Sexist Halloween Costumes


“In the regular world, Halloween is when children dress up in costumes and beg for candy. In Girl World, Halloween is the one night a year when a girl can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.” We all laughed when Mean Girls’ Cady Heron attended a Halloween party in a head to toe “ex-wife” costume while the other girls wore various pieces of lingerie with different animal ears. But the ridiculousness of this situation is not far from reality. Halloween has become a holiday to put pressure on girls to parade around in their underwear.

Women are given two choices on Halloween: be really sexy, or really not. (Mandy LeScum/Stock.xchng)

Each fall, people young and old get excited to prepare for Halloween. We ask ourselves: Should I be scary or funny? Should I have a couples or group costume? Or should I do my own thing? Should I buy my costume or put pieces together from random old costumes and things around my house? However, women are ultimately left with one dilemma: Should I be sexy, or not? The answer to this question usually gets answered while standing in front of the costume wall at Party City, and realizing that every costume meant for girls aged 14+ are prefaced with the adjective “sexy.” There is no in-between. You’re either laughably unsexy (take Cady Heron, for example), or barely wearing anything.

For many, it seems as though there isn’t even effort to break the stereotype of hyper-sexualized (or, as some like myself see it, sexist) aspect of women’s Halloween costumes. Just this past “Halloweekend,” I was scrolling through Facebook with a frustrated friend who exclaimed after seeing various party pictures, “If I see one more sexy cat costume I am going to lose it! These girls are so unfortunate!” And I agreed; there couldn’t be more truth to that statement. Where is the creativity we all had in elementary school about Halloween?

My new favorite blog of the season on Tumblr, F-ck No Sexist Halloween Costumes, compares side-by-side costumes meant for men with the same costumes meant for women. The results? Costumes that are more practical given that Halloween is usually cold…and actually look like the real thing, versus skimpy dresses that are sort-of trying. Of the costumes, my favorites included the crayon versus the “sexy crayon,” the banana suit versus the half-peeled skin tight dress for women, and childhood favorite Teletubbies—a full-body costume resembling the TV characters for men, with the female counterpart being a mini dress with a headpiece. There is even a picture comparing a male Power Ranger to a female Power Ranger, where the female costume is a mini dress, go-go boots, and an eye mask. Last time I checked the girl Power Ranger wore the same thing as the boys…and kicked just as much butt doing so!

The sexism of Halloween does not lie in sexy women’s costumes. If a woman is confident with her body, why not go for the “sexy nurse,” or “sexy cop?” If you’ve got it, flaunt it, right? The real problem is with the choices women have. You’re either a hamburger or a sexy hamburger. It’s kind of ridiculous the way some costumes are sexualized, as I don’t know of many people who correlate the term “sexy” to hamburgers, crayons, or bacon. Regardless, dressing up sexy is fine, but there needs to be choices for women to dress up in costumes that are more modest, practical, and most importantly, don’t objectify them.