When I went trick-or-treating as a little girl, I didn’t see streets lined with sexy Cinderellas and Sleeping Beauties and Snow Whites. Sure, there were the old standards—witches and ghosts and pumpkins—but I don’t remember the costumes of my era being as princessy and whorish as they are now. As a child of the 80s, my costumes included:
A scarecrow (stuffed with actual straw)
A smurf (not Smurfette)
A punk rocker
Dorothy (The Wizard of Oz)
A monarch butterfly
Now I feel sad for little girls at Halloween because the literal only costumes available are Elsa and Anna from Frozen.
In high school I was too cool to dress up for Halloween (though I did run through a few neighborhoods and smash a couple pumpkins because ANARCHY), and in college I went as a pirate one year and some kind of twisted half-angel/half-devil another. The other two years I was likely holed up studying for midterms or whatever. (Nerd problems.)
In the late 90s/early 2000s, there were a few girls who dressed provocatively for attention, but it didn’t seem like the norm. And if they did, they chose traditionally sexy costumes, like the sexy nurse, or sexy devil, or sexy kitten.
It wasn’t until the mid aughts that the whole slutty Halloween costume thing became a phenomenon in which ALL COSTUMES MUST BE SEXY. The sexy corn husk! The sexy carton of Chinese food! The sexy mustache! Sadly, this also seemed to coincide with when the princess costume became the only option for the young ones. So one year, sick of the rampant sexism ruining Halloween, I decided to fight the power and dress up as a symbol of feminism: Rosie the Riveter.
For those of you unfamiliar, Rosie the Riveter was a symbol of female empowerment during World War II, when women were taking over the jobs of the men who had enlisted to serve. I found myself a denim shirt and dark jeans and rolled up my sleeves and wore a red bandana on my head. I put a fake tattoo on my arm and dolled up my face in 1940s classic makeup.
I went out to the bars with my friends and was harassed for most of the evening. I was called a lumberjack, a d*ke, and Aunt Jemima (REALLY?!), and for those that didn’t call me outright names, there were actual snickers and pointing and laughing. Meanwhile, a girl walked by wearing only a thong and pasties, and all the “positive” attention was lathered on her.
Now I don’t mean to be naive here and expect people to fawn over a girl in a Mexican tuxedo while a practically naked chick walks by. But at least leave me alone. Why the snide remarks? Why the heckling? Because I dared to NOT dress slutty on Slutty-ween?
I haven’t dressed up for Halloween since, and I vowed that if I ever did, it would NEVER be in a sexy, degrading costume. Because fuck those assholes! Rosie the Riveter is awesome!
So this year, when my sister-in-law proposed a “Malice in Wonderland” Halloween party, what did I decide to dress up as? Slutty Tweedle Dee.
If you can’t beat em, join em, right? Well, that’s not exactly why. I’m a 34-year-old mother with chronic back pain—I haven’t had too many chances to look and feel sexy lately. Pulling off heels is tough, I can’t really work out, and in the last year my optometrist pretty much banned me from contact lenses, which means I wear coke-bottle horn-rimmed glasses day in and day out. I kind of figure this is my last call for sexy.
Even still, it’s hard not to feel self-conscious as I put together my sexy Halloween costume. It’s sexy-ish, but I don’t have the confidence to go full whore. Here’s a dry run of the basics, minus the blue bow tie accessory and red top hat I plan on wearing (plus slutty red lipstick and false eyelashes).
It kind of just looks like an outfit someone might wear hitting up a pub in Williamsburg. But for me, it’s a big step up from my daily grannie sweaters and boots. And it’s giving me serious anxiety as I count down the days until I’m exposing my mommy midriff to a party full of people. So in a way, this is me ripping off the band-aid. Here’s the tummy. Look at it. Just look at it. Because after this, I’m likely going to put it away for the rest of my life.