October 16, 2006

Halloween costumes for females...

... none of whom seem to want to indulge in the freedom to be ugly and horrifying anymore. Every single damned costume is about looking even sexier than ever:
A theme was emerging. And it wasn’t Halloween. Since when did Halloween costumes become marital aids? The hobo has turned into the Hillbilly Honey. The traditional vampire is now the Mistress of Darkness. I have nothing against playing erotic dress-up, or even mass-market fetishism. I’d just prefer it didn’t converge with a family holiday (and wasn’t sold next to the dryer sheets). If you want to play cheerleader at home, go team. But trick-or-treating with your children in anything featuring latex and cleavage seems like a little too much trick....

I noticed that on the outside of every package was a photo of a woman modeling not only the costume, but teetering heels and bras of the push-up variety. The First Lady costume was not, as one might expect, a red business suit, but a pink crepe mini-dress. At least it had the matching pillbox hat. The angel was dubbed “heaven’s hottie.” Even the witch had a slit up her tattered skirt.

My girls were confused. “Where are the monsters?” they asked. “Where are the superheroes?” I pointed weakly to Wonder Woman and her thigh-high boots. “She’s pretty,” said my 4-year-old. Before adding, “You can see her breasts.
It's pretty lame that young women feel they must use Halloween as another day in the endless pursuit of male love, but why are the guys free to amuse themselves in more manifold ways? Perhaps because women think that it's sexy for a guy to be funny. But I wonder what the men would wear if they -- like the women -- thought overwhelmingly about looking sexually appealing to women?

51 comments:

faster said...

Dollar bills?

MadisonMan said...

See, this trend could be stopped if people everywhere, when answering the door to see a tarted-up five year old, would ask the parent if their child is dressed up as a hooker.

Maybe it's just as well that I'm not at the house on Halloween night this year.

I'll add that there's no reason this woman (or the kids' dad) couldn't buy her kids a boy's costume -- a monster, or gorilla, or what-have-you. Or even make her kids a costume.

Anonymous said...

I know I talk a lot, but I'm actually very sparing in giving people advice. I observe and report, but that's not advice.

Here's some advice:

Never pick up a girl at a costume party.

Kyle said...

As a regular atendee of my city's Halloween bar loop I have noticed this trend with two thumbs up and a huge grin. Of course the "Devil's Candy" costume on a 5 year old is a completely different monster than on a 26 year old who won't give me her number.

Joseph Hovsep said...

Is this really new? I thought it has long been common for twenty-something-aged women to wear sexy Halloween costumes for the same reason they'd wear sexy clothes to any party. In fact, aren't sexy costumes for masquerade parties historically more the norm than big plush pumpkin costumes? But I've also been to recent Halloween parties where women weren't wearing sexy costumes, especially after a certain age. I'd guess the marketing of adult costumes focuses heavily on young adults who are more likely to have sex and dating on their minds.

And men also wear sexy costumes (e.g., superheroes), or at least deliberately try to convey some some sex appeal at Halloween parties, though its less common.

NSC said...

I am a big Halloween fan and as a result I am at the door every year giving out candy, and for the life of me I cannot recall actually seeing any young child (say up to 12 or so) wearing one of these sexy costumes. I see "girlie" costumes on the girls, but they always seem to be the sweet and innocent type like princesses or the "good witch" from the Wizard of Oz. And as to the teen trick or treaters, most of those kids don't wear any costume at all, prefering to show up in street clothes with some lame mask and a bag for goodies.

Which makes me wonder - are these sexy costumes selling well at all? And if they are, are the girls actually wearing them?

As an aside, I am going to our annual big neighborhood party this weekend dressed as a doctor. Guess which speciality? And yes, it is an all adult party.

Joseph Hovsep said...

nsc: The article is about sexy costumes for adults, not kids.

Pogo said...

At my son's school, any costume that might be "violent" (i.e. monsters, superheroes) were banned.

As for adult women dressing up this way, it's just one more step in the pornstarring of America. When the burka-clad meet the unclad, I wonder who'll win?

George said...

It's ironic that the author of the essay appears to be the former author of GQ's "Ask Dr. Sooth," a monthly sex advice column.

http://www.salon.com/media/1998/01/21media.html

Time and children change a lot of things.

Zach said...

