A few weeks ago, I rented my Halloween costume.

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I approached a salesperson and said, “I was wondering if you have a Little Bo Peep costume.  But not a sexy one.”  She laughed and said no, she didn’t have a non-sexy Little Bo Peep costume.  If I wanted, however, I could buy this.


Meh.  No thanks. 


I went with a Cleopatra costume.  The dress comes down to my ankles.  The neckline is scooped and flattering.  The silhouette is loose and flowing.  Is it sexy?  Hell yes.  Will I be half-naked?  Heck no.


Every year, it seems like the women’s costumes (and girls’ costumes – but that’s another blog post entirely) get sexier and sexier.  I don’t want to use the term ‘slutty’ to describe these outfits because it confers that the wearer of the outfit is sexually loose because of how she dresses, which is not necessarily true.  So we’ll call them ‘sexy’ costumes, but I want to start off this post by stating that I don’t think the only way to be sexy is to be half-naked.  Because it’s not.

Sexy costumes and I have a long, storied history, starting with… freshman year of college.  Of course.  I was ‘that girl.’  My best friend was actually a Hooters waitress over the summer, so I borrowed one of her work uniforms for my costume.  It was, obviously, very sexy and very revealing and (actually) a really good costume because it was so authentic.  It was also freezing because it was October 31 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The next year, I was a ‘sexy’ schoolgirl – short skirt, tummy bared.  And that was the end of my sexy costume experience.  The following year, I was a football player. 


Why did I dress sexy for Halloween?  A decade later, I’m not sure.  I would say that it had a lot to do with becoming ‘an adult’ and getting to make my own decisions without parental approval.  It also had something to do with the culture I was involved with (namely, the college drinking scene).  Women were expected to dress sexy.  Intricate or funny costumes weren’t valued.  Mostly, I did it because everyone else it. 


A few years ago, I started to go on an anti-sexy Halloween costume kick.  I wanted to wear ‘real’ costumes – costumes that involved a lot of planning, a funny pun, a pop culture reference, or – at the very least – a sweet rental outfit. 


Sometimes, my costumes were hot, but they weren’t the skimpy costumes of my college days (remember, you can be hot without being half-naked).  And year after year, I rolled my eyes at the rows and rows of ‘sexy’ costumes for sale.  I wondered how the hell costume makers came up with gems like…


Sexy Orange and Lime Wedges  (No. Seriously. What the heck?)


Sexy Tootsie Roll (“What are you going to be for Halloween?” “Oh, a sexy piece of candy!”)


Sexy Honey Badger (I don’t even know what to say.)


Sexy Magical Unicorn (Since when do unicorns wear leotards?)


Sorry if I just insulted anyone’s costume. Winking smile


Why was I so anti-sexy?  Well, this Jezebel article sums up my feelings quite nicely:


Remember as a girl when you planned your costume for weeks? When you couldn’t wait to show it off at school? When the best part of the night was sorting your loot into piles and pigging out on your favorites? Try and bring a little bit of that magic back this year. The whistles and stares are a lot like the candy we feast on: full of sugar but little substance. This Halloween, try dressing for yourself, not for the crowds.


But then, this morning, I was listening to Dan Savage’s most recent Podcast, and he tackled the topic of sexy Halloween costumes (FYI, Dan is a gay blogger, which I feel is an important part of this story – this isn’t a horny heterosexual man advocating for women to dress sexy).  He argued – and I’m paraphrasing, so I hope I get the gist right:


"Please pull the sticks out of your asses about Halloween… Every year, when Halloween rolls around, everyone complains about the sexy thing."  Dan noted that our society puts tremendous pressure on us all to conform to what is ‘normal,’ especially in regards to our sexuality.  And he says that Halloween is basically a straight person’s gay pride parade – a chance to let loose and relax in public, to act out our desires.   Women are not oppressed because of the sexy costume industry – it’s a chance for them to explore.  Men don’t have similar sexual costumes because that’s’ just not the way that attraction works.  Men are turned on by seeing lots of female skin; women don’t necessarily have the same reaction.  We should accept that this is fine – “Halloween is a sexy, sexy celebration of heterosexual lust and desire.” Can we please stop shitting on people who want to dress sexy on Halloween?  It makes us look like hypocrites.


