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Halloween costumes: empowering or degrading to women?

At least 90% of Halloween costumes in the women’s section are designed to be “sexy.” However, there is a fine line between what could be considered attractive and what is straight-up objectifying.

There is nothing wrong with a woman wanting to dress up and feel sexy, especially on Halloween. But it becomes a problem when the choice to stay modest is barely even an option.

If you Google search “Halloween costumes for women,” images of half-dressed women flood your screen. Most of the options consist of very little fabric, which is tight-fitting and shows plenty of cleavage, compared to searching “Halloween costumes for men,” which results in a majority of fully-clothed options that more accurately depict real professions.

Cori Nichols, a sophomore at Salisbury University, feels there is a big gap between men and women when it comes to Halloween costumes.

“I do not think they’re sexist towards women, but I do feel like they sexualize women,” Nichols said. “Most costumes are portrayed to be ‘sexy’ and most people expect women to wear something sexually appealing as a costume.”

This trend of women wearing sexy halloween costumes brings a question to the table. Are women dressing this way to feel empowered, or are they doing it because they feel pressured by society?

As Cady Heron in “Mean Girls” once said, “In the real world, Halloween is when kids dress up in costumes and beg for candy. In Girl World, Halloween is the one day a year when a girl can dress up like a total slut and no other girls can say anything else about it.”

Escaping this pressure to dress sexy is incredibly challenging, especially if you don’t want to make your own costume. Stores like Party City or Spirit Halloween in Salisbury are cluttered with costumes that are overly gendered and objectifying.

The concept of a more gender-neutral costume doesn’t really exist in these establishments. If you’re a woman and you’re on the hunt for a cop outfit, chances are you won’t find one without a weirdly inaccurate representation of what a cop uniform really is.

In fact, pretty much every costume regarding women in the workplace is geared toward sex appeal, instead of the profession itself.

In 2006, The New York Times ran an article titled “Good Girls Go Bad, for a Day.” In the article, a costume merchant was interviewed and said that since the early 2000s, sexy costumes had become so popular they comprised “90 to 95 percent of our female costumes.”

Sydney Rogers, a sophomore at SU, dreads Halloween because of the unrealistic expectation of how women are supposed to dress up.

“I’m definitely not a ‘small’ girl, and it is always so difficult for me to find a costume that fits and that I feel comfortable in,” Rogers said. “I hate that almost every costume package shows a perfect, ‘model-like’ woman on the cover. I wish more costumes targeted plus-size women.”

Every woman deserves to feel comfortable and sexy. One woman may feel her prettiest showing off most of her skin, while another may feel most beautiful flaunting barely any skin at all.

It’s important for costume retailers to remember this “spectrum of sexiness.” By creating a wider variety of costumes for women of all sizes, it gives them the freedom to choose how they want to dress on Halloween.

There is a strong border separating men and women’s Halloween costumes, and this social gap needs to be addressed.

Again, there is absolutely nothing wrong with either gender choosing to show more skin, but there is clear discrimination geared toward women from costume retailers.

But no matter what you choose to wear this Halloween, wear it with confidence.



Staff Writer

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