4 Horrifying Facts About the Sexy Halloween Costume Industry
In an ad that was recently pulled from YouTube for the crime of being shitty, Subway reminded women everywhere that their ONLY option for a Halloween costume is "sexy version of literally any noun in the English language."
The people that thought this up wear helmets as part of their normal day.
Unless they plan on spending hours making costumes from scratch, ladies are given no choice but to dress up like they're brainstorming a character for the Erotic Wrestling Federation. Which is fine if you want to go to a party as Sexy Hermione, but what if you just want to be plain old Hermione? Will the aggressive sexualization of the most fun holiday of the year ever end?
Nope. The problem has become so systemic that it just perpetuates itself with minimal (and counterintuitive) input from us, like some kind of insane robot.
Halloween Is Designed to Screw Over Women
First of all, Halloween is sexualized for women, period. Even if the "women" in question are barely out of diapers. For example, here are a few not-at-all uncommon costumes for girls who are still in elementary school, which you may remember as the time of your life when you consumed nothing but juice and boogers and still believed one or two of your favorite cartoon characters were real people:
If you see a toddler in that outfit please let a real cop know.
Those are three of the six costumes that Party City has for girls in the "Career Costumes" category (the other offerings include a pink boxer in booty shorts and a Katy Perry outfit). These seem less like fun ways to spark little girls' imaginations and more like an ad in Rusty Cargo Van Enthusiast Monthly.
For comparison, let's take a look at the career costumes for little boys. Are we dressing Timmy Jenkins in a cowboy costume with assless chaps or telling him that one of his six career choices is to become the sexual panther that was David Lee Roth in the 1980s? Of course not, because that would be totally insane. No, the boys get at least 17 career costume options, and they all look like this:
The flight suit is the same size as the one Tom Cruise wore in the movie.
In other words, boys get to look like tiny versions of professional adults. Girls have to dress up like tiny stripper versions of professional adults.
Then there's the interesting problem presented by Gamora from Guardians of the Galaxy. The movie was a huge hit, and Gamora is a strong female character, so it's great that little girls finally have a chance to get a costume from the store of a female superhero they've seen on the big screen. Since this is a children's costume we're talking about, surely the designers would have selected something appropriate. After all, Gamora wears a few different outfits in the movie, including a full body-covering red flight suit, so it's not like there aren't options ...
"Not shitty" could have been one.
Haha, nope. We went with the skin-tight leather catsuit, complete with knee-high boots and a handy green shirt to represent all of Gamora's exposed skin. In an astonishing feat, the children's version manages to show MORE SKIN than the virtually identical adult version:
However, both are equally lazy in effort.
Notice how the one trait of Gamora's that would make everyone recognize your costume immediately, regardless of which of her outfits you were wearing, is conspicuously absent in both versions -- Gamora's green skin. Neither the little girl nor the woman painted their faces green, because women have to be pretty at all times, even when pretending to be fictional alien assassins.
It's the Top of the Halloween-Spending Food Chain
We'll spend a shocking $7.4 billion on Halloween this year, more than any other holiday or celebration except for Christmas (though if giving gifts were part of the Halloween tradition, Christmas would quickly become the washed-up former champion signing autographs at car shows). And while much of that is spent on candy for children and candy for adults (read: booze), over a third of it will go to purchasing costumes: more than $2.5 billion, just on fanciful outfits.
So very fancy.
Unsurprisingly, people don't drop that kind of cash just buying costumes for their kids -- it's estimated that more than half of that $2.5 billion will be spent on costumes for adults. While men and women are about equally likely to dress up (25 percent vs. 27 percent), women are much more likely to plan their costumes well in advance (71 percent vs. 53 percent). This means that while men are running around trying to cut holes into a sheet on Halloween night, women have already purchased their costumes and any necessary accessories. Women are big business for Halloween companies. So they keep rolling out new and increasingly terrible sexy ideas for us, which is how we end up with things like the sexy killer whale, which looks more like you're dressed up as an arctic warrior wearing the skin of her greatest foe:
And, of course, the sexy pizza:
Pizza is already sexy as is, damn you.
As jubilantly insane as it seems, everything about this costume was a conscious, deliberate choice (made by a man). It didn't have to be that low cut, or that short, or that tight. Even the pizza slice is intentionally provocative (it's a giant V pointing directly to your vagina). The people who create these costumes aren't stupid -- heck, they may not even be crazy.
Furthermore, as you may have noticed, most costumes you buy from a store vary in quality from "this will probably look OK as long as I'm wearing it in the dark" to "this is a painted garbage bag that tore in half the very instant I tried to put it on," and yet they certainly aren't cheap to buy -- that sexy pizza suit will cost you $70. Almost all of our costumes are made in China for near slave-labor wages, so costume companies are probably making around a 200 percent profit for each item sold. That's a ton of incentive to keep cranking out "sexy stale bagel" costumes year after year.
The More Despicable You Find Them, the Stronger They Are
Speaking of which, the majority of the "sexy costumes" out there are intentionally absurd, because when websites (like us) talk about how crazy they are, that's a whole lot of free advertising. Think about it -- every year a new crop of articles gets published, covering these horrible costumes and ridiculing the creators as if they aren't in on the joke. The sexy pizza was outrageous enough to get a mention on The Daily Show.
The Internet joined its collective hands to guffaw incredulously at sexy Olaf, the reimagining of Olaf the bumbling snowman from Frozen as a severely breasted lingerie model. We'd include a link to the sales page of the costume, but we can't, because it sold the fuck out.
"It doesn't have to be a snowman."
A huge part of designing these costumes is making something so off-the-wall that people have to notice it. They're counting on us to make fun of them, because that's how shit gets sold.
Which brings us to our next point ...
People Are Buying This Stuff
Believe it or not, there was a time when not all women's Halloween costumes required you to show off more of your anatomy than a gynecological appointment. But then we all started buying the sexy ones instead of the normal ones (that's called "rebelling against centuries of patriarchal oppression," folks), and the free market listened. Paradoxically, the situation we now find ourselves in is our own fault.
Way to go, us.
That Olaf costume sold out. The sexy pizza costume is still available in only a few sizes, even after one employee at Yandy, the company responsible, was so convinced that no one would buy it she bet the (male) CEO that she would eat an entire pizza in public while wearing the costume if it sold well.
Another costume company now sells so many revealing outfits that they have three different categories of "sexy," presumably organized according to the highly scientific scale of boner generation. Sexy has become the standard, so in order to stand out now, you have to sell "ultra-sexy" costumes, and once that becomes the norm, we'll all have to buy "turbo-sexy" costumes. Pretty soon, women are just going to spend Halloween naked with ghosts painted over their nipples. It's gotten to the point where women have to buy sexy costumes regardless of how they feel about them, because that's the only thing anyone sells. When your choices are dress as sexy Charlie Tuna or stay at home and watch Netflix, Charlie Tuna is going to win that fight more often than not.
For more frightening and/or titillating Quick Fixes, check out 6 Halloween Pranks for Sociopaths With Unlimited Budgets and 6 Halloween Pranks That Went Horribly Wrong.