Viewpoint

Let’s get the sex out of Halloween

A “sexy cop” Halloween costume for little girls.
A “sexy cop” Halloween costume for little girls. COURTESY OF PARTY CITY

So dressing up for Halloween has come to this: sexualizing little girls.

Same old, same old. We talk about this every year, don’t we?

Aggressive marketing of “sexy” Halloween costumes for women and girlsmay be obnoxious but they’re not new.

I know that the origins of this pagan homage to the dead are long gone. But do we have to abandon our more modern version, too? Can’t we still have children parade around the neighborhood for candy looking like some version of Big Bird, rather than, well, a slut?

This trend toward sexy Halloween costumes began at least 10 to 15 years ago, when the entertainment and fashion media solidified the idea that it is impossible to look “good”if you don’t also look “hot,” said Amanda Hallay, a professor of fashion and cultural history at New York City’s LIM College.

“It interested me that when Caitlyn Jenner made her first appearance as a woman on the cover of Vanity Fair, she was wearing a thigh-revealing, strapless satin basque,” Hallay said. “Such is the power of this current mindset, with everyone from news anchors to elementary school teachers believing that to look ‘good,’ they must also look ‘hot.’”

She said recent years’ Halloween costumes reflect the idea that all that counts is that women look sexy.

“This is one of the reasons, along with popular shows like ‘The Walking Dead,' that dressing as a zombie is a popular Halloween costume,” Hallay said. “Zombies traditionally don clothing that is rotting off or ripped away, perfect for showing off shapely thighs or heaving bosoms.”

The gods cheated me out of both but even if they hadn’t I think some things just ought to be private. And if I still had little girls, I’d spend my last breath covering them.

Just because they make them doesn’t mean we have to buy them. There’s something to be said about poking a bed sheet with holes and turning your little monster into Casper.

The costume market realized long ago that sex sells at Halloween, Hallay said. Now, it’s practically impossible to buy a ready-made costume that isn’t a “sexy” version of itself.

“Long gone are the days when women would enjoy making themselves look as horrible and fiendish as possible on this scariest night of the year,” Hallay said. “Now, Halloween is just another excuse to wear too little, but because it’s a costume, it’s sanctioned. This is fine if you’re an adult, but what’s disturbing are the number of pre-teens and teens who are allowed to sport such sultry looks.”

Men may be the only ones having fun with their Halloween costumes. Because the pressure is not on them to look sexy, they can enjoy the one night when we’re supposed to look terrible.

Maybe Halloween is still scary after all.

Gracie Bonds Staples writes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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