The last time I dressed up for Halloween was in sophomore year of high school. The only reason I did so was because I was invited to a costume party, and luckily I was able to find a decent and fun outfit. The bodice was tighter than I would have liked, but to my relief the tanned knee-length Pocahontas dress did not expose much skin.
I thought that it might be fun to dress up again this year, especially since my roommate and I signed up to have the Rowan Towers’ children visit our dorms for trick-or-treating. With this idea in mind, I went to Party City over Fall Break to find a costume suitable for myself and for would-be trick-or-treaters.
Not having gone costume shopping in a couple of years, I was a little stunned and dazed from what I saw. Gone were the cute little animal and character outfits. Instead, I saw sexed-up versions of Little Red Riding Hood (who looked like she was visiting someone other than her grandmother) and Goldilocks (who looked like she had slept in everyone’s bed except her own).
Other characters in this category included the “Sexy Convict” (armed with her own pair of handcuffs), “Gangster Girl Garter Dress” (the title explains it all) and the ever-popular “School Girl,” dressed in a white, chest-baring button-down shirt tied at the midriff and paired with an extremely short plaid skirt and hair tied in pigtails. There was even a “Vixen Pirate”!
Other female-gendered costumes included women dressed as nurses, waitresses, devil(ette)s and “Satan’s Little Helper,” all commonly clothed in short skirts, stiletto heels and fish-net stockings. The costumes for the boys, on the other hand, were (in my opinion) more fun things like cars, robots, vampires and even computers.
In my (humble) opinion, the female-gendered costumes were crude, tasteless and fairly insulting. Not only are they targeted to a single-specific audience, they are also responsible for sending the wrong messages to impressionable young girls who try so hard today to be just like their celebrity heroines. Some of the aforementioned costumes weren’t even marked “Adult” at the store; they were simply stuffed on the shelves with everything else.
I am not against the freedom of expression through a person’s style of clothes. Indeed, I applaud those women who are comfortable with their body and their sexuality — it is obvious that I am not. However, I find it disconcerting that I am unable to purchase something halfway decent because most of the costumes marketed for consumers today reinforce the same messages brought to us by the media: For a woman to command attention, she must be model-thin, dressed in skin-tight clothes and/or expose a fair amount of skin. I can’t even recall the last time I saw a show that didn’t reinforce these messages. With the fun intentions aside, I finally left the store unsatisfied and without a costume.
Even though these costumes are just made for one specific occasion, I think that it expresses a lot of ideas and stereotypes that this mass-media culture perpetuates and in which the general society partakes.