"Girls are conditioned to believe that their power comes from being sexy and that Halloween is the perfect time to manifest that. It’s totally a sexist double standard, of course, but it’s powerful, and it means that wanting to indulge in it is both super common and super confusing. Your costume is your choice, my lovely readers, and it’s up to you to decide how much you want to show, but how are we as young women supposed to meaningfully decide our limits when every costume maker on the planet is trying to get us to show our butts? How do we negotiate all of these different factors into our decision making without seeming like we’ve bought into some stupid notion about sex and power that people have been trying to sell us since we were little? It seems like no matter what happens, they win, we lose, and they want to keep it that way.
Wanting to wear a sexy costume doesn’t make you an idiot or a slut, just like not wearing a sexy costume doesn’t make you a Super Feminist immune to all media. We need to get beyond critiquing individuals for their costume choices, and spend more time and energy calling out the industries that make it so difficult for us to negotiate our own desires."
The costume choices were, of course, sexualized. I was at a point where people and the entire world made me feel ugly and I didn’t feel sexy, not once, not ever. But not dressing like that was a constant weighing of the scales. I could cave, attempt to look sexy, and feel bad about it, or I could resist, wear something else, and feel bad about it. I just felt bad. I hated Halloween, and I felt like an idiot. Every time.
A lot has changed since then. I’m too old for Halloween now but I’m also a million times happier than I was then. The pressure to wear “sexy” costumes faded out. The idea that my body wasn’t disgusting stuck around. I slowly but surely learned how to love myself, even if I was a total dork who wore a nude undershirt. For a long time, Halloween was this moment frozen in time every single year where I participated in some sort of freak show parade where half of us were gonna be cool kids with relevant, sexy costumes and I was going to look like I went thrifting in the dark. But suddenly, Halloween is less scary. I’ve seriously figured out who I am and now changing into someone else doesn’t sound so impossible. Women are so beautiful – I am so beautiful – and if it hadn’t become a battle of wits I’d probably be retired from the Look Like Something Else game entirely, but I can stick around for now and shake down the last demons. This year I think I might be Young Bob Dylan, or Romi Klinger, or my friend Patrick. Last year I was Wonder Woman, and the year before that I was Richard Simmons.
Take it from SPARKteam member Melissa—a store-bought costume won’t win you the good prizes! And we’ve got some amazing prizes in our costume contest with Hollaback Philly and Beauty Redefined. Need ideas? Check out Hollaback’s DIY suggestion post. And don’t worry, a good homemade costume is easier than you think: I have it on excellent authority that Melissa is awful at crafts and most DIY-related things, and she still kills it year after year.
Every other feminist blog on the Internet is going to be talking about sexualized Halloween costumes in the next two weeks so we’re trying our best not to replicate that conversation here, but good lord would you look at this costume????
We’ve teamed up with HollabackPhilly and Redefining Beauty to host a costume contest that’s about more than who can be the sexiest inanimate object this Halloween. Enter for a chance to win amazing prizes, like an iPod and a ton of awesome Hollaback, RB, and SPARK swag!