I wonder if part of the point isn't to distinguish one's self from little kids who are also dressing up on Halloween. (I feel sure I was promised that after High School or so I wouldn't have to dress up. Can't we have a rule where if nobody would give you candy as a Trick-or-Treater you don't have to dress up anymore?)

If half of the message of Halloween was that you're not doing the childish version of the same thing, I could see that pushing towards sexy versions of the costumes. I don't know why this wouldn't affect guys the same way, but then again, I'm not even sure what the male equivalent of this dress would be. Plus, hypersexualized male costumes always seem vaguely effeminate, so maybe reluctance to look gay holds the men back.

charlotte said...

See, this trend could be stopped if people everywhere, when answering the door to see a tarted-up five year old, would ask the parent if their child is dressed up as a hooker.

Funny you should mention this, MadisonMan. Two years ago I asked a five year-old boy and his younger sister who they were as they were scooping out candies into their bags. His answer: "I'm a pimp, and this is my ho."

Am conflicted whether it was a good thing or bad that they seemed to have parents waiting for them on the sidewalk.

Bo Steed said...

Although I am 5'4" or so, every year I dress as Abraham Lincoln and, rather than giving the rugrats candy, I simply recite to them The Gettysburg Address. Better to edify than spoil, I say.

Henry said...

This sounds like one of Tyler Cowen's Markets in Everything topics.

We recently received a flyer from some local department store with several hundred costumes, for all age groups and sexes. I was a little surprised that the sexy witch line started in the miss sizes, but it wasn't like there weren't other options. Goth witch, for example. And none of the little girl costumes were tart-lite.

It's true, most of the male adult costumes were humorous. The closest to a sexy man costume was a "love magnet" outfit. Maybe men are smart enough to know that wearing a "sexy" costume won't make you look sexy. It'll make you look like a pervert.

As for the kids, both of them (boy and girl) want to be Lightning McQueen and voila, there was the whole Cars line up.

The Jerk said...

Part of this trend is to take a normal costume, alter it, and append "slutty" to the description. So Pumpkin becomes "Slutty Pumpkin," etc. When I was in law school, at least half the women at a given halloween party would dress as "Slutty X."

http://www.halloweenmart.com/slutty-halloween-costumes.html

AllenS said...

The Johnson Smith Company has a website called:

thingsyouneverknewexisted

Check out their costumes. Truely, the most bizarre costumes anywhere.

NSC said...

Joseph,

I realize it was about costumes for adults, but there is a lot of talk around the sphere about sexy costumes for teens and kids down to even eight years old. Who cares if an adult wears a sexy costume and for what reason - to worry about that is to have little else to worry about -- but sexy costumes for teens is worth chatting about.

Slac said...

Funny story: After my college graduation, I thought about uses for my cap and gown, or lack thereof. I'd have to be a real loser to wear it as a halloween costume.

Then my dad said, "don't throw it away, at least it makes a great Halloween costume."

Dave said...

I'm gonna be Jenna Jameson for Halloween.

She is an American hero, just like GI Joe!

Billy said...

Does anyone remember the Onion's list of top Halloween costumes from four or five years ago? Everything on the list was "Sexy" something or other, and the best one was "Sexy Ketchup Bottle."

MadisonMan said...

Boy, my reading comprehension has died. It never dawned on me that the complaint was about adult costumes. See, I don't get dressed up for Halloween 'cause I'm an adult and Halloween is a kid holiday. But I'll amend my earlier comment: this women (and if it is the former sex columnist, this article is screamingly funny) should make her own ears. It would take 10 minutes.

I hope she answered the "where's the monsters" query with "Apparently Target thinks only men can be monsters -- isn't that stupid?"

Ron said...

Yo, where my witches at?

When the burka-clad meet the unclad, I wonder who'll win?

I'll take the naked women and points.

Goesh said...

Years ago as an undergrad, I had freind who was blind. He would always go to Halloween parties wearing a plain brown grocery sack over his head with no holes for eyes.

tiggeril said...

Man. I don't have the physique to dress up for Halloween anymore.

Shanna said...

As "Mean Girls" so aptly put it: "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. The hardcore girls just wear lingerie and some form of animal ears."

Point? This isn't new. Halloween is the only holiday that is purely for fun, candy and costumes. And if you are going to a party or a club and you are a woman you don't want to look like a shapeless sack, hence all the "sexy" ketchup bottle etc.. costumes.

