Join Faith Newport and Erin Straza each week for Feminine Appeal, an e-discussion bringing a female perspective to the latest in cultural happenings and hubbub.
Erin: There are many things in this world that rile me, but one in particular is making me crazy right now: the raunchy Halloween costumes for women. What’s the deal with that?
Faith: I know, right? The most annoying thing for me might be the prices — they really expect us to pay $50 for two feet of chintzy fabric? Wait, on second thought, the most annoying thing is the way those costumes try to make everything sexy. Crayons should not be sexy! The world does not need a sexy Bert & Ernie, or a sexy honey badger, or a sexy Domo!
Erin:I think that’s what bothers me—the sexualization of it all. Are these costumes creative? Well, I guess a sexy crayon is something I’ve never seen before, so maybe that’s creative. But when it’s the same creative brush applied to every costume (Sexy maid! Sexy vampire! Sexy clown! Sexy angel!) it all looks the same, just a sea of scantily clad women. It’s like Halloween grants women a pass to be risqué in public.
Faith: I think it’s sad that “sexy” supposedly equals as little fabric as possible. Why can’t I be just as sexy when the skirt on my Marie Antoinette outfit is full-length instead of mid-thigh length? You can look like a knockout without worrying about how much is hanging out. I think too often we assume that sexiness has primarily to do with the clothes, rather than who’s wearing them and in what way.
Erin: Interesting! So sexiness has two components: what is seen and what is unseen. But what is seen has superseded what is unseen. The external component can be seen in a matter of seconds; but the internal component that is unseen takes time to know and explore. And that internal part is the most vulnerable part of who we are—perhaps that’s why it’s safer to enhance the external and downplay the internal? Then you don’t have to reveal your heart.
Faith: Funny how much our hearts can still get damaged because of the way someone reacts to the external, though. The catty comments other girls make. The liberties some guy took, or the honks and leers when you’re walking down the sidewalk. There’s still so much that can leave you feeling bruised.
Erin: So true. And that takes us back to the costumes. Really, costumes are all about gaining attention, and the costume choice will influence the type of attention given (stares, comments, or aggressive behavior). Let me be clear: Each person is responsible for his/her own actions, period. What a woman wears does not give another person the right to be rude or abusive—period. But what I choose sends a message for how I want to be seen and known. If I choose the sexy crayon costume, people will see me first (and maybe only) for my external sexuality. But that’s not the sum of who I am as a woman. I think our sexuality is inherent to how God made us—we should not be ashamed or hide it. But how we present it to others says a lot about how we see the fullness of our being as creatures made in the image of God.
Faith: Maybe the first step in presenting ourselves as women should be to stop for a moment and recognize that image within us before doing anything else. I think that there’s a real peace that can come from allowing yourself to realize that you are created with this very tangible connection to the Divine just in the way that you are—and, better yet, that God has declared that to be good—and then that peace informs our actions and choices. Even when it comes to small stuff like deciding what to wear to that upcoming costume party, it’s a whole lot easier to say, “No, that’s not for me” when you really know who you are.
Erin: So instead of raging against the Halloween Marketing Machine that’s pumping out bawdy costumes, a better approach would be helping women see they have Divine worth because they were made in God’s image? Good point. OK, I’ll stop ranting. (For now.)