Halloween Costumes: All in Good Fun or Problematic?


Halloween is just around the corner. With its arrival comes candy, scary movies, gender stereotyping, the pressure of societal standards, and hyper-sexualization which is evident in many costumes, especially those meant for women. According to the National Retail Federation, 157 million Americans will dress up, go to a party, trick-or-treat, or give out candy for Halloween this year, spending an expected $2.5 billion on costumes alone.

The enormous  amount of money spent on costumes will go towards ones like “Pocahottie,” the “Blessed Babe Nun,” “Frisky Freshman School Girl,” and more. Costumes with sex appeal such as these objectify women and can lower self esteem. The prevalence of hyper-sexualized women’s costumes shows both men and women that a woman’s appearance is more important than her intellectual or physical capabilities. The models used to sell these costumes are often photoshopped, like those in many modern advertisements, and are seen to have what is viewed as “the perfect body.” Due to the revealing nature of many of these costumes, women and girls tend to compare themselves with these unnatural and unachievable images of perceived perfection even more than they would with day-to-day attire. If a woman is not necessarily comfortable with wearing these types of costumes or feels that she is not going to look the way she’d like to in one, she shouldn’t have to feel the additional pressures to look like what is perceived to be attractive. People can dress however they’d like, especially for Halloween, but many costumes express the idea that attractiveness is the only asset to be had.

During Halloween, boys are pressured to be superheroes, doctors, or soldiers, and it is insisted that girls dress up as princesses, fairies, or wear another costume that would emphasize attractiveness. These examples of hyper-masculinity or femininity impose strict gender roles. Men are portrayed as strong, while women’s costume characters are often weak and sometimes helpless. Additionally, very few parents would allow their children to wear something meant for the opposite sex, because it would contradict society’s view of what is “normal” for men or for women.

Of course, Halloween is meant to be fun. It’s always interesting to dress up every year, go to parties, and go trick-or-treating’s although the prevalence of offensive, over-exaggerated gender-normative, or hyper-sexualized costumes continues to raise concerns. When a person dresses up in a costume, that costume expresses what they want to be. When a new blockbuster movie comes out, the main character’s clothing or hairstyles is often made into costumes or wigs, because people look up to these characters. What a person decides to wear on Halloween often expresses what they idolize, find attractive, or believe people want to see. Costumes which are popular or simply available are made because people will by them. What does this say about the people of today or about western culture as a whole?

For more information, visit:

http://kgou.org/post/sexy-halloween-costumes-raise-questions-about-gender-roles-objectification#stream/0 http://www.aucegypt.edu/newsatauc/Pages/story.aspx?eid=1242 http://psychologybenefits.org/2014/10/31/halloween-costumes-all-in-good-fun/