Ann Althouse said...

On the reading comprehension problem: Yeah, I noticed this too. Why are children mixed in with this topic? Apparently, because her child saw the adult costumes in the store and this impinged on the innocence of childhood. If Halloween is "their" holiday, they are hurt by seeing it sexualized, even if the sexualized presentation is meant for adults. Unfortunately, a lot of adults are into Halloween and they want to have fun too. It's not as though the kids were forced to see Halloween pornography. I think it's a little overstated.

Anonymous said...

The "adultification" of Halloween has been going on for some years.

Also, the trend of the NYT publishing clueless articles about old trends as if they are new events also has been going on for some years.

What really surprises me, is that somebody they publish in the NYT admits to going to Target.

PS: Long Live Slutty Costumes!! (for adults aged 18-49, that is)

(though some of my fondest memories from Junior High and High School are of girls in slutty costumes for Halloween, but in retrospect, what were they thinking letting 13 year old girls go to school in little more than a towel(in imitation of this album cover)?)

Dave said...

"What really surprises me, is that somebody they publish in the NYT admits to going to Target."

Uh, Tarjay is a high-rent version of Wal-Mart. Of courseNYT readers shop there.

Anthony said...

I remember reading articles in the Times a decade ago examining the increasing number of adults "doing" Halloween; most of these tended towards the market influence of adults coming into the costume, party, etc. market as consumers. IIRC, it was the second most profitable holiday besides Christmas. I'm not sure it's some sort of wholly new cultural thing that's driving the sexy-this/that/the other thing costumes, since much the same thing has gone on in New Orleans for years. Seems almost like Mardi Gras got distributed to the farfreluches but on a different day.

And for what's it's worth, IMO guys don't dress up "sexy" because they'll be thought of as gay, not perverts.

Pogo said...

"It's not as though the kids were forced to see Halloween pornography. I think it's a little overstated."

It's no different than having your 8 year old see Maxim and Cosmo onshelf at eye level, or soft-porn on TV. The question is whether there is a reason to keep adult material and subjects away from pre-teens and teens?

Does it matter, at the margins, if teens and pre-teens (e.g. Bratz dolls) get sexualized?
Of what use innocence?

George said...

"I wonder what the men would wear if they -- like the women -- thought overwhelmingly about looking sexually appealing to women?"

It doesn't matter, so long as you tell the lady in question that your name is Mr. Darcy. But it doesn't hurt to be attired in breeches and to have a horse with you.

Carrying a teddy bear also works wonders for meeting women at all those swingin' tiny tot soirees. It gives you that kind of blithely plaintive look that so many women find irresistible.

tiggeril said...

I think also men dressing sexy for women doesn't translate to costumes well. I'd imagine a Cary Grant-style suit wouldn't be very comfortable at a Halloween party.

Although the white tshirt and jeans look would work.

rightwingprof said...

Yes, on The Corner, Jonah Goldberg (or maybe it was MKH) has a link to a woman who objects to the sexualized costumes not because they are sexualized, but because she didn't see any sexualized costumes for boys.

Here, let me find it. Wait ...

Oops, it was Mona Charen. Here's the link.

Revenant said...

Personally, hearing the phrase "this is a family holiday" just makes me want to turn my garden hose on the next group of kids I see. I like women in sexy Halloween outfits. People who don't want their kids to see that sort of thing can take their damned kids someplace else.

Besides -- while we're on the subject of what Halloween "used to be like" -- whatever happened to making your own goddamned costume? If people want to dress up like a witch, they can buy some green face paint and buy some old black clothes from a thift store. They shouldn't go to K-Mart and whine that there are no sufficiently frumpy premade costumes in stock.

Wickedpinto said...

But I wonder what the men would wear if they -- like the women -- thought overwhelmingly about looking sexually appealing to women?

It isn't what we would be wearing, it is what we would be.

And what we would be were that the case, we would be gay.

Gay as the day is long.

Queer as a 3 dollar bill.

Rainbow Warriors, complete with the swordfights and all.

If men were that superficial, we would be gay.

NTTIAWWT

bill said...

There's a fine line with adults and making costumes. This lady crossed that line.

TMink said...

I blame Elvira.

Trey

tcd said...

george, You damn well better have an estate as large as Pemberley and an annual income comparable to 10,000 pounds in today's dollars to back up that claim, mister. Colin Firth good looks don't hurt either :) Mr. Darcy, swoon....

tcd said...