Dan’s argument almost got me.  In fact, now I’m waffling on whether there is something ‘wrong’ with sexy costumes at all, especially from a feminist standpoint.  I still do think that sexy costumes are kind of – honestly – lame (and I can say that because I used to wear them).  They aren’t good costumes; they won’t win any contests.  They aren’t memorable for any other reason beyond the fact that they show a lot of flesh.  But if it makes your bedroom activities more exciting and fun – well, I guess I can’t complain about that. 


And like so many things, perhaps whether the sexy costumes are ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ has more to do with the mindset of the woman wearing them.  If she wears a Sexy Magical Unicorn costume because she feels like that’s the only way to be worthy on Halloween (perhaps like I did in college), maybe that’s not so great.  But if she wears a sexy get-up to snag a guy and have a sweet Sexy Magical Unicorn make-out session on the dance floor… well, more power to her. 

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So – what do you think?  Sexy Halloween or not-so-much?  Or what about a sexy costume that isn’t quite so revealing?  Is Halloween about sexuality or are these revealing costumes just a meaningless display of flesh?  Annnnnd… debate.



  • Cara @ I Don't Believe in Diets October 23, 2012, 12:31 pm

    This is such a great article exploring it. It makes me want to stop giving the eye roll to the sexy costumes but I am still not a fan of doing it myself. Most of the sexy costumes are so boring. If they could be clever I would definitely respect it more.

  • Katie @ Talk Less, Say More October 23, 2012, 12:42 pm

    I enjoyed Halloween as a kid but as soon as I started to get older and especially in college where it was all about sexy costumes, I completely lost interest. In fact, I became more ANTI-Halloween than anything. I hated my college roommates trying to “sexy” up my costume because it wasn’t revealing enough or telling me to pull down my tank top so that at least my bra was showing. That’s not me – not on a daily basis and still not on Halloween.

  • Alyssa October 23, 2012, 12:43 pm

    “But if she wears a sexy get-up to snag a guy and have a sweet Sexy Magical Unicorn make-out session on the dance floor… well, more power to her.”

    Amen! You hit the nail on the head with this one.

    I’m all about the Sexy Magical Unicorn make-out, BTW.

  • Lauren Jamison @ The Barn October 23, 2012, 12:46 pm

    I can understand Dan’s point, but at the same time the reason behind Halloween isn’t exploring our lusts and desire, but then again it’s also not really about wearing silly costumes either, so I’m not sure it really matters. I feel like, as with most holidays now, Halloween is just one more opportunity for people to get trashed and revel in a night of debauchery.

    • Laura October 24, 2012, 1:04 am

      Serious question: what IS the point of Halloween? It’s pretty much a non-event in New Zealand, and it doesn’t seem to be a huge deal anywhere but America. IS there actually a point to it beyond dressing up and asking for free lollies?

      • Laura October 24, 2012, 10:38 am

        Originally when it was a holiday for the ancient Celts, it was to celebrate your dead ancestors; many modern Pagans traditionally celebrate it this way. In other cultures today (Mexico, for instance), it’s called Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), and it’s about “whistling in a graveyard” and making death into a fun, festival-like thing. In America it’s a lot of things for a lot of different people–for kids it’s a chance to dress up, be mischievous, be scared but in a safe way, get lots of candy. Some people are convinced Hallowe’en is evil and they won’t let their kids participate, and they’ll organize church events and parties without scares but with candy. And others (like this post delves into) use Hallowe’en as an excuse to dress up as an aspect of themselves that’s usually hidden (whether that is creative, “sexy”, or both). No wonder you’re confused–it’s a lot of things to a lot of people!

  • Juli D. October 23, 2012, 12:53 pm

    Do what makes you happy and stop judging other people. Give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they’re dressing the way they are because it makes them happy. It’s really that simple.

    • Allison October 23, 2012, 2:13 pm

      Amen sister.

      • Casey October 23, 2012, 2:58 pm

        Completely agree!

    • Jessica October 23, 2012, 2:41 pm

      This. My thoughts reading about this was that I truly don’t care one way or the other. I personally wouldn’t wear a costume that was extremely skimpy…I’m just shy and modest. But whatever anyone else wants to do is up to them and I’m not interested in judging them or pondering Why they wore it.

    • Kristy @ Kristy's Health Revolution October 23, 2012, 3:32 pm


      • MelissaH October 24, 2012, 8:37 am

        Totally agree. At best this entire thing is slut-shaming. At worst, victim-blaming.

        • Maureen October 24, 2012, 10:54 am

          I couldn’t agree more!!

  • Liz @ An Interesting Year October 23, 2012, 12:53 pm

    I wore “sexier” (but never anything like those outfits you posted) costumes in college and now cringe a little when I think about them. Now, I try to look a little “cute” (but honestly, I like looking cute every day!) but definitely don’t wear sexy costumes, and groan about people who do. I think Dan’s column makes a lot of sense, but I just wish people owned it more — if a girl wants to wear those costumes you posted, fine, but don’t try to insist on the integrity/authenticity of the costume…if you want to dress sexy, own it! Don’t try to insist you genuinely care about dressing like a Tootsie Roll.

  • Megan@ The Running Doc October 23, 2012, 12:56 pm

    I’ll admit that I totally roll my eyes every time I see a girl wearing one of the “sexy” halloween costumes, but as a female who is typically pretty darn conservative when it comes to my wardrobe I can see the appeal of choosing a slightly revealing Halloween costume. It’s the one time each year you can wear as much or as little clothing as you want without caring about what anyone else thinks about it. Halloween is the one day where it is entirely acceptable for grown women (and men) to pretend to be someone they’re not or to pretend to be someone you secretly always wanted to be. So I say more power to the girls in the “sexy” costumes, have a little fun seeing what it’s like having every dude stare you down. 🙂

  • Katie @ Peace Love & Oats October 23, 2012, 12:58 pm

    that’s really an interesting point! I don’t mind other people wearing the sexy costumes but I don’t because it’s soooo not me. I’d feel so uncomfortable in one of those things! Maybe something sliiiightly longer… haha.

  • Karen @ Runner Girl Eats October 23, 2012, 1:05 pm

    Over the years I have been everything from a sexy cop to Steven Tyler. Over the years I’ve definitely started caring more about having a creative costume than sexy. I can’t imagine leaving my house in the sexy French maid costume of 2009 but the minute I hear people bashing ‘sexy’ costumes, the feminist in me comes out and I think a girl should wear whatever makes her happy, scantily clad or fully clothed. Halloween is a silly holiday centered around costumes and candy so I really dont care if a girl wants to be big foot or a sexy nun. As long as I have my candy 🙂

  • Cecily October 23, 2012, 1:07 pm

    As a current college sophomore, I feel compelled to give my opinion on this. At the party scence last weekend, I saw more skin than I did fabric. To me, this is one last hurrah of showing skin before winter sets in. Whether the girls want the [often negative] attention or not is their perrogative.

    I myselft was a lifeguard. Sexy yes, revealing, no. I wore a legit lifeguard suit with a fanny pack, sunglasses, and shorts. I thought it was a funny idea, so I went for it. Was I attempting to get a ton of attention? No. Case in point, you can still look cute/sexy without seeking attention or looking “slutty.” 🙂

  • Christine October 23, 2012, 1:08 pm

    After reading this post, I see both sides of the argument. However, my complaint would be this: it’s so hard for me to find a Halloween costume that isn’t sexy. It seems like the majority of them are sexy and there’s very little choice for “normal” Halloween costumes.

    • Beks October 23, 2012, 1:33 pm

      Agreed. I wanted to be Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz last year, but the only costume in my size was the sexy one. I’m a bigger girl, and am not that comfortable showing off my body. I think there should be equal numbers of sexy and conservative to fit all tastes. Or, maybe there were, and I was just too late to get my costume?

      • Vikki October 23, 2012, 3:32 pm

        This is why I learned to sew. Sigh….

      • Kristy @ Kristy's Health Revolution October 23, 2012, 3:36 pm

        What about making your costume? It wouldn’t be too hard to find a blue checked dress, white collared shirt and glue glitter to some old shoes. I think the main problem with the “sexy” costumes are that they are typically pre-made costumes that require no thought or originality. I always try to put together my costume myself, and honestly, if your costume is home-made or really original, I’m not going to care about how much skin is showing!

  • Emily A October 23, 2012, 1:10 pm

    I went the sexy route in college, even wore an old, real ballet tutu costume to a bar once. But this year I went as a sweepstake winner with a full flannel robe, curlers, giant check w/balloons and every ince of my body covered for an outdoor party in Pgh, PA. I found it very interesting that every girl in a tight, short skirt told me how jealous they were of my costume because I looked warm and comfy. I joked it’s what happens when you’re a newly wed like myself, but I really think there is some truth to that! My husband and I had more fun laughing at how ridiculous I looked, than had I had gone for a “sexier” costume.

