SURVEY: Sexy Halloween Costumes – Yay or Nay?

by Maddie Shepherd

What are your thoughts?

I’ve found myself in a situation that I haven’t been in since childhood: the search for a kick-ass Halloween costume. Visions of the most clever, engaging, pop culture-referencing get-up dance through my head as I type “women’s Halloween costumes” into my search engine. What I see does not exactly match my expectations. Pictures of revealing versions of cliché Halloween characters fill my Safari window. For instance, the women’s version of a cat costume not only features the pointy black ears and furry tail, but also a full pleather jumpsuit and nine inch platform boots. I scrolled through the first page and not a single non-sexy costume popped up. I couldn’t summon the energy to proceed to the next page, but I assume that the sexiness continued for many more pages*. I can’t decide what to make of this. From one perspective, I find female sexuality empowering, and I just bought a pair of leather shorts from Topshop that would rival many of the costumes the Internet has to offer. However, Halloween remains the one night every year to become anything you want. It baffles me that women are expected to dress in these lame, “sexy” versions of things. By participating in this “sexy costume” phenomenon, aren’t we indulging the implication that women, provided the opportunity to dress up as anything, ought to prioritize sexiness? Given the limited non-revealing options my Google search offered, I have decided to fashion my own costume rather than order one. But this search has made me extremely curious, especially as a first-year. How do Barnard students plan to dress up for Halloween?

*Post-latte I was able to continue investigating and happened upon a floor-length princess gown about 75 costumes in.

I don’t think I’ll be able to navigate the streets of New York City in a floor-length princess gown. 
Maddie Shepherd is a first-year at Barnard and a staff writer for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

GIF courtesy of Tumblr.


2 thoughts on “SURVEY: Sexy Halloween Costumes – Yay or Nay?

  1. Tried to fill out the survey accurately but it's difficult with the either/or style. “Sexy” costumes aren't my thing (pop-culture and literary references are more my speed). That doesn't mean that I think women who choose to embrace their sexuality aren't empowered by doing so. How do you even define sexy? When I act out my sexuality (and it does make me feel powerful and in control of my body) it looks a lot different from what many people might imagine.

    I've never felt expected to dress “sexy” for halloween, but that's maybe because I've never bought a pre-made costume. It's possible that people who support the misogynistic costume industry ARE playing into stereotypes, but I'd never look down on another woman for dressing the way she chooses, or displaying her body in a manner in which she feels comfortable.

    tl;dr wear the costume you want to wear, and give everyone else the chance to do the same.

  2. preaach. i think this is definitely the ideal.

    unfortunately, i don't think i can safely say i don't think about how other people will think of me/judge my outfits on even a day-to-day basis.

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