has both a man and woman modelling it, with the woman on the left side of the photo:

Tacky Tourist Adult Costume  

Tacky Traveler  Adult Costume

(More on unisex and gender stereotypes in costumes in another blog entry later.)  

"Youth isn't being lived through anymore. It's being rushed through," Stephanie Terrazas, 20, said as she watched her 11-year-old sister pick out a "deluxe" sequined Dorothy dress that, unlike the chaste, high-necked one in the little girl size, was lower cut and had two strategically placed poofs of fabric.

Megan Smith, 16, perused the costumes at Party City with her father, Dan. She first tried on the Prisoner, a slinky spandex number with a little button at the throat and open chest like a '70s disco halter dress. She settled on Raggedy Ann, a blue mini dress so mini that the lacy underskirt barely dusts the bottom of the fanny.

See how short and sexy these things can be?  And once-innocent characters such Raggedy Ann, Goldilocks, Red Riding Hood and Dorothy from "The Wizard of Oz" become "sluttified" as many have called it.  

No one does scary costumes anymore, Megan said. Blame that on the teen movie "Mean Girls," she said, quoting a line verbatim: "Halloween is the one night a year when girls can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it."

Think witches can't be sexy? Think again.  Almost everything for girls is either "pretty or sexy and even itches and vampires are often 'pretty-princess-ed' up."

And when Lindsey Lohan's character goes as some Bride of Frankenstein knockoff to a party, the other girls who are wearing lingerie and animal ears ask her why's she dressed so scary. She replies that "It's Halloween."  Yeah, why does no one do scary costumes anymore, but still put up scary decorations and displays and play scary sound effects? 

Another article on sexy costumes for young girls stated the following:

Dana and I were searching online for a Halloween witch costume for Emmeline, and we noticed that while boys have a lot of simple, innocent options -- cop, fireman, astronaut, Rosie O'Donnell -- girls, even very young girls, are left with slightly more disturbing options.

Witch slut. Witch whore. Baby witch cheerleader slut. From hell. Who dresses their kids in this crap?

...It got worse as the girl costumes got older, as if every year in a girl's life means another inch of skirt above the knee.

And it had me wondering.

"Would anyone ever sell a Chippendale outfit for young boys? Would a parent ever buy one?"

Of course not.  

Um, maybe they don't sell them, but take a look at this.

In this op-ed piece from the New York Times in 2006, the author stated the following:

I noticed that on the outside of every package was a photo of a woman modeling not only the costume, but teetering heels and bras of the push-up variety. The First Lady costume was not, as one might expect, a red business suit, but a pink crepe mini-dress. At least it had the matching pillbox hat. The angel was dubbed “heaven’s hottie.” Even the witch had a slit up her tattered skirt.

My girls were confused. “Where are the monsters?” they asked. “Where are the superheroes?” I pointed weakly to Wonder Woman and her thigh-high boots. “She’s pretty,” said my 4-year-old. Before adding, “You can see her breasts."

See how long this has been going on? 

A series of costumes for the Seven Deadly Sins was released last year and while you'd think only the one representing Lust would be sexy, think again.  Sloth contains midriff-bearing pajamas with slits in the legs.  And Greed seems to be showing more midriff than monetary desire.   Does anyone Envy this midriff-bearing person?  Pride has a short skirt with corset-like laces.  Shouldn't Gluttony be fat and not sexy? And Wrath bears the midriff as well?  Last year I did the Seven Deadly Sins (all of them at once) and the only sexy part was Lust, naturally, represented by fishnet stockings and lacy garters.  

Someone wrote the following in response to this blog entry:

I have noticed the lack of appropriate costumes for women, so now I always make my costumes. And "making a costume" doesn't have to involve any sewing or hard work! I would definitely suggest shopping for halloween costume clothes at a thrift store. Last year my boyfriend and I went as Jack & Jill (after falling down the hill). I just wore a long skirt, tights, a sweater, a sign that said "Jill" and I carried a "pail of water" that was actually full of candy! We also added some fake gashes and stuff using wax & latex! Then we went to a party full of "sexy ___" and everyone was so jealous of my costume! Especially the fake wounds! And the fact that I wasn't freezing my butt off!!! This year we are going as Rachel Maddow & Keith Olbermann from msnbc.

Yeah, to those who were complaining about freezing their butts off, it should be obvious why that was happening!  

This is only scratching the surface of what I want to say on this topic. There's so much more to say about all this.  Not only sexiness, but gender stereotypes, which I plan to rant about in another post later. 

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