Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Costumes. Yeah, I'm Going There

In case you have forgotten in light of current events that are of actual national importance, today is Halloween. And as every self-respecting Mean Girls fan knows, 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...right?


Let's be honest here. It's taking my every last ounce of willpower to have the general human decency not to make Hurricane Sandy jokes. Obviously, then, no "rules of girl world" - even if they are laid down by my favorite piece of modern cinema - are going to keep me from making fun of people for their slutty Halloween costumes. And with the ensembles I've seen floating around the interwebs lately, these jokes are pretty much writing themselves.

Merriam-Webster defines "costume" as an outfit worn to create the appearance characteristic of a particular period, person, place, or thing. That's it. An outfit that creates the appearance of something that is not you. Nowhere in the dictionary's definitions of "costume" do you find the phrase "an outfit worn to place women in as little or as suggestively-fashioned clothing as possible while remaining vaguely reminiscent of some sort of day laborer or mythical creature." Somewhere, this concept of costume was embedded into the minds of the costume manufacturers and the young women of America, and I'm here to say, it must stop. 

Recently, in my typical perusing of Facebook, I came across a pair of ladies dressed in bandeau bra tops, tutus the length of modest underwear, leg warmers, and fuzzy hats who were calling themselves "rainbow dinosaurs." I hate to break it to you, but you are not rainbow dinosaurs. You are naked. Similarly, wearing a Spandex dress with a sheriff's badge on it that is cut down to your navel and has a hemline that ends just as your femur begins does not make you a sheriff. It makes you a silly girl who remembered her badge but forgot her pants. How many times have you seen an actual cop do that? I'm betting pretty few times. 

You know who else you typically don't see dressing ultra-suggestively just because it's Halloween? Men. I would hardly consider myself a feminist (read: I took a gender studies class last spring solely because Sex and the City 2 was on the syllabus), but something seems a little fishy about this dichotomy. Granted, you will occasionally see guys whose Halloween costumes leave them shirtless, but that's generally because they're either gay, Halloweening with a heavy dose of irony, or entirely insufferable human beings. Female readers, if you, too, dress inappropriately for Halloween because you are insufferable human beings, by all means, keep on keepin' on. I do not care about you. Similarly, if you are some kind of hipster who's donning a scandalous costume this year ironically because that's what mainstream people do, you, too, have my full permission to continue doing whatever weird thing it is you do all day. 

In the millions of other cases seen in America every October, though, the slutty Halloween costumes have got to go. The peculiar thing about this phenomenon is the way in which it stretches to almost every corner of youngwomanhood. The girls who wear scandalous costumes are not simply the girls whose extra-curricular activities are similarly scandalous - they're also the girls who normally wear jeans and weather-appropriate, comfortable tops to go out on the weekends. Slutty costumes are seen as a Halloween standard to which all girls, slutty or otherwise, must aspire. This, my friends, makes no sense. For most of the continental United States, Halloween is perfectly timed for perennially awful weather. If you would normally dress warmly in the end of October - or, to cater specifically to 2012, if you would normally dress warmly in the pretty much nationwide dregs of a thousand-mile-wide Category 1 hurricane - there is no reason not to do the same on Halloween! If you want to be a hippie, wear bellbottoms and a sweater with a fringe vest. If you want to be a nurse, wear scrubs. It's really not difficult. 

If you're willing to sacrifice a bit of warmth for the sake of above-average effort for this particularly important/hyped night out, you can still do so without being downright inappropriate. Find yourself some ears and a polka-dotted red dress that you would wear and get a million compliments for in real life, and voila - you, scandal-free, cute person, are a perfectly lovely Minnie Mouse! As someone who hardly ever cares enough to go out on the weekends, I certainly understand the concept of putting a bit more pizzazz into your Halloween costume than you would for a normal Friday night. But as you're pulling your costume together, remember - cuter than usual does not have to mean dressing like a street walker. 

Unless your costume is actually intended to be "street walker." There's a lot of potential for both clever social commentary and endless LOLz going on with that idea. If you were planning on dressing as an actual prostitute for Halloween this year, consider your costume Domerberry-approved. 

But seriously, people. As this year's Halloween festivities start/end/let's-just-go-with-"happen"-because-I-have-no-idea-when-Halloweekend-was-or-is-supposed-to-be, let's all try to keep our Halloween costumes slutwear-free. If nothing I've said yet has convinced you, I'll address one final point. Most costume companies call scandalous women's costumes "sassy." The only thing sassy about a polyester/Lycra-blend minidress is the shamelessness with which it pretends to be anything but cheap. If you want a sassy costume, dress up as Mitt Romney's binders full of women. Or, if you want to get really sassy this Halloween? Just dress up as me. 

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