I gave up on finding a Halloween costume that was not skin-tight, up-to-there short or low-cut after 5 hrs browsing online retailers. I've decided I will wear a fancy cocktail dress and have my hair blown out for the Halloween party I am hosting at my house. The party is an adult-only affair where much alcohol will be consumed. All Althouse regulars are invited if you're in the area :)

Pogo said...

Just wear your regular clothes, but use double-sided tape and attach socks, lint, the odd undergarment, and go as Static Cling.

Susan said...

My best halloween costume was one I made myself where I went as a bathroom wall:

A white vinyl sheath marked off in "tiles" by a magic marker and decorated with red lip prints, grafitti such as "Eleanor Roosevelt was just another pretty face" and references to my circle of friends like "Bill Robinson picks his nose".

Dangling earrings made of toothbrushes, furry slippers to represent a bathroom mat and don't think it wasn't fun to have guys trying to turn on my faucet handles all night (two white rubber ball halves glued on and painted "hot" and "cold").

Eli Blake said...

Cheapest and best costume I ever had:

All of the spades from a deck of cards safety pinned to me, and a piece of paper taped on the front of my shirt that said:

SCORE 14-14


Black suit and tie.

Much better than the year I put on a big pink rabbit costume and went as the energizer bunny (it was very tiring carrying that big bass drum all over.)

Steven said...

But I wonder what the men would wear if they -- like the women -- thought overwhelmingly about looking sexually appealing to women?

Er, that's easy. A tux. For Halloween, add a gun-shaped lighter to be able to claim to be going as James Bond.

Revenant said...

But I wonder what the men would wear if they -- like the women -- thought overwhelmingly about looking sexually appealing to women?

<cynicism>

What do you mean? I think about earning more money and buying a nicer car all the time!

</cynicism>

Theo Boehm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
amba said...

What a prison. Who's the real Prisoner of Sex?

Random thoughts: in 7th grade we had an assignment to draw a Hallowe'en party. Among all the people in different costumes I drew a girl in a sexy, form-fitting cat costume -- a precursor of Catwoman. Skinny, witchy, dried-up little old Mrs. Brown erased it. She took an eraser and censored it right out of my picture.

When I was a prepubescent kid and a total, mystical fan of Hallowe'en, my favorite costume was Robin Hood. I had a bunch of old long underwear and a vest dyed green, a rakish hat with a feather ,and an eye mask. I loved the idea that he a) blended into the forest and b) had action adventures. I would never have wanted to be Maid Marian. I thought she was such a bore, sitting around in a long feminine skirt, braiding her long hair and waiting. She couldn't even climb a goddamn tree.

vw: uqqtv (al-Jazeera?)

administrator said...

Just go with something gender-neutral like the Sasquatch

Sasquatch

Charles Giacometti said...

More breastblogging, I see.

TMink said...

Mermaid, or Yeti?

Yeti.

Trey

Slac said...

I just heard on the radio that Halloween is the second most popular holiday and the fastest growing.

It was on the Penn Jilette show and his guest was Dee Snyder. The exchange went something like this:

Penn: "It's because guys can dress in drag."
Dee: "And women can be whores!"

Maybe that answers your question, Ann. :/

Jamie said...

I don't like sexy costumes. Even though I live in California where it can be somewhat warm well into October, I'm very reluctant to try wearing one of those things. I almost always make my own. Last year I was the Seven Deadly Sins, and there was a little sexiness-after all, one of the sins is Lust, and Lust was represented by fishnets and lacy garters. And some bloodiness representing Wrath: a white glove stained with fake blood. Green makeup and a green hair piece was Envy; a tiara with a black skull was Pride; dog toys shaped like food tied around the waist was Gluttony; my bright-pink bathrobe was Sloth and a boa made of fake money was Greed. Now why can't others get creative like this?

Jamie said...

And honestly, what ever happened to unisex or gender-neutral costumes? Some article I saw a few years a go said "Men can still be bananas or a box of popcorn" (sorry, can't remember right now where I saw this). HUH? A girl I used to work with came as a banana one year! And MadisonMan was right--that woman could have bought her daughters the monster or gorilla. If I wanted to buy a beer bottle or hot dog costume, who says I can't just because I'm a woman?