Halloween 2012: Options Other Than the “Sexy___” Costume

by | October 6, 2012
filed under Feminism, Pop Culture

by Jarrah Hodge

It’s almost that time of year again – Halloween. If you’ve been following Gender Focus for a while you know that every year I get frustrated with the costume selection that’s out there in the Halloween stores. It seems like there are hardly any costumes in the women’s section that aren’t the “Sexy ______ (insert noun)”.  And this year I saw a lot of stupid sex-joke-oriented costumes for guys (like this “Snake Charmer” costume that manages to also be a bit racist).

After seeing The Invisible War, a documentary looking at the issue of sexual assault in the US Military, the costume that creeped me out the most this year was the “Sexy Army Cadet” (left). The description on the Spirit Halloween site reads:

Reporting for duty, sir! It’s time to perform maneuvers, and in this army, wearing this military cadet uniform may result in some X-rated maneuvers! Gentlemen, is that a proper salute?

Ugh. People seriously pay $50 for this costume. I also noticed the “Sexy Eskimo” thing I talked about last year seems to have become a trend.

Ok and why are the women modelling these costumes on the packaging almost always white? All that does is reinforce the image of “sexy”/beautiful as synonymous with whiteness, which is neither true nor cool.

Now if one of the “Sexy ____” costumes really speaks to you, go for it. My issue isn’t the fact that there are “sexy” costume options but that they seem to be the only options. For those of us who want other options, check out my ideas below and links to other great lists of Halloween costume ideas for feminists:

My ideas for this year:

  1. Rosie the Riveter – Gender Focus contributor Jessica Critcher suggested this one. You can probably throw this together for around $10 using a red and white bandana, a mechanic’s jumpsuit or denim shirt and jeans, plus doc martins or other similar heavy shoes.
  2. Mad Scientist – When you Google pictures for “mad scientist costume” you almost always come up with costumes for guys but there’s no reason a woman can’t be a mad scientist, so that’s what I’m going as this year. I was going to take it a step further and be zombie Marie Curie but I figured it would require too much explaining. That said, I am going with a Curie-esque grey wig with a bun, as well as a lab coat, rubber gloves, safety goggles, and makeup to make me look tired and slightly crazed. You could try burn/boil makeup and ripping your lab coat if you wanted to look more inept than evil.
  3. Tippi Hedren’s character from The Birds – As Neatorama points out, this costume is super easy to put together, especially if you already have blonde hair and don’t need a wig. All you need is a green dress and jacket plus fake birds from the craft store and fake blood.
  4. Beatnik – Black beret, black turtleneck, black pants or skirt, black shoes, sunglasses, goatee (optional), bongo drums (optional). So easy – what’s not to like?Yip Yip costume via Instructables
  5. Yip Yip from Sesame Street – I am so doing this next year provided I can find someone to be the “Nope Nope” (get the instructions at Instructables). Also if you like the idea of being a Muppet or Sesame Street character, this lady made an awesome Super Grover costume.
  6.  Hester Prynne – You’d probably want a very plain brown or grey dress with long sleeves and preferably a white collar but you can also add that yourself (with an iron-on adhesive or hot glue if you don’t care about the dress and aren’t the best at sewing). Add white apron and Puritan bonnet – you can buy one on Amazon, oddly enough, or sew your own using patterns or tutorials available online. Again, if you want to go the easier route, just pull your hair back as tightly as possible into a severe bun. Glue red “A” on your dress and you’re golden!
  7.  Maru – stole this from my friend Becca – instead of being a “Sexy Cat” try going as internet sensation Maru. If you’re super ambitious try getting a white bodysuit or shirt and leggings and sponge-paint them Maru colours, then pair with cat ears and a cardboard box that can sit around your waist.
  8. MedusaInstructables has steps to make an easy snake hat out of a baseball cap and dollar store plastic snakes. Use this or glue the same kind of light plastic snakes to a wig, add a relatively plain black or green dress and some evil makeup (if it were me I’d use a white or very light foundation and grey powder to make my face look drawn and sallow, plus maybe red contacts if I didn’t need glasses and was feeling super adventurous).
  9. Any of the characters from Comediva’s BAMF Girls Club – That’d be Katniss, Michonne, Lisbeth, Buffy, Hermione…and even Bella, if you must.
  10. One of the Golden Girls (or all four if you can get a group together) – You don’t have to be a baby to pull off a Sofia costume.

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