I was walking into a Halloween costume store with my mom the other day. As we were going through the aisles trying to find our perfect disguises I promptly noticed that most of the costumes in the female aisle were stamped with the word “sexy”. There were sexy nurses and doctors, sexy Disney princesses and their villainous counterparts, and finally, nothing seemed to scream sexier than a “sexy” cop giving you a speeding ticket. When comparing these costumes to the ones offered in the male aisle, you could clearly see a difference in gender roles and what society views women to be. However, what if these revealing costumes are not interpreted as degrading women, but rather empowering them.
There is a huge stigma when a woman wears a Halloween costume that exposes her body, despite this option being predominately available in the store. These women are then slut-shamed for picking that outfit out followed by being labeled as provocative or asking for some guy to come and harass her. I strongly believe that those are two things that women definitely want to avoid, as the slightest eye contact with a male sometimes seems to be a key opening a door of misery that a woman never even wanted. Thus, allowing me to deduce that just because a girl wears something that reveals her body does not create a permission slip for a guy to come “feel her up”.
I believe that these costumes do not degrade women, but rather empowers them. Size: it’s one word that many young girls and older women fear. To fit into a specific jean or shirt size puts a lot of pressure on women because she does not just need to fit into those jeans; she needs to fit into the standard size of society. Therefore, there is a great amount of confidence needed to wear a sexy Halloween costume. Those girls are basically showing their bodies proudly, feeling confident in their skins… And let us be honest, most of those outfits are not more revealing than a bathing suit. So why force these ladies into wearing sexy Halloween costumes (as those seem to be the most predominant ones available), and then proceed to shame them for it afterward. Their confidence should be noticed because if a girl feels confident one night of the year in a costume that reveals her stomach or legs, that confidence might transfer into her everyday life. If the prejudice of fitting into one size dissipated there would be less eating disorders, thousands of girls would potentially feel more secure in their own skin instead of trying to steal someone else’s. Confidence can be contagious and you do not have to be a size small to feel it. Any size can feel confident in their own way if that is wearing a sexy costume or a modest one. If the stigma against costume shaming disappears, chances are more self-assurance will prevail. So let these costumes be an empowering symbol of self-security rather than a gateway into shaming women into the darkness this Halloween.
Emily Ann Harnett
Originally Published in Vol. 47 Issue 4 on October 25th, 2017