The month of October is full of searching online and in stores to find the best Halloween costume. While this is supposed to be a fun, lighthearted activity, the deeper issue of the sexualization of women is revealed while looking up at a wall of corsets, short dresses and tight spandex shorts. Women’s Halloween costumes are often very revealing, while men’s costumes are similar to those a child could wear.
To find a non-sexualized halloween costume for women, the word “modest” often needs to go first in the search bar. When searching for a photo of women’s animal costumes, the results show women in very short or tight dresses. When searching for men’s animal costumes, most of the photo results show costumes similar to what a school mascot would wear. The same goes for all categories of costumes; whether it be witches or a cowgirl, women’s costumes are almost always much more revealing than men’s.
“In sociology, there is a term called ‘Moral Holiday,’” sociology teacher Mr. Chris Dziadus explained. “It means that there are times when norms can be broken with no negative sanctions or stigma.” Halloween seems to be a time of the year in which women are expected to wear revealing clothes. Whereas the rest of the year, wearing revealing clothes is often looked down upon by society.
“It’s really disheartening to see that’s what women are expected to want to wear,” junior Niamh Corrigan said. “From my perspective, I have been desensitized to see sexualized costumes. It seems so normal when it should not be. Girls should be able to dress up as what or who they want without feeling like they have to reinforce the ‘sexy’ stereotype.”
Sexualized Halloween costumes date back to the 1940s, according to the Huffington Post. During this time, actors and actresses had to go on publicity tours for movies that their studios produced. When some studios such as Colombia Pictures and Paramount Studios had publicity tours on a date close to Halloween, those in charge of styling put the actresses in revealing costumes. While these costumes were not extremely revealing by today’s standards, they were a little scandalous for the time period. This was one of the first events that started the ‘sexy’ Halloween costume trend.
Out of the 190 girls who responded to the Network survey, 93 percent said they think sexualized Halloween costumes are harmful to young girls and teenage girls who grow up seeing them as the norm.
“This is harmful to young girls because they see this as the norm growing up,” Dziadus said. “They don’t just feel like they can be a princess, but they sometimes feel like they have to be an overly-sexualized princess.”
However, not everyone thinks it’s harmful to grow up seeing sexualized Halloween costumes. “In our generation it’s not portrayed as being sexualized, it’s the thought of having body confidence and having the ability to show pride in yourself,” junior Madeline DaSilva said.
“I think every woman has the right to dress as they want to,” senior Macey Carrico adds.
The sexualization of women’s Halloween costumes may lead to frustration and anger. “I feel upset and anxious due to how women are displayed at Halloween because it often further objectifies and belittles the interests and careers of women,” senior Gracie Kerr said. “Although some women [enjoy wearing revealing costumes], the fact that no alternative options exist is inhibiting many women, and I think that protesting and publicizing this marketing behavior may begin to make a difference.”