My mother and I recently visited one of those Halloween stores that pop up in closed out retail spaces every October, “Spirit Halloween.” I think most people enjoy Halloween. As a classroom teacher, it has become a day I look forward to mostly. I say mostly because my only worry is that one kid who has a hate-on for me finding out where I live and egging my car. But I enjoy seeing all the kids come to school in their costumes and coming up with my own costume. The students always seem to really enjoy seeing their teachers dressed up and I try hard not to disappoint. But finding a costume is not always easy.
Every year it’s the same thing. Teachers are busy, (I think I have mentioned this in previous posts), and making a costume is time consuming. So a visit to the Halloween store is an easy fix. Or is it? Every year I am reminded of the episode of Sex and the City where Carrie and Miranda go shopping for Halloween Costumes and Miranda points out that the only kinds of costumes for women are “Sexy Kitty” or “Slutty Nurse” or something to that effect. The final episode of Sex in the City aired in 2004 and 13 years later not much has changed.
Browsing in the store, there were some great costume ideas. Little Red Riding Hood?
Very appropriate for a teacher, indeed.
Maybe I could be sporty. How about going as a referee?
Oh yes. This will work. Definitely. Especially if I tie up the shirt like it shows in the inset. “Adult Costume” is right. It should be rated Triple X.
Certainly, though, I could dress up like a mummy. I know, I could easily just wrap a roll of toilet paper around myself just as easily, and for a lot less money. But, why not spend $40 dollars on this:
I don’t think things have gotten any better in terms of the objectification of women in Halloween costumes since that Sex in the City episode. If anything, it has gotten worse.
I took another photo to show the wide selection of women’s costumes:
And yes, female high school students come to school in these costumes! These costumes shouldn’t be sold in a Halloween store; they should be sold in a sex store. We buy into the idea that it is our choice to dress in the sexy costume, but it is really the only option available at the stores. How can it be a choice when only one option is given? The most irksome part of it for me is the justification given for allowing our young girls to dress in these kinds of provocative clothing: that if we do not allow them to, we are taking away their power. When girls and women wear these kinds of outfits, they are objectifying themselves, taking away their own power and that of other women. As long as women and girls are using their sex appeal as a means to attain power, women will never have true equality in the world. As long as men view us as sex objects, we will never see a woman president of the United States. We are objectifying ourselves by buying into the idea that a costume like this gives a woman any kind of legitimate power.
To further highlight the value placed on the sexy costumes, I will show you the one dress-up item I was able to find for women that wouldn’t be considered as traditionally sexy:
There were other wigs too- sexy, long hair in every colour. The sexy wigs all cost $29.99 but note the price of $14.99 on poor old granny. Granny isn’t sexy apparently and so has a lesser value. She’s not in as much demand. Which brings me to my final observation on my Halloween store rant: did anyone notice that in all the images of the costumes on the packages that all of the women are white? Apparently, women of color don’t celebrate Halloween. Oh, wait. They do. I don’t have a picture but there is a granny wig for Black women, with a photo of an older Black woman shaking her finger; you know that stereotypical older, loud and opinionated Black woman. I didn’t take a photo of it, so please just trust me that it’s there. So in the Halloween costume shop, there are lots of sexy costumes marketed to White women because either women of color don’t exist, or they’re just not sexy (according to the marketing powers that be.)
So to sum up, female teachers can’t buy Halloween costumes at Halloween costume stores. And neither should you. Fight the (male) power!