I am not a prude when it comes to clothing. I have been known to highlight my, ahem, assets, throughout my life. I have boobs that can cause major distraction in a push-up bra, so I deploy them wisely, but strategically, depending on the attention I want. So I get the allure of wearing sexy clothes. It’s fun to watch the reactions.
I am not even against sexy Halloween costumes. I get that too. I have never personally been a big fan, because I went from a long hiatus of no dressing up after I stopped doing it as a kid, to dressing up with my own kids. As a mom, I focused on goofy or mildly scary costumes in which to accompany my kids. One year I was a Viking chick. Another I threw together a witch costume, complete with bright red pageboy wig. There was not a whole lot of calling for a sexy nurse when trailing behind a first grader and a kindergartener.
In the time between when I stopped dressing up for myself in my early teens and started dressing to take my kids out trick-or-treating, something happened to female costumes. They all turned into porn outfits. Now you’d be hard-pressed to find a policewoman’s outfit that doesn’t include a scandalously short miniskirt and a skimpy shirt seductively tied in front, along with gogo boots and rhinestone handcuffs (okay, I’ll admit the rhinestone handcuffs actually intrigued me when I saw them at Party City). The trouble is not that the sexy Halloween outfits exist, but that they are the predominant offering for women.
Today I went to a place of business where the entire staff had coordinated to be superheroes. Adorable. The men wore what basically looked like giant onesies: there was one Spiderman and an Ironman wearing an apron over the costume to keep it clean. The women, though, had all run into the limitations of the theme: one wore a skin-tight black catsuit that left nothing to the imagination and sky high heels which must have been murder to stand in all day. Another, as Poison Ivy, wore a costume much too skimpy for the October chill.
I have heard women argue that the trend in revealing costumes is actually empowering to women because it gives them a day to flaunt their sexuality. I believe in the power of female sexiness, so I don’t think we should all go around in burkas. (Unless, you know, we want to). My issue is that many women, especially young ones, are not choosing revealing costumes because they’re seeking them out, but because they’ve become the norm. You have to work hard to find a commercially-produced costume for women that doesn’t look a little bit porn-y. (As an aside, I have noticed this trend in female footwear as well. When I mentioned to my daughter that most of the high heels for sale now look like shoes that would have only been worn my strippers and hookers when I was a teenager, she rolled her eyes at my incorrigible oldness. But it’s true).
Call it a feminist conspiracy theory, but I’ve noticed that as women have gained more power in the workplace and society (more, but not enough), the societal norms for female beauty have become more stringent and the expected attire has become more sexualized. It’s a little like the 50s trend for pushing the homemaker image. Since that didn’t work, now what’s pushed is blow-up doll chic. Nowhere is that more evident than on Halloween.
This is when I knew we were going to hell in a handbasket. Sexy Donald Trump. Ahem, excuse me, Donna Rumpshaker (that is the actual name of the costume). Because nothing says female empowerment like shaking your rump in booty shorts pretending to be one of the biggest misogynists of our time: