Monday, November 7, 2011

costume miss hap...

I love Halloween.

I love the season it’s in, I love decorating the house, I love the costumes, I love the idea of playing dress up. We’re big dress up costume people year round in this house. If anyone ever needs a costume, for Halloween or otherwise, they usually call here first.

And chances are I have it, I can make it, or I can find it.
All I need is an idea…and I run with it.

My daughter a few years ago was going with a group of friends for trick or treat. They gathered at Chloes house for a tete-a-tete to figure out what indeed they would be. They poured over the most recent costume catalogs. “We can pick out whatever you want.” Chloe exclaimed, “my mom will buy them for us!”

My daughter, although enthralled with all the costumes, immediately replied, “My mother would never allow me to wear a store bought costume. Never.”

Smart girl.
And she's right.

It’s true. My thought is you can buy ‘things’ to make or go with the costume, props and such…but going to Target or Sears and picking something up? That uses no imagination. Isn’t that what Halloween costumes are about? Using your imagination?

There are several costumes that I’ve seen over the years that I thought were brilliant. Some are outstanding just because of the attention to detail in bringing a costume to life. Others are because of the wit behind the get up.

I remember one year having a party and Pete came with a head band that read “Go Pete!”. He was wearing medals around his neck and a jacket made of sponges. He carried a book around that he showed to everyone titled “All about Pete”. What was he? Why, the self absorbed man.


This past Halloween I went to a party and the host had the most elaborate costume with full duster coat, leather gloves, eel skin boots –with spurs mind you, AND a Stetson royal flush hat complete with playing cards tucked into the silver concho band. He had an intricate latex mask of a skull. What was he? Death.

Very cool. Well done, my friend. Kudos to Death.

Guys costumes are usually pretty straightforward. But I don’t understand the trend in the costumes that the girls are wearing. Not the little girls like my daughters age or her peers, but the adults. Going to an adult costume party does not mean that you need to buy your costume at Fredericks of Hollywood.

I was astounded by the amount of fishnet hose, corsets/ bustiers, platform stilettos and ruffled panties. Each outfit seemed to have at least 3 of the 4 and some went even further in pushing the envelope. I didn’t realize that the queen of hearts from Alice in Wonderland had such a low cut top that when bending over her breasts would fall out. Not to mention that her uber short skirt and sheer panties, her outfit pretty much left nothing to the imagination. And she was not a runway model by any means. She was quite the ample girl. I just didn’t get it.

And her friends? They all had that same slutty mindset. Alice in Wonderland - Same outfit…fishnets, stilettos, ruffled panties and major pushup bra throwing her boobs into our faces and drinks. A pirate'ess- again, more of the same but this time with boots that I didn’t even know came that high, or tops that low. Uh, matey...your nipple has fallen into my drink.

There were in attendance all the cliché costumes. The French maid, the pussy cat, the playboy bunny, the belly dancer, the nurse, the naughty schoolgirl, the sexy nanny, the police woman....the prostitute. Yup, they were all there.

Sure, there were a few of us that had on more traditional garb. In that I mean I donned a turtleneck to go with my black angel of death outfit. Or Brookes kitshky white sheet ghost costume. Even the Bride of Frankenstien, which was fabulous, didn't have to expose tons of flesh to look wonderful...and sexy.

As I stood there assessing the costumes that the women were wearing, I started to wonder. Why is it that Halloween, for women, has become a time to get your slut on? I don’t get it? It didn't always be this way. Just because it’s an ‘adult’ party does not mean that you need to dress like an ‘adult entertainer’. This was not the playboy mansion. Our host was not Hugh Hefner. And we were not at a club.

Hell, earlier in the day I was down at Edgewater Yacht Club for their annual kids ‘trunk or treat’. Some of the members get really into it and decorate their cars for the event. There are those that even get dressed up. But the lady parked next to us was dressed with long blond wig, fish net hose, short French maid outfit and heels…at 1:00 in the afternoon for a CHILDRENS costume party. Really? And honey…look at your drivers’ license. Your 62. AND perhaps 40 pounds too heavy for that outfit to begin with. Uhmmm. Can you say ‘Inappropriate’?

There was a documentary shown at the Sundance Film Festival this year that won awards. And for good reason. It was recently aired on the Oprah Network and has a Facebook page. I believe the director, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, has her finger on the pulse of what’s happening. This isn’t about Halloween and the lack of inspiration for appropriate costuming. It’s about the media and how young girls and men perceive themselves and what they feel is the norm, or expected.

When we are constantly barraged with sex, from every standpoint, it’s no wonder that the Queen of Hearts thought her outfit was fitting. Darlin', it was TOO fitting. Trust me.

The documentary is called Miss Representation. (see the trailer here) It’s fantastic.

“In a society where media is the most persuasive force shaping cultural norms, the collective message that our young women and men overwhelmingly receive is that a woman’s value and power lie in her youth, beauty, and sexuality, not in her capacity as a leader.”

Watching this film really got me to thinking about these girls dressed in their hooker outfits and what they really must think about themselves. I do believe that we, as women, are extremely influenced by media. The magazines, the catalogs, the movies. Who doesn’t want to look like a Victorias Secret model? But what is the cost?