    Also to note, all the girls wearing “sexy” costumes were single, and all the girls married/dating had on more modest ones! Great topic!

  • Christina October 23, 2012, 1:11 pm

    I think that women need to dress to make themselves happy, not to conform or for someone else. I don’t care for the skimpy costumes myself. I live in Minnesota, the average temperature on Halloween night here is around 40 degrees. I refuse to suffer in the cold for a costume, and it’s hard for me to understand how someone else could.

    We actually had one of our most memorable blizzards ever here on Halloween night in 1991. I remember my grandpa carrying me through the snow so my feet wouldn’t get wet. I also remember leaving a college Halloween party that my boyfriend (now husband) was staying at. I had to leave early because I worked in the morning. I will never forget that as I was leaving 2 girls dressed up as Victoria’s Secret angels came walking in. They were literally in their underwear. I remember being pretty shocked.

    • Jen F October 24, 2012, 11:27 am

      I agree with Christina and Beks. I don’t think the problem is that sexy costumes exist. I think a huge problem is that they are an overwhelming majority of what’s on the market. If people want to dress sexy, they absolutely can. But if we don’t want to dress sexy, why do we have to learn to sew our own costumes? (and this is coming from someone who can and does sew.) It would be nice to have the ease to run to a party store and pick up something quickly that isn’t overly revealing. But there aren’t a lot of options. I think the main problem is options.

  • Megan October 23, 2012, 1:15 pm

    I have not dressed up for Halloween since I was probably in MS. I HONESTLY DO NOT GET why adults are sooo into a (typically) kids holiday. It’s weird to me.

    And I don’t feel like women should ever be that revealing, except in their own home with their own spouse. You can be alluring and wanted without showing skin and being lusted after.

    • Kristy @ Kristy's Health Revolution October 23, 2012, 3:40 pm

      Because Halloween is fun. Some people like it because they HAVE kids and it’s a fun holiday for them. I don’t, but I love dressing up and decorating to hand out candy to kids. It’s fun! Dressing up in a costume is fun. Going to Halloween parties is fun. Watching scary movies is fun.

      I feel like your comment about “women shouldn’t ever be that revealing except in their homes with their husbands” is very sexist. Why? Why is it the WOMANS responsibility to control a man’s lustfulness? That line of thinking is dangerous and a serious part of rape culture.

      • Stephanie C October 23, 2012, 8:33 pm

        *Clap* amen.

      • megan October 23, 2012, 11:21 pm

        Not part of a rape culture. i think i wasn’t clear in my comment (a problem with typing on my phone). But tell me…how can a woman dress to be showing off her boobs and not expect a man to think about her in a sexual way? that is what lust is….

        • Marcy October 24, 2012, 9:18 am

          So it’s wrong for women to be desired by men except in their own homes with their own spouse? I just don’t see what’s wrong with women being thought of in a sexual way. I personally kind of roll my eyes at costumes that seem to equate “sexy/sexual” with “scanty” or “lack of fabric,” but you know, I don’t think wearing them is something that should never be done, morally, as your comment seemed to imply. Being thought of in a sexual way isn’t something shameful, or wrong, and shouldn’t be considered a legitimate catalyst for any “uncontrollable” behavior on the part of men or women.

        • RunnerGirl October 24, 2012, 10:24 am


          I understood where your comment was coming from. And I don’t find wanting to keep your sexuality for your spouse and your spouse only sexist in any way.

          While it’s certainly not a woman’s responsibility to keep other men’s lustfulness in check, I do feel like dressing incredibly skimpy invites it. Sex and lust is human nature and isn’t shameful, but coming from a married woman’s standpoint, why would I want to provoke those feelings in any man that wasn’t my husband?

          I think that’s kind of where Megan was going with her statements.

          • Maureen October 24, 2012, 10:58 am

            And coming from a married woman I find your comment about “inviting” unwanted lustfulness from a man simply because of the way you are dressing to be absolutely TERRIFYING!! Talk about victim blaming!

          • Caitlin October 24, 2012, 11:44 am


          • Christena October 24, 2012, 6:40 pm

            But, honestly, isn’t the purpose of dressing overtly “sexy” to get attention from men? (Or women, or both, whatever?) To invite lust?

