“Halloween is the one night a year when girls can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.” – Mean Girls
Halloween traces its roots to the ancient Celtic festival called Samhain. The Celts celebrated their new year on November 1 and believed that the night before, the boundary between living and dead became blurry. They celebrated Samhain on October 31 because they believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to Earth on this evening.
This explains where Halloween gets its scary appeal. In the Middle Ages, the early origins of trick-or-treating were present as well. Although it was first done by adults, people would go around on Halloween and ask each household for alcohol. During this time period, children would also beg for money on November 5 and beg for cakes on All Saints Day. By the 1920s or 1930s, Halloween transformed into a community-based holiday with parties and treats. The term “trick-or-treat” is first seen written in 1939 when towns began to make the streets safer for children to go out at night.
Decades later, the holiday became one in which children dress up, go door to door, and ask for candy throughout the night. Halloween carnivals were also very common to attract children. Adults also joined in on the fun, as haunted houses and adult bashes were held where adults could dress up as scary creatures with no fear of scaring children.
However, the holiday has taken a turn in recent years. The scary, gory, bloodied-up adult costumes are slowly being replaced by promiscuous and inappropriate ones, and these same costumes are beginning to be more prominent for females of a younger age. Most of today’s costumes geared towards 13-to-16-year-olds would make any grandmother blush. What is going on? Halloween is a great holiday to dress up, decorate the yard in gravestones, cobwebs, spiders, and more, but where did this provocative aspect come from?
As a 19-year-old female, it is hard not to notice this trend once the month of October hits. Party stores and specialty costume shops flood with new outfits. I remember when I was a child dressing up as a pop star, witch, pirate, Disney princess, etc. I’m not sure when the change occurred, but now the only costumes that seem available to someone my age are for sexualized professions where you could appear scantily clad.
You can be a French maid with the hemline of the dress so high that one gust of wind would probably expose just about everything. Or you could go for the super-sexualized nurse or policewoman costumes with incredibly low cut tops. If you’re feeling really daring, you could go against the grain and get the “plug in the socket” costumes or go for the sexualized nun costume. These stores have it all.
Not only are these costumes wildly sexual, it’s incredibly hard to find a costume that fits like it does on the model. I am very petite and nothing on me is that big. That being said, almost every woman’s costume is made for someone with DD cups and really long legs. So when I try on a costume, the length of the dress is much longer than it should be. However, the top of the outfit is always incredibly low cut, and since I have no way of filling out the costume, the top of it comes down so low, I’d have to wear a tank top underneath to feel halfway comfortable. That however ruins the entire costume.
I would also like to add that the material used to make the majority of the costumes is incredibly unflattering. Since the costume probably would only look good on 1% of the entire population, this also makes women incredibly self-conscious and October suddenly turns into National Crash Diet to Look Good in a Costume Month.
I’ve never really known when the sexualized Halloween costumes came about because right when I became a young adult, they seemed to already be there. So, I did a little research into one of the larger costume suppliers that I see at the stores: Leg Avenue. Leg Avenue, which is a lingerie store, was established in 1999 and boasts 650 different styles of Halloween costume and they are continuing to grow. The company brags that it is “one of the world’s largest intimate apparel wholesalers” and that “no one does sexy better!” I can’t speak for anyone else, but I do not think the Celts would approve of us taking their holiday and making it an excuse for women to dress up as sex objects.
Maybe our culture has desensitized us to the fact that the majority of young women will be prancing around in lingerie, going to parties, and probably meeting really sketchy guys on Halloween. It is very disheartening that women feel that the only way to get a male’s attention is through dressing promiscuously. The really sad thing is, no decent guy is going to take a girl seriously if she’s running around with a napkin’s worth of clothing on. These women will probably attract perverts who want to take advantage of them because they look like “that kind of girl.” Maybe that’s an unfair assumption, but if the point of Halloween was to party and dress like a slut, it wouldn’t have originated from the horrors of the living dead and it certainly wouldn’t be aimed at children.
Will we ever be able to change this horrifying trend? Will Halloween ever return to its roots of dressing up scary? I’m not really sure and I don’t think there is any way to forecast such cultural trends. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with dressing up in a cute outfit for Halloween. However, when you’re unsure whether you’re at a party or a strip club, that’s when the line has been crossed.