Are Halloween costumes too sexy?

offensive costumes
Students Cleo Stratton and Samantha Keating dress up for Halloween. Photo: Amy Jones

Sexy Halloween costumes have sparked a debate among women about what is sexy and what is sexist.

Some women embrace Halloween as a time to dress sexier than usual while others feel that racy costumes promote a negative female image.

Some female students at Langara College say it is important to be aware of the negative female stereotypes these costumes promote.

Social Service Worker Student Molly Rader believes women have a right to dress how they want but should be aware about what kind of image they are portraying.

“On an individual level, if you want to dress a certain way, that’s your right as a woman,” she said. “On a cultural level, I don’t think we stop to think about it critically enough.”

Fellow student Issy van Blankenstein, is dressing up as sexy Little Red Riding Hood this year.

“My costume is slutty,” said van Blankenstein. “You can dress up once a year and you can dress up however you want. I want to look sexy.” She said she doesn’t care if people judge her.

Sexy or sexist?

Student Lauren Thomson feels the problem with the costume debate is that it’s an excuse for “slut-shaming”.

“I think it’s problematic to talk about it as slut or not-slut,” said Thomson. “It’s oppressive against women to self-identify in that way, or to allow other people to identify you in that way.”

Instructor Nancy Pollak teaches women’s studies at Langara. She said retail Halloween costumes give women bad choices for what looks powerful.

“It’s reinforcing the idea that your power and your value lies in sexualizing yourself and not necessarily on your own terms,” she said.

Pollak said that popular costumes like “sexy nurse”, “slutty cop” and “French maid” are “complete porn tropes,” created by male adult filmmakers and are not reliable depictions of female sexuality.

“Every women in our culture needs to give some pause and think about what the stereotypes are of female desirability and whether or not she feels comfortable with them, whether they reflect her own sense of her sexual power [and] sexual agency.”

Reported by Amy Jones

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