Freshman Findings: Hot costumes spark controversy

Halloween is very important to children. They beg their parents to let them dress up and drag them out into the night for trick-or-treating. Halloween is a holiday of childhood innocence, coated in sugar and dripping with fun. However, as kids mature, the festivities of this holiday do as well. One example of this is seen through the progression of female costumes, from adorable to risqué to downright scandalous. This sexualization of a holiday meant to be sweet and fun is clear, and should not be encouraged any longer.
For Halloween, I’ve dressed up every year that I can remember. One of my favorite costumes was one I crafted from my own wardrobe. I was a gypsy, clad in my bright scarves and heavy makeup. For my senior year of high school, I was allowed to wear my costume to school; therefore I decided to hop in the car and drive over to Party City to find something a bit flashier. To my distaste, however, I realized that most of the costumes that would’ve been fun for me to wear were either so short or too low cut. The other costumes were plain or ugly. I wondered for a moment if I was buying a costume for school or for some type of adult party. I hadn’t even turned 18 yet and was being pushed toward overly sexy outfits.
It’s easy to see that as girls turn into women, their Halloween options become more provocative. It’s as though we’re expected to flaunt our goods more than flaunt a creative costume. This is disgusting and biased. I don’t want to walk out of my dorm on Halloween and see young women my age with more visible skin than fabric. Halloween is not an excuse to lose our class, and anyone who uses this excuse has to sit back and really think about that decision. When strolling through Halloween stores, legs and chests are on display for the female models, but there is little skin shown by the male models. Male costumes are actually quite humorous — of exaggerated cowboys or campy looking females. Halloween has morphed into yet another justification for degrading and oversexualizing women. This crosses beyond unfair and steps right into sexism.
So, what happens to a female who doesn’t want to be objectified? Obviously, we can’t burn every costume on the shelves and most of us can’t fit into kids’ costumes anymore. Does this mean we have no choice but to dress like streetwalkers or not dress up at all? Well, no. If anyone out there is as unhappy as I am about this sexist view of Halloween costumes, I have a suggestion we all can try: make our own costumes. As someone who has done this in the past, it’s more fun to build a costume that’s creative, unique and worth showing off. Also, there are great consignment and thrift stores in nearby Princeton that can be utilized for cheap purchases. Not only will we be rejecting the notion that we must dress provocatively for Halloween, but we’ll all be saving some money too. Let’s be honest, costumes are expensive, averaging about $50 at Party City.
Halloween is a holiday that has become yet another excuse for the degradation of women. They’re expected to be sexy, in short skirts and low-cut tops. This idea is distasteful and sexist. To stray away, women can always start making their own costumes. While Halloween has become more stressful for college-aged women, this doesn’t mean we have to be miserable. There are ways to avoid this stereotype and still have fun. Here’s to hoping that we all make this a great, tasteful Halloween.
-Samantha Sawh
Freshman journalism major
Printed in the 10/23/13 edition.

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