            Nothing wrong with a woman dressing sexy to get attention from men. And physical attraction (lust when a man sees a woman in sexy attire) is completely natural, an expected response. A woman is not responsible for the man’s thoughts or actions, obviously. By dressing sexy she is NOT inviting him to try to pick her up, touch her, talk to her, rape her, blah, blah. But I also don’t think it is “victim blaming” to say that a woman dressing intentionally, overtly sexy is inviting lust! That’s the point!!!

          • Caitlin October 24, 2012, 7:25 pm

            Good comment!

      • Jessi @ doctorate housewife October 24, 2012, 4:05 pm

        I’m with you. It’s because it’s fun to dress up, it’s fun to let loose, and it’s fun to have candy. Really it’s all about the candy… and the pumpkins. Ok, the candy and the pumpkins… and the creative costumes. Ok, the candy and the pumpkins, and the creative costumes. Just go with it =)

  • Katherina October 23, 2012, 1:16 pm

    wow. I feel like your looking into it too much.
    I like to dress sexy because I AM SEXY! I like to show off all my hard work in the gym, my great legs, and yes, my fabulous ass. I don’t see it as anything more OR less than what it simply is.
    Now a days, whenever a woman is dressed a certain way (sexy or not) it’s always questioned.
    I think it’s time to let the “why” stand alone and just do your thang.

  • Kendra @ My Full-Thyme Life October 23, 2012, 1:17 pm

    I totally agree that if a woman wants to wear the ‘sexy’ costume then more power to her. I’ve done the sexy thing too and it was fun but now that I’m older I don’t really want to put myself all out there. I agree that you can still be sexy without showing tons of skin. Now, if we asked my darling husband his take on this debate, I know what his answer would be! 😉

  • Courtney Leigh October 23, 2012, 1:21 pm

    I’m down with the sexy Halloween costumes. I usually create my own with my own clothes, trips to the thrift store, a hot glue gun and if pressed a sewing machine. I think it’s super fun, but I don’t feel pressured to be in a sexy costume. I’ve also done some decidedly un-sexy costumes that have been some of my favorites.

    BUT – I will admit that sometimes the sexing up of everything does make me roll my eyes. The honey badger above for example. Is it really sexy? Or is it just scanty? One does not always equal the other in my opinion and I think that’s why I get annoyed. You want to be a honey badger for Halloween, awesome! Go for it! But if you really wanted to be a honey badger, you wouldn’t worry about being a sexy one.

    Halloween should be about letting loose and having some fun, whether it’s sexy fun, creative fun or both!

    In a related note, does anyone remember the Molly Shannon SNL skit where every Halloween her character would plan a decidedly un-sexy group costume and then show up in a different sexy outfit? Her “sexy kitty cat” inspired probably my first sexy Halloween costume. And I WISH I could find a clip of it. So funny.

    • Kristy @ Kristy's Health Revolution October 23, 2012, 3:43 pm

      Yes, I love this comment! I’m not against those costumes up there because they are “sexy” — it’s because they are unoriginal. I love that you make your own costumes! I might not always “make” mine, but lots of thought and a TON of thrifting, if not a ton of makeup/hair prep is usually involved. To me, that’s what Halloween is all about.

      • jessika October 24, 2012, 11:22 am

        Agreed. the majority of the “sexy” costumes are just unoriginal. Being sexy is fine, but just being SEXY for halloween is kinda lame. Though if I saw “sexy troll” I might be impressed.

  • Abbey October 23, 2012, 1:24 pm

    Here’s what I think on the sexy Halloween costumes: if you want to, whatever. But. I respect your sexy costume much more (meaning, I respect it at all) if it’s homemade. When I was an RA in the dorms, a girl was a BA sexy gnome. It showed a lot of skin, but it was creative and homemade and I loved it. I also resent the lack of costume options for women that aren’t revealing.

  • Jennie October 23, 2012, 1:25 pm

    I always felt like an idiot wearing “sexy” costumes. I guess I never even really did except for my fishnet cowgirl getup one year. Personally, I think the more creativity you put into a costume the better.

  • stephanie October 23, 2012, 1:26 pm

    I say wear what you want to wear if you love it!

    Also, there is a sexy Big Bird costume this year in my area that is completely sold out. I’m not into the sexy costumes for myself but that is one that would be fun to wear!

