Sexy Halloween Costumes: A dangerous trick or a fun little treat? The debate over sexy costumes rages on…
Halloween is always a fun time of year. It’s the one night when you don’t look crazy for dressing up like a ketchup bottle or an astronaut. Want to be a mermaid or maybe your favorite Game of Thrones character? Anything is possible. But with the array of possibilities, why is it that costumes for women have become little more than stripper outfits?
Over the years, options for women’s costumes have become fewer and fewer. Walk into your local Halloween store and you’ll see what I mean. You’ll find plenty of outfit choices, but ninety nine percent of them will have about as much fabric as a handkerchief and would look more appropriate in an adult store than on your local neighborhood streets.
The Origin of Halloween Costumes- From sacred ritual to trick or treat
When Oct 31st was first celebrated, costumes used to have a more sacred meaning. Halloween, or Samhain as the ancient Celts once called it, was once considered a special time when the ghosts of the dead could return to earth. To celebrate this harvest ritual, the Celts lit bonfires and wore costumes to ward off roaming ghosts.
Much later, in the second half of the nineteenth century, Americans dressed up in costumes for different reasons. Borrowing from Irish and English traditions, people would don their costumes and would travel from house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today’s “trick-or-treat” tradition. Young women even believed that on Halloween they could divine the name or appearance of their future husband by doing tricks with yarn, apple parings or mirrors.
Eventually Halloween was made family-friendly and was sanitized into the more innocent festivities we know today. Dressing up in something silly was part of the fun. But, in the last few decades, it seems like Halloween and sex have become entwined and more and more women are feeling the pressure to be overly sexy.
But, the debate rages on about the impact of such sexy costumes and what kind of message it’s sending to young women.
Sexy costumes may not be an Innocent treat... Why?
♦ Is your body the only interesting thing about you? That may be the message we’re sending by wearing revealing costumes at Halloween. After all, young girls look to us women as role models and if we send the message that dressing sexy is the only way to attract attention, this next generation of women is in deep trouble. Sexy costumes will keep spiraling into further depths as we get used to the idea that Halloween equals sex.
♦ It takes away from individuality. “When you’re dressing slutty as a character … you’re categorized with everyone else who is dressed like that to a certain extent,” explains Noelle Lurie, a senior in the College of Health and Human Science’s apparel design and technology major. “It’s something people don’t think about, and it really takes away your individuality. As a fashion major, it’s sad that people have lost the creativity and innovation.”
♦ It can sometimes make you seem immature. Acting overtly sexy is something that young and confused girls often do in an attempt to win approval and validation from boys. Anyone over the age of 16 does not need a sexy costume to feel good about themselves. They need better self- esteem.
♦ Gender stereotypes are also supported by sexy Halloween costumes. Dr. Nelson, a professor of sociology at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, found that even costumes for little girls were distinctly gendered. Boys got to be computers while the girls were cupcakes. There are "Career Costumes" for women and teenagers, but they’re often highly sexualised versions of male occupations. On many costume websites, stores serve twice as many"occupation" category choices (i.e. fireman, doctor, police chief) for boys than for girls. And most girl costumes are designed with mini-skirt motifs. It seems like, yes, you can be a female police officer or a teacher for Halloween, but the skirt has to be thigh high and apparently you have to have 9 inch stilettos (as if you could actually perform these jobs in 9 inch see-through heels.)
♦ The pressure to look sexy, even for holidays, says something about our society. As Tanda Word, a graduate student at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, put it: “I think it’s damaging because it’s not just one night a year. If it’s all the costume manufacturers make, I think it says something bigger about the culture as a whole.” In other words, if sex has leaked into our holiday festivities, which means it’s also permeated our entire culture and has become a dominant feature of who we are as a people. This is a very disturbing thought.
♦ Sexy has, sadly, eclipsed other costume options. Mark Pearson, founder of My Voucher Codes, who commissioned the study, commented on the findings: “Halloween is meant to be a time where you dress up in scary costumes, not sexy. Our results show that many women feel that the choice available to them is not equal to men’s choices with the main focus of the outfit being sexy rather than scary.”
Why not Indulge in a Sexy Halloween? It's a wicked trick that all can enjoy...
Sexiness is not the worst evil out there and some people claim that a little fun with dress up, especially on Halloween, is both healthy and exciting. Here’s what the other half has to say in defense of a sexy Halloween:
♥ Sexy costumes can be a healthy expression of your individual sexuality. “Halloween costumes present women with the opportunity to express their sexuality,” Glasgow also explains. “Its one day out of the year where we get a pass from all the slut-shaming, and that makes it powerful.” In fact, many women think that showing off their bodies “is a mark of independence and security and confidence,” says Pat Gill, the interim director of the Institute of Communications Research and a professor of gender and women’s studies at the University of Illinois.
$1 ♥ It provides an escape from the dreariness of your everyday clothes. As Rebecca Colby, a library clerk in Milwaukee, explains: “The appeal of sexy costumes lies in escaping the workaday, ho-hum dress code. I’m not normally going to wear a corset to go out,” said Ms. Colby, who has masqueraded as a Gothic witch with a low-cut bodice. To her, “it’s just a fun opportunity to go out to a party or bar and to look cute and sexy and feminine.”