When I was a manager at VS I found it amazing how men coming in the store would talk to us. Making sexual based comments when we would ask what they were in shopping for.

“You know, something to make my girl sexy…like you.” he said as he obviously checked me out from top to bottom.

Brushing the comment aside and trying to be polite and proffesional I asked, “is there a specific color or item you have interest in?”

“Red. Red is sexy. And slippery. I like slippery...Like silk or something.”

Alright, got it.
I steered him over towards the satin chemise’s. They are always a big seller at that price and I could add on other things to go with it depending on his input.

“What size do you think she is?”  I asked. Always a loaded question but one that you need to know to go forward. I’d almost cringe immediately after asking because you know that that's when they would look stare at you, stare at your breasts, hold out their hands like about to grab melons and say “About this big.” Or “Her tits are bigger/smaller/same as yours.”

Yeah. Amazing, huh? And a completely true story.

Many times after work the girls would go out for a drink before heading home. I loved the gals I worked with…still do! Our uniform was to wear a black suit. Didn’t matter if it was a skirt, or pants or what you wore or didn’t underneath it…just as long as it was a black suit. When we’d walk in an establishment it was pretty much known that we were the VS girls. It was like the girls in the Robert Palmer video “Addicted to Love”, heads would turn and the men would flock around us like WE were the supermodels. It was really weird.

I work for VS.
I am not in the catalog.
I am not your fantasy dream girl.

I do, however, own a lot of their lingerie…perk of the business. I am STILL after all these years pulling out of my drawers bras and panties that I bought that still have the tags on them. Thank goodness too since I like the old construction and material to the new one!

I’m a not a big womens libber or anything, but I was raised with the notion that there is nothing that I can not do…just because I’m a woman. I’ve lived by that statement my dad made to me at a very young age my whole life. I’m strong. I’m capable. I’m fierce.

I like to look good. I like to feel sexy.
But I am a very capable and smart woman too. I can’t, nor do I wish to, live any other way. I’m not going to be the one saying “Honey, I can’t get this…can you do it for me?” while batting my eyelashes and twirling my hair. Chances are that I’ll have figured out a way to accomplish my goal before I would even think about asking for help.

That being said, you can place a safe bet that it will not be me you find at a Halloween party displaying my goods. You want to see them? You’ve got to earn that right. Now granted, I’m not about to don an unattractive outfit, but I think one can look fabulous without all the low cut, up to there gear!

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” – Alice Walker.

So what is really up with the kinky, racy, naughty outfits?

Personally, I don’t think that wearing itsy bitsy costumes brings out anything fierce in a woman. It leaves precious little to the imagination and feminine mystic. I understand that Halloween costumes are a chance to don another persona for a short time, but is that to say that every womans other self is a whore? Say it isn’t so.

Halloween in America has become a 5 billion dollar industry. And the media drives it, so all those little outfits bought? It just feeds the machine that continues to demean. And women have bought into it. The costumes used to be bought for private role play and bedroom use…now it seems everyone has deemed them appropriate for public wear.

I took another glance around at those at the party. I shook my head and I vowed that if one more girl walked in the door with one of these get-ups on, I would have to spew my drink....
THAT would have been a horrible trick.

What are your thoughts?
As women? And as guys?
…enlighten me.



  1. You've definitely made a valid point.

  2. Victoria's Secret and Frederick's Of Hollywood and their ilk aren't even on my radar, or on my wife's radar. They are based on the objectification of women's bodies, which runs counter to everything women have been taught since the 1960s (as you pointed out). The logical dichotomy between so-called "women's liberation" and companies like Victoria's Secret is enormous. How do you do your work without your head exploding? ;-) That's like a pacifist serving in the Green Berets. Or a medic who is nauseated by the sight of blood.

    I wouldn't think of buying a woman such stuff, and I know very few women who wear it (the ones who do don't seem to be very happy in their love lives, I notice). To me, a woman in a t-shirt and jeans is just as sexy, or more so, than a woman done up in VS gear. "Sexy" is mostly attitude, not appearance. Women who think the reverse are disempowering themselves, in my humble opinion. Men are the ones who are driving women to think that VS gear = "sexy." And who cares what a man thinks? Do they think at all? ;-> (I'm an alien, so I am not part of the equation.)

    That's my two cents.

  3. I agree. The media has made people believe that sexy is strictly based on just surface, outward appearance. I agree with Marvin. Sexy is attitude. It is internal, not external. A man or a woman can be smoking hot in a t-shirt and jeans--and not have to look like a model.

    When did Halloween become whore-girls night out? The male costumes aren't all for half naked men? I really don't get it, either.