  • mischa October 23, 2012, 1:28 pm

    How would you feel about little Henry in high school surrounded by girls who are barely dressed? I have a daughter who is two months older than Henry and I can’t imagine her in a “sexy” outfit. Actually I know she won’t because I never did. I plan to instill a strong sense of self-respect and worth within my daughter. She will be better than that.

    • Allie October 23, 2012, 2:09 pm

      I don’t believe that showing skin automatically means you have low self-worth (or vice versa). Our society tends to negatively associate women who show skin with having little respect for themselves, but everyone has a different mindset, and I don’t think we should lump everyone who dresses a certain way into one homogenized group.

      Women have every right to be as sexual as they want and shouldn’t be made to feel bad about themselves (or judge others that are). We’re all different and that’s cool! Just my two cent ;).

      • Katie @ Soulshine and Sassafras October 23, 2012, 2:52 pm

        Completely agree.

      • CPB October 31, 2012, 2:34 pm

        I think the assumption of low self worth stems from the attention seeking and desperate desire for male approval that accompanies a sexualized costume.

    • Katie Hamilton October 23, 2012, 2:15 pm

      I think you can have a strong sense of self-respect and worth and still wear “sexy” Halloween costumes! Maybe your daughter will be so proud of the way she looks because she lost a significant amount of weight or really toned her leg muscles… or so proud of her creative but revealing costume that she’ll be dying to sport it. What’s more important is why someone is wearing what they are, not what they are wearing!

      • MrsCourtneyP October 24, 2012, 10:35 am

        I totally agree! Just because you show skin doesn’t mean that you’re “easy” or “slutty”. It’s just the negative connotation that comes with dressing as a sexy honey badger. Is it a fair stereotype? No. But I totally understand why people associate showing the goods in a skimpy Halloween costume with being trashy. It’s just a matter of whether or not you care what other people may or may not be assuming about you.

        I personally have never gone the “sexy” anything route when it comes to Halloween costumes. The closet thing I ever did was a “cute” black cat and I was wearing leggings and a modest tank top. Dressing overtly sexy just isn’t for me. I don’t feel comfortable doing it, but I never make any judgements on women who do choose to do it. It’s Halloween. It’s pretend. It’s fun.

        My biggest beef with the whole thing is that it’s really hard to find a good store-bought costume that ISN’T along the lines of “Sexy (insert character here)”. THAT is what’s annoying. Just like there’s a myriad of choices for women who do want to show skin on Halloween, there should be a myriad of choices for women who DON’T want to show skin.

        • CPB October 31, 2012, 2:40 pm

          This strikes me as part of the problem. The pornification of Halloween has really taken all of the fun out of it for me. Personally, I’m bothered by the ‘sexy’ bs costumes because it really feels like the purveyors are perpetuating the objectification of women. Dehumanizing women by reducing us to nothing but sex objects and such. It’s bad enough with the media, but did they have to poison my favorite holiday as well? What about that is so hard for some people to understand? Cue the comments about just “get over it already”…….

    • Maureen October 24, 2012, 11:03 am

      I find it very hard to imagine that you can make a statement that you know she will not do something when she is NOT EVEN 1 year old. Good for you for trying to instill a strong sense of self worth in your daughter, and for maybe hoping she won’t dress a certain way because of your preconceived notions and attitudes about a certain “type” of costume………but SERIOUSLY?!? You absolutely cannot sit there and say for certainty that your daughter will or will not do something in the future, if she is proud of her body when she is older and wants to dress a certain way then more power to her.

  • CMD October 23, 2012, 1:37 pm

    I think the most ridiculous thing about all the slutty (you don’t have to say it, but I will!) costumes are that a lot of them are sexualizing things that ARE NOT SEXY! Like, a schoolgirl. Uh, really?! Or, a unicorn. No sense.

    • Jessica October 23, 2012, 1:45 pm

      I agree- why does EVERYTHING have to be turned into a “sexy” costume- I mean, does there really have to be a “sexy” little bo peep- really??!! A “sexy” banana- come on!! That’s another issue I have with the “sexy” costumes.

  • Marissa C October 23, 2012, 1:40 pm

    The sexy honey badger costume is kind of awesome.

    • Catherine October 23, 2012, 1:49 pm

      LOL I thought the same thing!

      • Aerevyn October 23, 2012, 2:35 pm

        Right. When will you see the phrase “sexy honey badger” again, baring some Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom programming? Hil. ar. i. ous.

