Halloween costumes can be fun, frugal, and feminist.
Halloween outfits for women seem to come in three types: scary, sexy, or slutty.
Actually I haven’t seen a scary costume since Cady in Mean Girls so maybe there’s just two.
The problem is that many of these costumes are inherently un-feminist.
Just to clarify, there’s nothing wrong with sexy or slutty costumes because women have a right to own their sexuality; in fact, I’m trying to reclaim the word slut in the same way that feminists have reclaimed the word bitch. If you want to rock a short skirt, low cut top, or even (to reference Mean Girls again) lingerie and animal ears, you do you.
It’s less about the clothes themselves and more about the message. Here are just some terrible costumes that I found during a quick Google search:
- Sexy Arab/African/Native American [delete as appropriate] princess costumes which embody both cultural appropriation and a lack of respect for the fact that WOC are more likely to be victims of sexual assault and less likely to be believed when they report it because of racist stereotypes.
- Slutty Nurse/Cop/Maid costumes represent the lack of value in female labour i.e. the men are doing real work, the women are there to look good. I honestly wouldn’t be upset if the typical male costume was as revealing.
- Nazi/KKK costumes… Have you taken a look at the world right now? What are you thinking? This is not okay. Why is anyone stocking these?
I want to present some Halloween costumes ideas, which can be as sexy, slutty, or scary as you like (let your imagination run wild) and don’t appropriate other cultures, diminish female work, or mock social justice movements.
The best part is that these looks can all be created using items from your own wardrobe (which suits the eco-friendly part of my feminism as well). I’ve even included YouTube make-up tutorials (where appropriate) to help you look the part.
What is more feminist than celebrating your right to control what happens to your body? No matter what form of contraceptive you use/don’t use there is a costume for you, from looping a clear hula hoop around you to go as the Nova Ring to a contraceptive pill swing dress. You could even hand out condoms/dental dams to your fellow party-goers; that’s certainly better than snack size chocolate bars, right?
Traditionally, clowns aren’t all that sexy but Kate McKinnon pulled it off recently in SNL and where she leads, I’ll generally follow. While Pennywise’s costume is incredibly specific (as in not something that you generally have lying about), you can make one on the cheap using an old white button up and white pants/skirt and tights. Just glue some red pom poms (from your local craft store) to the front of the shirt and sew some ruffled frills around the collar, hem, and cuffs. Also, try to hold a red balloon at all times.
Rosie the Riveter
She’s one of the ultimate symbols of female labour and all you need to recreate the iconic look is a bandana, a statement lip, and a ticket to the gun show. Bonus points if you can also manage the Victory Rolls in your hair.
I have a habit of dressing up as my pop culture feminist idols for Halloween, even dressing as Daria Morgendorffer one year when we were just sitting at home watching horror films. So why not go as Lisa? After all, she only ever wears that one red dress and a string of pearls. I recommend pairing the outfit with a bag shaped like a sax for that authentic Lisa vibe. If you’re looking for a couple/BFF costume, your partner/friend can dress as a black cat (a Halloween staple) with a collar that reads Snowball II.
And now one for the Halloween purists. If you don’t know when Halloween became less about ghosts and ghouls and more about pop culture, then this the costume for you. Most stores are selling skeleton costumes now, but if you’d like to make one yourself, all it’ll take is some black clothing, some white fabric paint, and a steady hand.
What did you think of these ideas? What will you be going as for Halloween?
What’s the most feminist/un-feminist costume you’ve ever seen? Let us know in the comments below!