What was once thought of as a kid’s holiday with spooky decorations and creative costumes, Halloween has begun to be much more known for its lack of originality and sexualization of women. It comes as no surprise that America has capitalized on the concept. Nearly every commercial store window advertising Halloween costumes involve a fetish-ized image of a woman as a sexy nurse or naughty devil with bare mid-rifs, pushed-up breasts and stripper-like shoes to match.
While I refuse taking any blame from society at large and companies who take advantage of the growing capital in what they know is an easy sell, I can’t help but want to question my fellow women for supporting the business. Is the pressure to be sexy on Halloween that severe? Have we really bought into the idea that our sexuality is somehow a form of empowerment? Yet, as more and more of such costumes are made and as they quickly take over the tradition of Halloween, how will young girls withstand the pressure? Grade school is hardly the time to resist societal pressures or gender stereotypes.
It’s an easy argument to make that this transformation of Halloween costumes from creative to sexy will and already have negatively influenced young girl’s images of themselves and their bodies. The direct message that these costumes are telling them is that sexy is trendy and fun. But the effects of those message are far more troubling, enforcing the binary of gender and what it means to be a woman.
A recent article on Jezebel.com under the headline, Pepperdine Student Paper Publishes Insane Dangers of Dressing Like a Slut on Halloween, echos an all too familiar mentality of victim blame. In short, a Christian college warned female students of the dangers and risks of dressing too sexy on Halloween, giving advice such as “make sure to keep strong men around you who you know and trust to ward off unwanted admirers”. To say the least, the student paper comments and advice was anything less than offensive.
Halloween articles on the sexualization of women are actually not all that uncommon as I shuffle through various online articles. The concern of not only feminists but parents, highlight the need to bring the phenomena of sexy costumes into focus and understand the lasting effects it is having on young girls. Halloween should be an escape from female, body objectification and yet it has only enforced it by making it into a contemporary tradition.