Illustration by Catlin R Scroggie.

I hate Halloween. Yes, I’m one of those terrible people that would rather be alone with my books and my music and my vices than standing and drinking in the cold with people I hardly like for a holiday I don’t care to acknowledge. Unfortunately, every year I still manage to find myself dressed in a cheap, thin outfit that cost me $70, standing in a long queue, wedged between a dominatrix and a Jolly Green Giant. I don’t hate Halloween because I hate freedom or candy, I hate Halloween because of its strange effect on young women.

Sexy witch. Sexy nurse. Sexy genie. Sexy grim reaper. Sexy ketchup bottle. Sexy Shrek. Sexy graduate. These are the costumes choices for women every year. The only thing more curious than the lackluster selection, and our society’s pigeonholing of the fairer sex, is how women openly embrace it. The sexiest costumes are always the first to be sold out. Every year while planning costumes with my girl friends, half of them have already resigned themselves to wearing the smallest, tightest most exposed outfit they can pull off without being completely nude. As a big girl, sexy costumes are not usually the first thing I go for, but what else are my options as a woman? Wearing an oversized orange shirt and calling myself a pumpkin?

[singlepic id=683 w=320 h=240 float=left]My problem with costumes is not that they are sexy, it’s that they’re sexy in the wrong way. In a purely exploitative way. There’s a difference between a woman showing off the fact that she is one and exposing her “Britney” for candy and free drinks. I’m not exactly bothered by the fact that women dress sexy for Halloween, I’m bothered that they are expected to do so.

A colleague recently showed me a hilarious/scary blog that compares the male version of costumes to their female counterparts. They update it pretty regularly, and there’s a lot to see. Seeing both costumes side-by-side really puts into context the way the world sees women and how they expect us to be. The men’s costumes don’t squeeze their genitals. They aren’t cropped so that we can see their stomachs. Coincidentally most female costumes are.

I’d like to say that I don’t think it’s okay for me or anyone else to tell women how they should be dressing. Woman can, and typically do, do whatever they want anyway. I do want women, as a whole, to realize that they don’t have to fit into the sexy nurse mold. They have a right to wear a costume that covers them, and still makes them feel sexy.