Costume inequalities

Salas in Solace

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The month of October is marked by frantic polling, store hopping and Googling. Every year, it’s the same crisis over and over again that plagues me. What should I be for Halloween?

Now, I understand that a lot of people don’t take Halloween all that seriously and that a coat and hat can easily make Sherlock Holmes. However, I have always been a big fan of having an excuse to dress up. I like to take advantage of this yearly social immunity to dress as ridiculously as I please. And for some reason, no matter how much I would like to satiate my inner nerd — or fan or what have you — costume stores and online sellers don’t seem to feel the same way I do. In fact, given their costume selections, they seem to think they know exactly what I want, and what I want is the same so-called “sexy” dress iterated over all of the best fictional characters and Halloween tropes.

While they may use odd euphemisms like “sassy,” “diva” or “racy,” the costumes all just replicate the same busty, short-skirted dresses. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a busty, short-skirted dress for Halloween, but when almost all women’s costumes available adhere to that template, girls who don’t want that style are out of luck. And there’s no banking on the chance that Disney can save the day. Even when it comes to the safer-sounding Snow White, all possible options fit the cookie cutter. Whether it be seductive Snow White, princess Snow White, sassy Snow White or elegant lace Snow White, the once prim and proper Snow White goes from a costume idea that harkens back to childhood days to just another short dress, only this time in blue, yellow and red. Looking through 120 costumes, more than 80 percent were the same dress, redesigned barely enough to count as different costumes.

Despite being aware of this unfortunate trend, I started out optimistic at the beginning of the 2012 Halloween season. I was going to be one of the six Avengers and be part of a group costume, but online costume sellers quickly crushed that idea.

When it comes down to the generic “sassy” girl-Thor equivalent or the likely ill-fitting men’s Thor, I wouldn’t want to choose either.

And it was on my search for Thor that I found out just how badly women have it when it comes to options. Men have variety in their costumes, and the characters they represent are actually portrayed accurately. For women, the choice tends to be between the polar opposites of the sexualized dress template and Martha Washington.

And at that point, women are pigeonholed into the sexualized dress.

Given my extensive searching for costumes and immediate failure in finding something I wanted, I narrowed my Halloween costume down to three choices. One is get a man’s costume anyway, which will likely be too big and fit me awkwardly, but at least there are quality options for men. Two is to make my own costume, which probably won’t look all that great, but, again, it gives me options. Or three is to just not dress up, simply a disappointing option and really the least likely of all.

While I am going with the second choice, I would like to not have to. I would like for there to be legitimate costumes for women, not just the same dress, following the same generic ideas. It’s not a matter of “slut-shaming.” It’s a matter of having the opportunity to be whatever I please, whether that be the sexy Queen of England or the Norse god of thunder.

Image Source: hanna_horwarth via Creative Commons

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