Do you feel that? It’s the rush to find a last-minute Halloween costume the week before Halloween, just any dumb costume that makes even a little sense, if only to stave off the all but inevitable time-honored tradition of staying home and watching Archie’s Weird Mysteries while eating discount gummy candy in the dark.
Your choice for Halloween costume says a lot about you. It can tell people that you’re clever (wordplay costumes that exhaust everyone else), or that you’re pragmatic (dressing up like someone you already look like—I happen to bear an uncanny resemblance to Ursula from The Little Mermaid), or that you’re social (ironic group costumes, probably Tetris, possibly a horse).
Then, of course, there are the Halloween costumes that show the world exactly how slutty you are deep down inside, you slutty slut-face.
It’s no great secret that girls are pressured to be both Madonna and whore, and this is never better encapsulated than during Halloween. Do I cover up so that people don’t criticize me and, in turn, feel ignored? Or do I strip down so that people think I look great, but get stoned for being the village trollop?
Not to get all Feminism 101, but it is very much still only women who field criticism for skimpy costumes. Do you know how easy it is to spend Halloween as a shirtless bro “ironically” flexing his muscles at pretty girls? Very. It is very easy. I’ve never been to Scotland but I don’t think this is traditional garb.
Far worse, often, is salaciousness taking the place of any semblance of creativity. This is the problem (well, one of the problems) inherent in people dressing up in blackface or thoughtlessly, egregiously re-appropriating other cultures and their iconography and history. It’s rarely clever and it’s never cute. Oh, you’re a “Naughty Navajo?” Are you “Hot On The Trail?” Good for you, with your dollar store feathers and glue gun, possibly even more offensive for its laziness than for its offensiveness.
And this is to say nothing of companies setting fire to the already occasionally thin line between your average Halloween costume and a cheaply made lingerie set. When was the last time you saw a nurse dress like that? Sexy crayon? What does that even mean?
This is mostly just a waste of your money. You can probably recreate most of these costumes at home. Wear your favourite bra with a pair of cat ears! (And hope that you don’t run into your dad.) Dress up as Wednesday Addams! (Really tap into your daddy issues—guys love that.) Sport some green makeup and a pointy hat! (You’re a witch that will have sex with everyone. Except your dad.)
Of course, as with so many of these dumb arguments, it’s women who are the least forgiving about what other women are up to.
Earlier this week, Parks and Recreation star Rashida Jones tweeted a brief rant about how female celebrities carry themselves, saying, “This week’s celeb news takeaway: she who comes closest to showing the actual inside of her vagina is most popular #stopactinglikewhores,” ostensibly shot at Kim Kardashian, who had posted a picture of her own ass on Instagram. (At least Kim knows where her bread is buttered, and it’s buttered on her butt on the Internet.)
Jones, of course, deleted the tweets—no one likes a Judas—but it’s not like she’s ever been photographed wearing comparatively little or maybe angling her own butt-hole to the camera. But to each her own. That’s the whole point.
The simple fact of how our clothes are worn and how we photograph ourselves is a political issue for women. It’s that line between using our looks too much or feeling restricted in how we want to use our looks. Am I dressing like this because I want to or because I feel like I have to?
And if Halloween is the only time during the year when I can dress up in my sexy penguin costume, I will take that day and wear it with pride, because why not? Halloween is stupid and the costumes are ludicrous but they are fun. It’s the only time, realistically, when women can wear whatever they want, show however much leg, and shoving their boobs into everyone’s faces without Reddit accusing them of asking for rape.
So wear your skimpy bunny costumes, your historically improbable pirate dress, or that sexy Elmo suit you’ve had in the back of your closet for ages. Who is anyone to say that you shouldn’t?
One caveat: please don’t dress up like Miley Cyrus. I can’t handle seeing one more listless, fuzzy white tongue.