This is the time of year when Concerned Citizens, such as MYSELF, like to point out how uncomfortably sexualized Halloween costumes have gotten, especially for little girls, and how the sexualization of Halloween costumes for girls and women of all ages is a symptom of the way in which women are positioned in our culture as containers for “sex,” and are valued primarily– and I mean that literally, as in, first and above all else– on how well we inhabit that role. Women are judged on how well they contain “sex” no matter how much wealth or power they have, and no matter what else they happen to be doing at the moment. You could be accepting the Nobel Prize for Physics and you would still be judged primarily on how well you are enacting the role of sex toy.
While the sexualization of children needs to be stopped, I’m not sure what the answer is to the overall sexualization of women, especially as regards Halloween– the human brain responds to visual sexual stimuli, and this dance of display/observe is older than humans are– but working towards a major cultural shift that opens up the way women are perceived so that perception can contain both sexuality as well as other things– every scrap of humanity we allow men– should be the goal here. To be clear, sexualized costumes for adult women are not the problem in and of themselves, and women should be able to display their sexuality whenever they like. I’m not here to slut shame.
In fact, I’m not here to discuss Sexoween at all. I think most people are aware of the Sexoween issue to some degree. In prepping for this article, I dove into the many Halloween costume websites, and while there were plenty of the expected “sexy plumber” and “sexy branch manager” and “sexy ball peen hammer” costumes, I was floored by the massive amount of racist costumes for sale at major costume retailers JUST SITTING THERE ONLINE AS IF THEY’RE NOT COMPLETELY INSANELY JAW-DROPPINGLY RACIST. Many of them have the extra-added bonus of being sexist AND racist. Of course I knew racist costumes exist, but the flat-out, overtly racist, fuck-it-it-might-as-well-be-1954 straight-up racism in both these costumes and their accompanying text descriptions surprised me. Not that I believe retailers have a single fuck to give about racism, just that I would imagine there would have been public outcry long before now about this. And yet.
While Spirit was the big winner, there were plenty to be found all over. I could have done this quite literally all day long. The costumes, along with their accompanying text, I present to you without comment. OR EDITING, although it pained me.
“Want a ‘fro that’s totally tight? Pull on our Old School Tight Afro Wig for a look that’s all right. This Tight Afro Wig features larger-than-usual black afro curls in a slightly disorganized mop of hair that reflects your carefree attitude towards life. No job, no problem! ”
“Hey amigo, this Mexican Costume is bound to be noticed! Hey Amigo Mexican Costume features a fringed poncho, long moustache, red trimmed sombrero, and pants with an attached plush donkey and rider legs, which create the illusion that you’re riding said plush donkey.”
“Cool Arabian nights will be blazing like in the daytime when you wear the Sexy Arabian Seductress Halloween Costume. It features a halter bikini top with a rose accent and beaded chain trim, matching mini-shorts with an attached panel skirt and gold chain trim. Sheer arm sleeves also come included to make your dances more seductive and mysterious and a gold headband and rose head comb remind your significant other why royalty has everything the best. If you’re getting into belly dancing and want to put on a show, you’ll be instantly prepared to add the sultry component that makes these dances a marvel to watch. Put on a spectacular show and become the head courtesan of the harem. Stop by our accessories page to add some jewelry accessories to add some lively noise to the dances that will keep him wanting.”
“There’s no need to send smoke signals to get your point across when you wear this Reservation Royalty adult womens costume. The fringed, microsuede mini dress comes complete with a matching feathered headband. You’ll be a smokin’ hot site in this sexy womens costume.”
“Show me da money! Be a hustler on Halloween when you don this outrageous Pimpin’ Da Hos adult mens costume. It’s all flash so be ready to talk the talk and walk the walk in this over the top ensemble. Great couples or group costume…”
“Explore the mysteries of the East when you don the Asian Empress adult womens costume. The satiny black dress of this seductive and sexy womens costume features purple trim and comes complete with a pair of chopsticks for your hair. Add some mystery to Halloween!”
“Grab a bag of tortilla chips, open a can of salsa, and show off your spiciness in this Mexican Style mens costume. This funny costume comes with a colorful sarape, traditional sombrero, and giant mustache–sure to get you laughs both north and south of the border.”
“Spice things up with some south of the boarder heat when you wear this smokin’ hot, Sexy Bandita adult womens costume. The brown, vest-like top comes complete with a matching low-rise fringed mini skirt, a serape-inspired striped scarf, a red bandanna and a belt with shot glasses.”
Finally, deserving its own category of TAKE A SEAT wrongness, I give you:
“Be the big money when you trick yourself out in this Phat Pimp child costume. The purple, polyester jumpsuit of this pimp costume features zebra print trim, attached fake money, a PVC waist loop and a matching zebra print hat.”
Like I said, I could have done this literally all day long. It stands to reason that companies wouldn’t be selling this nonsense if people weren’t buying it. There are an infinite variety of costumes you can choose that do not involve racism. Seriously. Do us all a favor and choose one.