Halloween is supposed to be a time for haunted houses, fright nights, and Paranormal Activity marathons, yet it has become the time for “sexy fill in the blank” costumes. With the Halloween costume industry annually earning over seven billion dollars, it is troubling to see how much of the industry is due to sales of sexy costumes.
For girls, it is difficult to stay modest on Halloween. Halloween is when it is even more apparent how sexualized women are in the media. Sexy nurse, mermaid, jail bird, firefighter; there’s even a “sexy” Nemo costume in stores. It’s absurd that manufacturers find it so important to alter women’s costumes that they sexualize a clown fish.
Costume companies are attempting to get women to pay upwards to $80 for as little material as possible. Tight lace up corsets, short dresses, high heels, and V-shaped necklines are especially common. Yet for some reason, with the similar price and costume, men are able to get much more fabric.
The issue however, is not the cut and design of the majority of Halloween costumes for women. After all, the amount of material that one chooses to wear does not dictate one’s self-worth. Clothing does not affect the amount of value that someone has. The real problem is how women are finding it increasingly difficult to find a costume that is not sexualized, but true to its character.
While men can choose between hundreds of ridiculous and funny costumes, women are stuck with “Sexy Cookie Monster” or even more ridiculous, “Sexy Chucky.” Perhaps even more troubling than this gender discrepancy is how even young girls are being fed sexualized identities. Even Disney costumes geared towards kindergarteners are increasingly having shorter hems and lower necklines. Although DIY costumes are an option, there is no denying how nice it would be to be able to step into a Halloween store and not have to scour the racks to find a costume that isn’t provocative.
This is alarming in the light of recent studies conducted by social scientists that have found that the exposure to sexualized messages is associated with body dissatisfaction, disordered eating, low self-esteem and depression among adult women. While the act of wearing a sexy costume for one day may not impact a young girl’s development, the general underlying idea that being sexually alluring is important, is harmful.
When looking at this issue solely in regards to Halloween, it may not seem like a big issue. After all, it is only one day of the year. Why make a fuss out of costumes? However, it becomes a problem when Halloween is a manifestation of a society where women are valued for their physical and sexual attraction above anything else. This annual flood of skimpy Halloween costumes in our stores is a portrayal of our general attitude towards women. So this Halloween, let’s pull out our funky Elvis and Buffy costumes and fight against the sexualized norm.