“It’s not fair,” I’d complain to my parents as I leafed through the glossy pages of the Party City catalogue that came in the mail each year. “All the guys’ costumes look normal—why don’t the girls’?”
The side-by-side comparisons of the male and female versions of a costume made the distinction between the two blatantly obvious. A boy’s pirate costume, for instance, included knee-length coattails, weathered-looking boots, and an impressive feathered hat. The girl’s costume, on the other hand, was comprised of a red miniskirt, a tiny corset, and high heels.
My young mind conceived a great injustice: boys were allowed to be whatever they wanted to be, but girls were left with no option but the sexed-up versions of the boys’ costumes. I think what bothered me the most is that I wasn’t given the option of being the “real thing.” As a kid who dreamed of becoming a pirate, I was incensed. If I chose to dress up as a pirate, by God, I wanted to look like the real thing, not like a waitress at a seafood joint.
It’s not the promiscuity implied by the costumes that bothers me (although I personally don’t wish to dress that way). What bothers me is the fact that it’s gotten to the point where, out of the multitude of women’s costumes, there are only a handful that don’t involve bare midriffs, short skirts, or plunging necklines. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that if I ever wished to dress as anything besides a slutty pirate or nurse, I would have to either purchase a boy’s costume or make my own (I have done both).
The ubiquitous and exclusive nature of the “sexy” costume has passed the threshold of reason into what-the-heckery. Cracked.com, in their article “26 Sexy Halloween Costumes That Shouldn’t Exist,” sums up the extent to which the costume industry has gone to sexualize the strangest things. To be fair, a few guy’s costumes made the list, but the overwhelming majority of the outrageous costumes are intended for women.