The following is a guest blog post by Tess Koenigsmark. Tess is a recent graduate of the University of Connecticut, where she double majored in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Political Science. She was heavily involved in sexual assault prevention and reproductive justice activism and hopes to build on those experiences by pursuing a career in social justice.
Please note that views expressed by guest bloggers represent solely their own. CT NOW believes in open dialogue and multiple perspectives and welcomes (civilly worded) thoughts different from our own, but we do not necessarily endorse any writing done by the author here or elsewhere.
Halloween Costume Advertisement Ridicules Girls’ Ambitions
Every year around this time, I see a number of articles about sexy Halloween costumes. The light-hearted mock the absurdity of making everything sexy, and the more serious opine on the damaging gender expectations being forced down women’s throats in every costume shop across the country. Both make good points (how many sexy ladybugs can you really see before you start to lose it?), and I didn’t think it was necessary to rehash arguments made elsewhere.
BUT that was until I opened up the flyer from party supply store Party City that came tucked inside my local newspaper. And that’s where I saw this:
Here we have a woman in a sexy nurse costume posed next to two kids in doctor costumes, one girl and one child that could be either a boy or girl. Who thought this was a good idea? The flyer doesn’t have any text accompanying the images except for the costume names and titles, but if it did, it might read something like this:
Hey boys, want to be a doctor? Cool, go right ahead! Hey young girls, dream big! You can be doctors too! Oh wait, haha, actually just kidding. I mean, you knew that was just pretend, right? Once you hit puberty, you give up your dreams to become someone else’s wet dream!
The above image is actually from their website. As an added bonus, the shot in the flyer was a full-body picture of the costumes next to one another, which look like this, respectively:
I probably wouldn’t have given the advertisement a second thought if it weren’t for the interesting choice to group all the costumes by theme, with baby, child, and adult costumes all next to one another, instead of having separate sections for different age groups. The result is a little like watching a girl’s childhood die in fast motion. The costumes for young girls are cute and spunky, albeit unnecessarily gendered and pink-ified. Then, for the adolescent/teenage girl costumes, the hemlines rise and there’s a little more skin. And finally, the women’s costumes are full-blown cleavage and mini-skirts.
To be clear, I have nothing against sexy Halloween costumes. As long as there aren’t any children around, I could really care less if you show up to your next Halloween party as a nudist. However, there’s something wrong when being sexy starts to feel more like a demand than a choice. Not to mention, it’s hard enough for girls to break into the science and technology fields as it is, and stuff like this isn’t helping. Being a reasonable person, I think there’s room for compromise here. Party City can keep its sexy Halloween costumes (yes, even the ladybugs), so long as mocking young girls’ dreams isn’t part of the marketing strategy. Is that so much to ask?