♥ You get to explore your sexual fantasies, free from judgement, if just for one night. As Lindsay Lohan’s character states in Mean Girls, “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.” Halloween is about living out fantasies, no matter what their origin. “It’s a night when even a nice girl can dress like a dominatrix and still hold her head up the next morning,” said Linda M. Scott, the author of “Fresh Lipstick: Redressing Fashion and Feminism” (Palgrave Macmillan) and a professor of marketing at the University of Oxford in England. So, we dress up to embody what frightens or excites us, what fascinates and intrigues us and if that leads to a sexy costume, so what? It’s self-expression, pure and simple.
♥ Sexy will always be a part of Halloween because people seem to love it. The only reason the industry is so big on sexy outfits is that women keep buying them. A costume salesperson revealed that her store now required three different "sexy" categories to help customers sift through the expansive cleavage-happy inventory. Supply, she argued, has merely ballooned to meet annual demand.
♥ Being ironically sexy can make a powerful statement. Dr. Deborah Tolman, founder of the Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality explains that, for some women, Halloween is a “safe space,” a time to play with sexuality. “By taking it over the top,” she said, they “make fun of this bill of goods that’s being sold to them.” And she adds: “Hey, if we can claim Halloween as a safe space to question these images being sold to us, I think that’s a great idea.”
After hearing both sides, you may still be determined to look sexy this Halloween. But, it’s important to keep it classy or at least funny, just so you don’t veer into street walker territory. Here are some tips for staying sexy without going too far:
Tips on Dressing Sexy but not Slutty
$ Use humour in your costume. Humor can actually diffuse the more unsavory aspects of a sexy outfit, explains Dr. Tolman. Sexy costumes can be empowering for women because it allows them to make fun of gender stereotypes. So be sexy if you want, but maybe try an ironic approach like dressing as a sexy lunch lady or a drowned beauty queen.
Choose your body parts carefully. “The rule of being sexy in fashion is that you’re only supposed to reveal one part of your body,” says Noelle Lurie, a senior in the College of Health and Human Science’s apparel design and technology major. “Whether it’s your neck, your arms, or your legs. If you’re revealing both your legs, your neck and your cleavage, you’re not being sexy; it’s too much.” Pick one area to display, like your legs, or maybe showcase your cleavage in a low-cut dress. But, don’t do both. That’s when you veer from straight up fun to straight up hooker.
Don’t try to win the prize for sluttiest costume. …You and your friends may like to see who can get away with the most daring dress up, but don’t feel pressured to dress sexy if that’s not what you’re about. Wear what feels comfortable to you and something that you can actually move in. There’s nothing less sexy than a woman pulling and tugging at her hem all night because she doesn’t feel comfortable in what she’s wearing.
Wear underwear. I shouldn’t have to mention this. It should be a no-brainer, but please, unless you’re donning solid, non-see-through leggings, wear some form of undies. Also, make sure your lady parts are well-groomed if you’re costume cuts high on your legs or if you’re wearing a bodysuit with see-through tights. The last thing people want to see is a surprise flash of bush when you walk into the party. Book a Brazilian wax or some laser hair removal for a smooth skin and a hair-free night.
Instead of all-out sexy, add subtle, feminine touches to your costume. You can be sexy without always opting for the shortest skirt. Sexiness can also come from little finishing touches that boost your feminine charms, such as gorgeously decorated nails or long, sexy Lash Extensions (See our CANDYLash line for glittery lashes that come in a variety of colours). Even a pair of high heels can add glam and sexiness to the most boring of costumes.
For more costume ideas that add sexiness without going overboard, see this article: http://thoughtcatalog.com/kara-nesvig/2014/10/11-sexy-not-slutty-halloween-costumes/
And have a Happy Halloween! From all the Team at Élan Beauty!
Sources: (Images: From Top to Bottom: Patrick Subotkiewiez- Halloween- via Flickr; Mathilda Samuelsson- Sweet sexy white christmas angel- via Flickr; Mathilda Samuelsson- Sexy devil engel kostüm - via Flickr; Frank Kovalchek- Alicia and Rachel - via Flickr)
Topics: Halloween- History Network Online, url: http://www.history.com/topics/halloween/history-of-halloween
A Brief History of Sexy Halloween Costumes By Cristen Conger- Huffington Post; url: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/cristen-conger/a-brief-history-of-sexy-halloween-costumes_b_4158119.html
In defense of slutty Halloween By Devon Scoble; theloop.ca; url: http://www.theloop.ca/in-defense-of-slutty-halloween/
Women's Halloween costumes: Is it OK to dress sexy? By Kate Lewis; Exponent Online; url: http://www.purdueexponent.org/features/article_2df6509e-f303-556c-843c-13ffe8d65fb4.html
Why are Halloween costumes so ‘slutty’? By Hadley Freeman; The Guardian.com; url: http://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2014/oct/20/halloween-costumes-slutty-sexy-witch-women-creativity-boob
Good Girls Go Bad, for a Day By Stephanie Rosenbloom; url: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/19/fashion/19costume.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
Killing Sexy Halloween: The Ethical and Practical Complication By Eleanor Barkhorn; url: http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2012/10/killing-sexy-halloween-the-ethical-and-practical-complications/264212/
Isn't Halloween supposed to be scary, not sexy? By Katy Winter; Mail Online; url: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2801469/Isn-t-Halloween-supposed-scary-not-sexy-spooky-day-approaches-half-Brits-say-women-s-outfits-saucy-say-children-s-aren-t-age-appropriate.html#ixzz3HT2QL2eu