  • Annette@FitnessPerks October 23, 2012, 1:42 pm

    I don’t love Halloween for that reason-I think it’s lame for people to have an ‘excuse’ to show off skin and to reveal what they normally wouldn’t. In college it totally baffled me that young ladies who wouldn’t normally wear those type of things would do that, and then get stuck in situations they didn’t normally agree to.

    I think it’s actually quite sad, and those things (revealing skin, etc.) should be reserved for your special someone. That’s how I feel. And people wonder why there so many issues in our country, and women want to know why they’re not always ‘handled correctly? Umm yah.

    • Emily @ Perfection Isn't Happy October 23, 2012, 2:25 pm

      I agree, Annette :). Glad I’m not alone.

    • Kristy @ Kristy's Health Revolution October 23, 2012, 3:47 pm

      I HATE IT that people think it should be the responsibility of a woman to dress a certain way to control bad behavior from men. Why can’t men just control their own bad behavior? Why is it a woman’s responsibility. There is a deeper issue here and it’s about victim-blaming and rape culture and I don’t like it. We can dislike the sexualization of Halloween costumes, but not because it makes it easier for men to be less creepy. Come on.

      • meagan October 23, 2012, 6:26 pm

        I agree, Kristy. When I was in a certain denomination of Christianity they always put the responsibility on the *woman* for the man lusting. Seriously, it was disgusting.

        • Stephanie C October 23, 2012, 8:36 pm

          Yep – I went to an extremely conservative college for undergrad and the women weren’t allowed to wear halter tops, tube tops OR bikinis, but the men were allowed to take their shirts off while playing basketball or swimming.

          • CPB October 31, 2012, 2:43 pm

            Agree, but, just to play devil’s advocate…..men don’t have secondary sex characteristics located on their chest.

        • Crystal October 23, 2012, 10:13 pm

          Yay for slut shaming and victim blaming! Poor men can’t keep it in their pants if women dress “slutty”.

    • Allie October 23, 2012, 10:09 pm

      Annette, I really like you and follow your blog regularly, but it’s sad to me that people believe women get “stuck in situations” because of how they are dressed. Even if someone is naked, passed out, drunk, that doesn’t give ANYONE the right to do ANYTHING to them.

      • megan October 23, 2012, 11:25 pm

        Lustful thoughts and lustful actions are all still acts of lust…

        • Forrest April 8, 2013, 12:02 pm

          But you still haven’t proved why that’s on the woman to prevent men from feeling lustful and not the man to control his feelings and not feel lustful.

      • Laura October 24, 2012, 1:09 am

        Exactly. Everybody owns their own body. You have the right to do anything you like to your own body; you have NO right to do anything to someone else’s body without their permission, regardless of how they choose to clothe or display their own.

    • Allison October 23, 2012, 10:52 pm

      I am so saddened to read that you have the opinion that women who wear revealing clothing are asking for something bad to happen to them. I think you should know how incredibly hurtful and close minded that is. Victims of sexual assault feel enough shame and embarrassment without having people like you saying that they were asking for it because of what they were wearing. No matter what someone is wearing no one has the right to take advantage of them. I hope you seriously reconsider you opinion on this matter and choose to support you fellow woman instead of passing judgement.

    • Maureen October 24, 2012, 11:05 am

      Right, so because as a grown adult I choose to dress a certain way I need to be responsible for the behavior of all other grown adult men. Give me a break. And you wonder why rape victims are scared to report their attacks, it’s because of frightening statements and stereotypes like this.

      • Megan October 25, 2012, 10:05 pm

        I am not following this thread of comments very well.

        I would NEVER blame a woman for being raped because of how she was dressed. But because of my religious beliefs I do not want to be dressing in a way that would cause a man to look at me lustfully. That is not how sex and sexual desires were intended. But just because a woman is dressed like that does not make sexual assualt okay. Ever. Period.

  • Jessica October 23, 2012, 1:43 pm

    First off- since when are leotards in general sexy???!! I agree with most of the commenters here. I don’t like all the “sexy” costumes, but that’s because I don’t see the point in paying $50 + for a skimpy outfit I’ll only wear once and it’s hard to find a “normal” costume. At the same time, if someone else wants to wear one of those costumes, go for it. But I also don’t think most women/girls are wearing those “sexy” costumes b/c they’re acting out their desires or that the costume is giving them a chance to explore. I’m sure that some of them are, but I think, particularly for the college aged girls, that most of them are wearing those costumes b/c they feel they should dress “sexy”. I was one of them at some point as well, so this is how I felt.

