BOO(b) Week: Sexism in Halloween Costumes

This article is part of our BOO(b) Week Series: in honor of Halloween and Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we are publishing an article each day about boos, boobs, or both.

As the famous Mean Girls quote goes, “Halloween is the one day a year when a girl can dress up like a total slut and no other girls can say anything else about it." In most popular media, depictions of girls on Halloween all have that same word: slutty. From Mean Girls to the Slutty Pumpkin on How I Met Your Mother to the Halloween episodes on shows like The Office and Friends, the male characters wear ridiculous or over the top getups, while the women wear short skirts and crop tops. This is mirrored in costume stores across the country: when looking up a traditionally female costume on google, the top results all included the word “slutty” or “sexy,” while none of the men’s did- their choices were much more likely to be realistic, comfortable, and weather appropriate.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a woman wanting a costume that makes her feel sexy. In fact, the Mean Girls quote mentioned above makes it sound like almost a liberation, that when October 31st rolls around slut-shaming disappears. So the purpose of this article isn’t to call out all the cute animals in short skirts or Disney princesses in tutus that are excited to show off their costume. The problem I see is not in the existence of “slutty” costumes, but in both, the judgement implied by the word and the fact that there really isn’t another socially acceptable choice. For one, no one should “say anything else” about a girl’s outfit any day of the year, even if it’s not Halloween. While I personally can find it fun to dress in something short that makes me feel confident, I’ve heard many of my friends complain about needing to go on a diet to look good for Halloween, or suffer through late October weather in a skimpy Wonder Woman bodysuit.

Yes, they could choose to wear a little more fabric, but not only does that require scrolling through hundreds of Sexy Devil options on Amazon or putting lots more effort into a DIY costume, but it seems taboo to admit that you’re not comfortable wearing what can be essentially a bikini out in public. It’s ingrained in us, through movies and TV, that the girls in the smallest outfits get the most male attention, or even jealousy from other girls, and the skimpy outfits encourage this competition. True, this is a problem every day. But marketing Halloween as the “slutty” holiday just makes it worse!

So this Halloween, please remember that there’s nothing inherently “slutty” about wearing a costume you feel confident in, and let your judgement free attitude carry over to the rest of the year. And if you’d prefer to be nice and warm in some nice baggy pants, go for it! Halloween costumes are all about what you want. As hard as it can be, just dress for you, not this idea of what a girl should feel comfortable in on Halloween. While sexism can be really scary, let’s stick to horror movies this year.


Image Credit: Feature, 1, 2