Yes, we’ve all heard that “Mean Girls” quote about how Halloween is the one night a year when girls can dress like a total slut. And I’ll admit that the “sexy costume” craze has led to some weird combinations, like Sexy Chewbacca and Sexy Skunk. But every year, in the weeks leading up to our scariest holiday, the slut-shaming rises to a dull roar, and everybody starts saying things like, “When did Halloween become an excuse to dress up like a slut?”
The answer is ALWAYS. When I was in 6th grade, I begged my mother to let me dress up as a hooker, because Halloween has always been about dressing up like a slut. And you know why? Because it’s fun! Embracing your sexuality, flaunting your goodies, and courting male attention are not inherently terrible activities. In a perfect society, we’d all be able to do those things from time to time. Unfortunately, we live in a sometimes crappy, often sexist society where wearing a skimpy mini says so much more than “I feel like showing off my legs tonight.”
Nobody cares if dudes use the holiday as a reason to walk around in a diaper or a dress, but we’re all supposed to be alternately annoyed/disgusted by the audacity of the women who choose to lace up an out-of-character corset or pull on some knee-high fishnets.
In our real lives, we have to button up and watch our hemlines in order to be taken seriously and treated with respect. Wearing something “slutty” means opening ourselves up to a whole world of inferences about our sexual availability and the advances that follow.
But on one day a year, you can dress however you want without worrying about what message you’re sending, because the whole point is to be something you’re not. And while some of the standard fare – sexy cop, sexy schoolgirl, sexy nurse – may be unoriginal, it’s also some of the most time-tested fantasy material for men and women.
And what’s wrong with taking our fantasies out of the dark bedroom and out on the town for the night? And what’s so “slutty” about wearing something revealing, anyway? Does dressing up as a cheerleader or Playboy Bunny automatically mean you have to sleep with 15 guys?
Frankly, that special tone of judgmental superiority, which so many people adopt while discussing this issue, seems to me to speak of a deeper discomfort with female sexuality, of others or your own.
So, I say, if you want to dress up as a stripper or Sexy SpongeBob Square Pants, go right ahead. It’s a holiday about parties and getting candy – it’s supposed to be fun. But do wear a coat. There’s nothing sexy about pneumonia.