It’s been a trend over the last few years (a decade? more?) that Halloween has become a holiday targeted at adults as much as children.  Which means that adults now have a huge selection of ready-made costumes available for them at their local party store or pop-up Halloween shop.  And I don’t think it’s escaped anybody’s notice that the costumes for women have grown sexier and sexier every year.  It’s harder to find a “non-sexy” costume than one that shows some leg or cleavage or just about everything on a woman’s body.


It’s actually absurd, the lengths (or shorts) costume manufacturers will go to make something “sexy.”

Since women’s Halloween costumes have grown more and more sexual, Halloween had been dubbed by many as “Slutoween.”  And I just can’t get on board with that.

I’ll be the first to acknowledge that women’s Halloween costumes have become extremely revealing, and the designers will find any profession, any object, any popular culture figure and find a way to make them “sexy.”  It’s verging on absurd.  But what I will not do, what I refuse to do, is ridicule or shame the women who decide to wear them.  We’ve developed a culture of “slut shaming,” where we heap insults and derogatory remarks on women who are sexual, enjoy their sexuality, or even just like to dress in sexy clothing, whether or not it’s Halloween.

It’s a woman’s absolute prerogative to dress however she wants, whenever she wants.  If Halloween is the time that she can feel free enough to wear sexy clothes, then, by God, that is her right.  Just as it’s her right to not be pawed, hooted at, or assaulted for wearing said costume.  I know that in the past, I’ve tweeted and posted images of sexy costumes and ridiculed them.  But what I wasn’t ridiculing were the women who opt to wear these costumes.  I simply find the “sexification” process to be absurd, so that beloved childhood characters or inanimate pieces of food become suddenly “sexy.”

So no, I don’t believe in “Slutoween.”  Let women wear the costumes they want to wear.  It’s their choice, and now of all times, we need to respect women’s choices.


I do have a problem with the sexualization of Halloween costumes for teenage girls.  To wit:

What concerns me about these costumes is that teen girls are feeling pressured to act or dress sexy before they themselves feel comfortable doing so.  The teen years can be confusing and uncomfortable, especially when it comes to figuring out your place within the gendered roles of our society.  It’s not wrong for a teenage girl to have sexual feelings or even act on them, but it’s not right if they feel pressured to behave a certain way before they are ready to.  Again—it’s a matter of choice.

What I really, truly cannot stand in Halloween costumes are costumes that utilize racial and cultural stereotypes.  That is offensive to me.

There’s simply no excuse for this kind of insensitivity.  Some might say, “Come on, it’s all in fun! I’m not racist! I don’t mean any harm by it!”  But every time a cultural or racial stereotype is perpetuated, it’s hurtful and cruel, and ignores centuries of oppression, marginalization, violence and prejudice.  I will never take issue with a woman who wants to dress sexily for Halloween, but I will always be offended if someone opts to wear a costume that mocks or stereotypes another race or culture.  That is inappropriate.

So this Halloween, wear what you want to wear, but remember to be sensitive toward others.  I wish everyone a safe, happy and fun Halloween!  Save me some candy!



“Slutoween” — 2 Comments

  1. Warning: this comment is the internet equivalent of War and Peace. Sorry.

    I vehemently agree with your entire post, but I have further feelings regarding this trend, too. The irritation I feel about the costumes is not that people choose to wear them (gods know I’ve rocked a corset and tutu way too many years to object to that), but rather at the pervasive sexism of the costume industry giants. There are so few non-sexualized costumes available for women that I have to wonder how many people only choose the incredibly objectifying costumes because they lack alternatives. Again, I’d like to emphasize that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with choosing a sexy costume. No slut-shaming here! Just speculating.

    A few weeks back, because my blood pressure was apparently not high enough, I went to spirithalloween.com and looked at the first 100 women’s costumes, vs. the first 100 men’s costumes. Not counting unisex costumes, I found about 5 or 6 women’s costumes that were NOT heavily sexualized. On the men’s side of things, I found two arguably sexualized costumes: a Trojan soldier inspired by the movie “300” and a Frank N Furter costume (which totally counts–I can’t be the only person in the world with a kink for men in makeup).

    The lack of options for women was obviously problematic, but since I was already acutely aware of it, I didn’t react much beyond a slight facepalm and a disappointed sigh. This is why I usually make my own costume. What did bother me, though, was the advertising blurb that accompanied each page. While the text from the men’s section highlights comfort, fun, and ease of access, the ad copy from the women’s section exclusively emphasizes sexuality. In other words, according to Spirit Halloween, men get to have fun and be whatever they want on Halloween, but women only get to choose what flavor of eye candy they get to be.

    Here’s the text from the women’s section:

    “Hey foxy lady! Strut your stuff this Halloween in a sexy costume from SpiritHalloween.com. Find the hottest Playboy costumes, the sexiest Leg Avenue costumes, the sauciest pirate costumes and some very wicked witch costumes…just a few of the fantasies you can explore this Halloween! Feeling fabulous? Fantastic adult fairy costumes, princess costumes and a plethora of professional costumes let you try out any and every role you’d like to play. Just want to be playful? Cute costumes abound, from Batgirl to Wilma Flintstone, adult barmaid costume to sexy French Maid costume – SpiritHalloween.com serves them up with style. If there’s more of you to love, you’ll love the vast selection of plus-size women’s costumes, designed to emphasize your sexy shape! Moms-to-be love our maternity costumes, especially the maternity angel costume and the maternity devil costume – either way it’s affordable, comfortable and fun! Live it up this Halloween and discover a new you; shop now to explore the many possibilities at SpiritHalloween.com, your easy one stop Halloween shop.”

    And this is from the men’s:

    “Guys are easy, and they want Halloween to be easy – guys know SpiritHalloween.com makes it easy to have fun and be cool on Halloween. No hassles, no headaches, just partying, laughs and fun with a huge selection of men’s costumes designed to fit any fellow and be easy on the wallet. Think big this Halloween and go for maximum fun – the adult men’s deluxe Joker costume is a winner along with the Dark Knight Batman costume, Spiderman, Iron Man or the Incredible Hulk. Feel like a kid in a candy store? No kidding, SpiritHalloween.com has some hysterical adult male costumes that will crack up the crowd – check out the gang from Sesame Street including the adult Bert and Ernie costumes, adult Teletubbies costumes and the adult Simpsons costumes. Don’t forget the classics – the adult banana and adult hot dog costumes are top dog! Joke costumes, sports costumes, monster costumes scary costume and more are all at SpiritHalloween.com, your easy one stop Halloween shop.”

    • I completely agree with you Rachel, that women have far less options than men when it comes to sexy versus non sexy costumes, as if we’re being herded in a direction that not everyone will want to take.