By William Pryer
Pumpkin spice lattes, caramel apples, and frightfully scary decorations are all ingredients that make up the Halloween holiday. However, costumes are arguably the key ingredient to the perfect Halloween recipe. Every year, kids and often adults dress up in scary and ridiculous costumes with one clear mission: to get as much candy as possible.
Halloween costumes date back almost 2,000 years, when Pagans and Celtics would dress up in masks and costumes to prepare for the welcoming of “spirits.” However, it appears that Halloween costumes are perhaps no longer scary or terrifying, but are becoming sexualized — especially costumes worn by young women.
Obviously, people are free to dress up however they’d like for Halloween — that is part of the humor and novelty of the festival. But, there is an increasingly noticeable pressure for girls to dress up “slutty” for Halloween. Girls dressed up as sexualized cops, cats, and nurses are becoming the norm, supporting the famous “Mean Girls” quote: “Halloween is the one day a year when a girl can dress up like a total slut, and no other girls can say anything else about it.”
The freedom to wear whatever costume one pleases is not the issue; it is the pressure that young women are under to dress in an objectifying way that is the problem. In fact, I conducted an interview asking 20 males whether they preferred young women to dress scary or “slutty” on Halloween. 75 percent of the males asked admitted that they wanted young women to look sexy on Halloween. No wonder young women feel pressured during this holiday.
Hailey MacBride, a sophomore at MSUM, opposes that girls are under pressure.
“I want to dress sexy for Halloween because I want to,” she said. “For me and for nobody else.”
Halloween seems to have become another justification for society to compare young women based on how “slutty” or sexy they look, often resulting in many negative comments to those who are not dressed sexy, and slut-shaming those who are.
Junior Olivia Singleton commented on the issue.
“I know I myself have been called stupid and immature if I’d rather wear something scary or comical instead,” she said. “I think it’s disgusting that girls are objectified in this manner. It seems that Halloween is just another holiday where females are pressured into sexualizing themselves at the expense of their own dignity.”
Women should feel free to wear what they want without being judged, especially on the biggest costume holiday of the year. It is fundamental that people stop slut-shaming and judging one another during the Halloween holiday. If a girl looks “slutty” in your opinion, so what? Girls receive enough scrutiny for their choices in society. Why should their Halloween costume be another excuse for it?
It is clear that young women are receiving mixed messages. On one hand, they are pressured to dress sexy; the moment they do, they are slut-shamed. They are told one thing, and then another. Girls: do not seek permission from society to wear what you want this holiday. Seek permission from yourself.
Young women should feel free to exercise their freedom to choose whoever and whatever they want to be, whether that’s Snoopy or a sexy nurse. Once society as a whole stops using holidays like Halloween as an excuse to judge people, the true meaning of Halloween will be realized — the coming together of individuals as a community.