Halloween always has been and always will be many peoples’ favourite holiday – dressing up, freaking yourself out with ridiculous horror films and eating a shit ton of sweets. Unfortunately, as the years go by, it’s becoming more and more prevalent that women are expected to wear skimpy costumes when they dress up, à la Mean Girls. We all remember the scene when Cady arrives at the Halloween party dressed as a zombie bride, only to find her friends wearing little more than enough to cover their goods.

The fact is, not all women want to parade around with their wobbly bits out in the freezing cold winter weather. We live in Britain, not the Bahamas. Yet when typing “Halloween Costumes” into Google, we know exactly what we’re going to find. I click on the first link to a website I see, and from there I click “Devil Costumes”.

The first image that comes up is pretty standard; a man wearing a red shirt, made of some kind of foam and sculpted into Hulk-like muscles. Manly as fuck. He’s wearing a creepy looking mask and carrying a big scary pitchfork; overall, nothing out of the ordinary. The next image is a female version of the same costume. She’s wearing a skimpy red dress, cutesy little horns and is holding a teeny little pitchfork that you’d struggle to poke someone’s eye out with. What if you want to look manly and scary? Nobody wants to feel the wind around their belly button thankyouverymuch.

Spot the Difference anyone? Here's an easy one.
Spot the Difference anyone? Here’s an easy one.

Moving on to “Vampire Costumes”; the first male costume is respectable – a waistcoat, a cloak, fangs, a wig – your standard traditional Bram Stoker style vampire. “Sexy Vampire Costume” however, is a completely different story. Underwear has more material than this costume. Sexy thigh high socks, a corset-dress-thing that (just) covers her bum.

How did we end up here? What began hundreds of years ago as a festival celebrated by Christians and Pagans to remember the dead was inevitably going to end up a “Hallmark Holiday”, a huge excuse for businesses to make money and sell us crap we really don’t need. But why are all the womens’ costumes we can find super skimpy? It’s 2013. Why are mens’ costumes perfectly normal, unrevealing and occasionally scary, whilst women are expected to bare a bit of leg and show some cleavage, because there are literally no other costumes to buy? Why are women still being treated as objects, there for the sole purpose of keeping the men amused?

If you’re confident enough in your own skin to wear something that bares your bottom, then go for it my friend, good for you. You are completely entitled to do so. Many women, however, don’t feel comfortable bearing all to the world, and don’t feel comfortable knowing what’s probably going through peoples’ heads as they look at them. Many of us been there; walking home after a messy one, wearing shoes you can’t quite walk in and wearing a dress that maybe, with hindsight, might be a little bit too short for you. Here come the creepy dickbags that slow down as they drive past you and shout some obscene, sexist comments in your general direction. Nobody likes that. It’s humiliating, degrading and downright rude. Maybe you’ve worn a low cut top out and people have made comments like, “put them away” or “what a slut”. Slut-shaming is just as inexcusable as cat-calling. It’s a sad fact that women who are comfortable in their own skin are finding themselves more and more afraid to embrace their body and show some skin, because nobody likes the unwanted attention and harassment (and occasional groping) that come along with it.

A study done by ICM recently has revealed that over a quarter of British people believe that a woman “deserves to be raped” if she is wearing “sexy” or “revealing” clothing. But how do we begin to combat this opinion if almost all the womens’ Halloween costumes for sale are both “sexy” and “revealing”? In an ideal world, we shouldn’t have to worry about not wearing certain clothes because we don’t want to attract unwanted attention. We shouldn’t have to fear comments that make us uncomfortable or sexual or physical attacks, just because we want to wear something that makes us feel good.

No costume is safe
No costume is safe

After a lot of consideration, the only real solution to this problem is to expect the same of men. How about a sexy Hulk, in some purple Speedos, who has painted his entire body green? Or a sultry sailor, wearing teeny hot pants and a low cut v-neck shirt?

To end on a more serious note; if you are a female, and you are planning on wearing a skimpy costume this year, then good for you. Work it girl! Remember that you are the only one who has a right to your body; remember that no costume, skimpy or not, is an invitation for harassment or rape. Wearing a certain type of costume is definitely not “asking for it”; only actually asking for it is “asking for it”.

[Katy Simmons]

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