It’s Slutty Season! Why I’m Reclaiming Sexy Halloween Costumes and Why You Should Too

Sophie O’Boyle explains how wearing revealing, sexualised Halloween costumes should not be a degrading issue, but instead a celebration of femininity and our beautiful bodies.

Halloween is just around the corner, and we all know what that means: you will have to be wearing the coolest, most non-serious, high fashion, hilarious, sexy outfit that screams ‘I’m not like the other girls, I just threw this on and am here solely for the chocolate’ the moment your mate screams ‘selfie’ on October 31st.   

I doubt I’m the only one who feels the ‘cool girl’ standards crashing down on my feminist shoulders this time every year, when I have to ‘choose’ between sexy or funny, clever or silly, cute or tasteful for my Halloween costume. In my opinion, this conundrum makes for a much more expensive and socially demanding day than the other 364 of the year. Choosing a daily outfit that reflects your character, is  digestible to societal standards and includes trousers that won’t have chafed your thighs raw by the end of the day is hard enough. The constant battle of portraying the ‘perfect’ woman to society is as draining as it is a modern reality.   

Thus, when it comes to Halloween, it is tempting to attempt to crack this code of gendered self-expression. Yet what I think is unfortunately particular about this holiday is its rigid categories of ‘acceptable’ costumes, and how it attempts to define you as a woman. Firstly the ‘basic bitches’ dressed as angels and black cats. Then the ‘sexy girls’ dressed as nuns wearing stockings, or a vampire with, well, stockings. Next is the ‘ultra-hilarious, Georgia-from-Angus-Thongs-and-Perfect-Snogging olive-costume vibe’. And finally, the ‘vintage, mystical, high fashion baddie whose outfit cost 120 quid’. The fact is, I don’t think there’s really a winning option. The best thing you can do is pick one and run with it. Don’t be afraid to announce at the pres that it took you 4 hours scrolling through Pinterest to find an idea, or that you are dressed as a cowgirl because Kendall Jenner looked so ‘cool’ in it a few years ago. It is completely fine if you dressed up as Uma Wallace in Pulp Fiction because the lad you want to impress can’t BELIEVE you don’t know every line from all the  Tarantino films.  

Artwork by Susie Long

At the end of the day, you are owning the narrative and are looking hot as a result. It doesn’t make sense to argue that dressing as Shrek will make you Feminist Of The Year because of its lack of sex appeal, or that you are the worst feminist EVER for going as a playboy bunny because it satisfies the male gaze. Taking agency of yourself and your actions is feminist. The only way you can be considered a bad feminist is by making another girl feel bad for their choice, and society forces us to do this to ourselves anyway: the “basic” costume wearers will be jealous of the “sexy” ones for their daring attitude, the “sexy” dressers will feel uncreative and objectified, the “funny” girls won’t get the male attention they might have wanted and the “vintage cool” girls will probably wish they thought of something funnier. This is the exact ‘cat fighting’ and gendered jealousy that the patriarchy thrives off. The only remedy we have for this is to remember that no one can win the prize for ‘the most socially woke, hilarious, clever and sexy outfit of the year’ so we might as well appreciate one another’s shocking attempts at creativity and have FUN this year in whatever costume you choose.  

So for the girls like myself that struggle to feed into the ‘I don’t care about looking sexy, I’m just here for the lager’ narrative (don’t get me wrong, you are more than welcome to feel that way), and can’t deal with watching your own attempts to be the “cool girl” crash and burn again this year, I get you. It’s okay to want to dress ‘sexy’, to hate lager, and instead  sip on a pornstar martini whilst posing in your itchy Amazon-bought nun costume, completely failing the Bechdel test in the local Wetherspoons. That doesn’t make you a bad feminist, it makes you a very valid feminist who is tired of pretending she is “everything” by doing not very much at all.

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