I have a love/hate relationship with Halloween, and Halloween costumes. OK, it’s mostly a hate-based relationship. I haven’t dressed up since I was ten and the few occasions where I have “worn a costume,” it’s been my making a half-assed attempt to be something where I could wear clothes I already owned (see: Bridget Jones in 2004; random Ravenclaw in 2008).
My main problem, as an adult? The ridiculous preponderance of “sexy” costumes for women. I know we all love the Mean Girls joke about girls letting out their inner slut on Halloween, but as a woman who doesn’t *want* to be a Sexy Taxi Cab Drive or a Sexy Pirate, I find Halloween and Halloween costume shopping to be a tedious, disheartening process.
I actually wrote about this topic on my old blog, Mavenity, in a post titled “This Halloween, I Want To Be A Slutty Tax Accountant,” wherein I discussed the disparity between men’s and women’s costume options, the passivity of female costumes, the ridiculous things that have “sexy” variations at Halloween and the Male Gaze. A snippet from that post:
For men’s costumes, we see the opposite. You’re not going to see “sexy” in the title of any of their offerings, or clever plays on words (aforementioned Heidi Ho, Tribal Tease, anyone?). Men get to be superheroes, doctors, historical leaders and goofy characters (clowns, Sesame Street characters) without having to be sexy versions of them, an ostensible difference from the plethora of Disney-and-childhood icon inspired ladies costumes that feature shorter skirts and lower necklines than the (age appropriate) originals. So on a day when women get to dress up to be anything they want to be, they get to be a) sexy and b) subservient while men get to be a) strong and b) dominant?
… It begs the question: are most Halloween costumes for adult women ueber slutty because women WANT to exercise their sexpot fantasies, or because MEN want women to exercise their sexpot fantasies, and they’re the ones designing and marketing the costumes? Do women do this to themselves, or is it all a part of the Male Gaze?
Beyond the “but I don’t WANT to be sexy…” issue, where I run into a big, fat brick wall is Halloween costume sizing. I generally don’t consider myself plus-size — not in the fashion & store sense. I’ve found the fit of clothing at stores like Lane Bryant and Torrid don’t work with my proportions (big on the bottom, but with a tapered waist and really small shoulders), so I’m stuck with the largest standard size offered in whatever mainstream stores deign to go up to size 14/16.
Halloween costumes for women, however, work extra hard to make women feel like shit about themselves. Not only are we supposed to be SEXY!, if you are above a size 10, you’re plus-size. And plus-size Halloween costumes are… shall we say lacking? On the one hand, the plus size costumes are less sexy — they add more fabric in places, such as around the bust line — but at the same time a) there is FAR LESS selection (the specific costumes that are chosen for the “fat girls” is… interesting, to say the least) b) as bad as SEXY! Halloween costumes are, it begs the question: why are the plus-size costumes less sexy?! Fat girls can’t be sexy? (this is where I start to feel conflicted) and c) my GOD the sizing is TERRIBLE.
Plus-size costumes are really shit with proportions — despite being for sizes 12+, different costumes make bold assumptions about “plus-size” bodies. Some are WAY too big in the bust, others are shockingly small in the hip, and the inches differ between brand and even different costumes. It’s bizarre that, as a size 14, the 2X in one brand was appropriately sized for my inches (large enough in the bust but small enough in the waist… AND big enough in the hips), but in another the 2X was way too large… and the 1X too small. I can’t imagine being a fit size 12 who is too “big” for standard XL but too small for plus-sizes. Who do they expect to fit into this stuff?
This year, I’ve been invited to a real deal, proper Halloween party, by friends who actually care about dressing up. So Heidi, Rochelle and I went Halloween costume shopping, which resulted in me getting into a pouty, adolescent huff after perusing the ladies (and plus-size) costume options at the store. Not only was I struck, as always, by the marked difference between the men’s section and the women’s (HEROIC vs. SEXYYYYY) but I just wasn’t moved by anything in the plus-size section: Greek Goddess, Policewoman, Pirate, Disney characters, various historical garb. The one thing I would consider, they didn’t have plus-size in store: a German beer girl (but not a sexy kind… would that I could afford a REAL dirndl!).
So I took to the Internet to see what my options were… and found it BIZARRE that I am a 2X in plus-size Halloween costumes! I took the plunge and ordered a plus-size German beer girl (sorry, I refuse to think of myself as a wench, kthanx!), which arrived and, yes, fits (it’s actually kind of lose). However, the fabric is cheap, and it is ridiculously short. Am I becoming one of Those Women by wearing a Sexy costume, or just making the best of it that I can? (incidentally, my plan is to buy a shaper to wear underneath so that a) the slightly too-big costume doesn’t bunch in weird places and b) so I have some “costume underwear” on b/c if I even tilt slightly, you can see my bum. But c) I might just buy leggings)
What do you think? Are your Halloween costume go-tos store bought, sexy variations? Do you defy the sexy lady costume trend? What’s your favorite costume to date? What are you going as this year?Any plus-size costume recs? Or any ire you want to express over selection?
Run wild! Let’s talk about being a woman and dealing with Halloween!