Women’s Halloween costumes used as excuse for slut-shaming

Many women's Halloween costumes, like the "sexy nurse" above, have a tendency to objectify. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons) Many women's Halloween costumes, like the "sexy nurse" above, have a tendency to objectify. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Brianne Cail
Senior Reporter

“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.”

That line is from the cult classic teen comedy Mean Girls. Yet while Halloween is the single day of the year you can dress however you’d like, the judgment is there whether it’s in the form of unwanted attention or the judging remarks of a friend.

Slut-shaming happens year round, but spikes during Halloween because of the costumes worn. If you’re shopping for a Halloween costume, it’s obvious that most female costumes are over sexualized. A men’s firefighter costume will look similar to the uniform an actual firefighter wears, but a woman’s costume will consist of a form-fitting dress or impossibly short shorts, both of which are completely unpractical if you’re to fight a fire. Women’s costumes are aggressively revealing; you’re hard pressed to find one that isn’t.

It’s a double-standard that has existed for years but whether you want to go against it or not is your choice.

My first year of university I dressed as Spider-Girl and I thought wearing red leotards was the most daring costume I would ever wear. Since that year I’ve been Little Red Riding Hood, an army girl of sorts and a few French maids, all of which could be considered ‘slutty.’ Do I consider myself to be slutty then because of wearing this costume for a night? No. The only thing about me that changed in those years was my confidence. There is the idea that dressing in a provocative costume takes away your empowerment as a woman, and while I can see why some people would believe this, I disagree. If a woman feels confident enough to wear a revealing costume, who are we to bash her?

We, as women, are trapped inside a box when it comes to Halloween. If we decide to take that sexy version of whatever costume we want, we’re reprimanded for the way we dress. I’ve been out for Halloween and dressed in a revealing way and I’ve had guys assume I’ll go home with them and then get angry I don’t. I’ve had friends declare that I’ve ‘lowered my standards’ because of the costume I’ve chosen, or that I’m seeking the wrong attention. My costume does not reflect my standards, which is exactly why it’s a costume. It’s me dressing up for fun, for a night.

My view is, if a woman decides one Halloween she wants to dress up as that sexy black cat then all the power to her. Her body, her choice. This choice of a revealing costume is made by her, for her. If she’s wearing it to impress someone, that’s just as fine. But dressing in a “scandalous” way is in no way a form of consent, and doesn’t give any permission for anything regardless of what some people may think. “Just because it’s become more or less culturally acceptable to dress in a less-than-traditional manner for a night does not make it okay for women to be ‘slut-shamed’ or for men to harass women simply because of what they are wearing,” states an article from the University of Michigan campus newspaper. We’re in a different country, but laws on sexual harassment still apply even when a woman, or a man, is dressed in costume on Halloween.

Halloween is the day of the year you can be anyone you want and wear whatever you want. Want to be a sexy black cat? Rock it! Prefer a goofy costume that’s totally punny? You do you! The point is what you wear is your choice and no one has the right to say anything about it, on Halloween or any day of the year.

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