  4. I too love costuming--one year the family went to a Halloween party with my 3 girls as Grimms fairy tale princesses and I was the wicked step-mother. I loved those costumes! My sister has 3 children and when I had only one, we dressed the four of them as 4 aces (of course my daughter got to be hearts :-)) But I've definitely noticed the trend in sluttiness--my 14 year old has begged me the last two years for slut outfits out of catalogs because "that's what everyone wears!". Know how tired I get of saying, "you're not everyone"?--I wish my children had the insight your daughter to just know that I wouldn't allow it--mine have to try...and my daughter wasn't lying--children as young as 9 and 10 were wearing the fishnets and tight outfits! Very sad direction we're heading...

  5. That said, I do love VS--just not in front of the world :-)

  6. I had noticed the slutty costumes being sold to both women and little girls, but I didn't realize how many women were actually wearing them. You're exactly right, they are handing away their personal power. And that makes me mad, because my generation worked a long time for some of the rights and respect women now take for granted...or should. Great post.

  7. Great... I'm going to have to be the guy. :P

    I promise you that there is not a straight guy out there that is going to complain about a nice pair of boobs on display.

    That being said, I do see the woman's side to this. I wouldn't walk around with my balls hanging out, so I can imagine that a woman would feel the same way about her boobs.

    Also, you are correct about the whole Halloween thing. I remember going out trick-or-treating when I was younger, and you didn't see that sort of thing. You can definitely see a shift to the slutty outfits in the more recent years.

  8. amen to what you said. I don't understand why anyone would want to take the bedroom outdoors. But that's just me. I'm a little uptight about that sort of stuff.

    I think that it has gone too far.

    I took my son to the kindergarten Halloween party last week and most of the little girls were wearing either fishnets, body suits, corset-looking bodices, latex, or stripper makeup. Or a combination of two or more of these things. One mom came dressed as a playboy bunny. About 20 years and 20 pounds past her playboy prime.

    It's gross.

  9. @Marvin - I love it when you share your two cents. AND as you pointed out, it's one of the reasons that I no longer work for VS. :-)
    Thank you as always for sharing!

    @Rita - There was one guy at the party that was dressed as as flasher. WITH boxers, thank God. And I agree with both you and Marvin about sexy is attitude!

    @Jen - Your costumes sound fabulous! And I agree about the little kids with some of these costumes! A friend of mine blames it all on reality TV. And you know, she might be right!

    And I like VS as well.
    I'm just not going to show it to everyone either.

    @ Blissed out - I'm in full agreement with you. Did you happen to watch the trailer for the documentary? You'd love it. It's airing again I think on Nov 12th. You should tape it. I know I am!

    @ Mike - I just have to smile. KNEW it'd be YOU. :-)
    And I have to admit, I've not once, ever been to a party where a guy has his junk hanging out for a costume...

    @ Lora - It's a head scratching mystery for sure. I'm going to give a few the benefit of the doubt and think that perhaps they don't own mirrors? :-)


  10. I think there is shameful tendency in the USA to "overdo" and in the end, crassly commericalize to the point of destroying, the innocence and the refreshing joy that comes from that innocence, in every holiday - the ever marching forward of the opening day for Christmas shopping (Santa in the Mall in October?!) matches the early start of election year campaigning (those folks are too busy campaigning two years ahead of election time to actually do the job they are being paid for...

    I would love to see a return to letting children be children (and not taking French and violin lessons at age 2 or 3 and not playing organized soccer before they can practically walk let alone run....) and seeing them just PLAY with each other...

    As for the old folks that are like the sad over the hill Hollywood actresses - that don't understand a person is FAR more than their looks, it's almost a case of "well, its your loss, really" in my mind.

    Gets off the soap box... sorry... got carried away.

  11. I do believe the media reinforces this image of slut = confident, sexy woman. I don't believe in this but apparently that's what's cool. I went out with friends and there were so many slutty fairies, slutty witches, cats, Greek something-slutty, and the list goes on. I think the only one that was sort of OK and I couldn't classify as slutty was a girl as Cruise's Risky Business-shirt and undies scene. It surprisingly covered more than the fairies!

    On another note this year I did wear fishnet stockings but it's not what you think. My skirt was below my knees, it was a spiky hem and flouncy, a blouse that did not show anything and a nice long-sleeve blouse over that blouse (it was cold), oh and a witch hat. Yeah I was a witch :) Everything was black :D

    Hope you had a good Halloween and managed to keep most of the nipples out of your drinks ;D

  12. I thought of something last night! I know who you can blame! Either Morticia or Elvira Mistress of the Dark! Those are the first 2 that I remember as introducing "sexy" into Halloween, though I can't say that they were super slutty. Maybe?

  13. Hey - I admit, I like sex as much as the next person, but I don't think they should show so much on nighttime TV. Or the Halloween costumes for young kids - ridiculous! What IS this society coming to? I agree with you wholeheartedly on many of these issues.

  14. I soooo love dress up - still! I am getting ready to do Santacon - again. I haven't been a "HO" in many, many years... this year I'm a zombie sort of santa - hard to explain, but I'll be dragging 2 trust fund babies along with me - both being part of the 1% - its weird, I know, but this is NY.

  15. Looks like I'm late here to the party, but I didn't have a costume anyway...however you can guarantee I'd have made it myself and it would NOT have been cut down low or up to there! Great post, Nancy. My sentiments exactly!


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