    • CPB October 31, 2012, 2:47 pm

      Exactly. There is pressure to conform to the social construct that labels women as sex objects nothing more nothing less. The fact that there is far less variety among costumes and that ‘sexy’ is the near exclusive norm by vendors and consumers should be a red flag.

  • Susan October 23, 2012, 1:46 pm

    Have you seen the worst – sexy body bag? http://thebloggess.com/2012/10/skanky-ween/

    I think my priority is creative over sexy. I kind of like the idea of sexy but it has to have a reason that makes sense. Most of the costumes are ridiculous.

  • Catherine October 23, 2012, 1:48 pm

    I also had trouble finding a not-so-revealing costume this year. I usually had no problem showing a little skin as long as I liked the costume, but I’m someone’s mama this year. I wasn’t sure how appropriate I’d feel carrying my 4-month-old while dressed in a costume like that. Plus, one day I want to show her pictures of her first Halloween without being embarrassed.

    I previously had no problem with it, probably because I live walking distance to the beach (in Florida), so I’m used to seeing people stroll around in swimsuits all summer. To me, Halloween is just an extension of summer near-nakedness before it cools down and everyone starts wearing actual clothes. I do have a major problem with sexy kids costumes. But like you said, that’s an entirely different subject.

  • Anne October 23, 2012, 1:51 pm

    I hate Halloween, never loved it as an adult. Hate to dress up… and yes, always thought it was the opportunity for men to look douch and women to look sl*t… I assume the judgment.

  • Rebecca @ Blueberry Smiles October 23, 2012, 1:56 pm

    Honestly, I never thought I’d STILL be dressing up for Halloween…as a kid, I always thought adults just didn’t do that (though no complaints, I still have fun with it). Whatever makes people happy is fine with me, but I agree that there aren’t very many non-sexy costumes to choose from for women (and there should be more!).

  • Cindy October 23, 2012, 2:01 pm

    I think if I had a better body and thought I could pull it off, I probably would dress in a sexy costume. I’ve never done it because I’ve never had the right type of body. I usually use Halloween to cosplay as Rose from Doctor Who (and not get laughed at for it) if I am going out. Now that I’m older (and not living in the US) it seems to have lost its charm for me.

    If someone wants to dress sexy I have no problem with that. I do find many of these costumes in bad taste and tacky, mostly.

    • Catherine October 23, 2012, 5:16 pm

      If you want to dress in a sexy costume, do it! No such thing as a “right” type of body.

    • DadHTP October 23, 2012, 9:15 pm

      oh, now I’ll dream of Rose Tyler tonight…thanks!

  • Margaret October 23, 2012, 2:09 pm

    This isn’t exactly answering the question you asked, but what I take issue with is the commercialization – I’m not sure that’s exactly the word I want, I don’t mean exactly the same way that people would say that about, say, Christmas, where people might want to focus on the religious or spiritual aspects and be bombarded by messages about stuff.

    But I think costumes (and Halloween in general) should be about having fun, which to me requires doing more than walking into a store and picking out a ready made costume in your size. Like a comment above where someone was disappointed they could only find a sexy Dorothy costume – ummm, how hard is it to go to a thrift store and buy a white blouse, blue dress, and red shoes? If you don’t want to buy a sexy costume, then make you own costume! Or even if you do want a sexy costume, still put together the outfit yourself. Show some creativity and fun.

  • Lekki Wood October 23, 2012, 2:11 pm

    Oooh, great post. Coming from the UK, this whole ‘sexy Halloween’ thing totally baffled me. Especially as I was criticized for wearing tank tops to the office as being too distracting for the men-folk (I was in Alabama), and having shoes that were stripper shoes (very high, and black and shiny… totally normal for London) then come Halloween the place went crazy with ‘yee ha, we can dress *extremely* provocatively. Certainly the mix of conservatism and randomly “sanctioned” sexiness was very, very odd to me. (But, so were apparently deeply evangelical Christians celebrating Halloween…. but that is another story….). I tried it both ways: one year I was Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas, one year I was a sexy bee. I liked the former more, but decided that it was wrong to judge people’s motivations and decisions for pursuing the latter – just as I hated being judged outside of Halloween. In future years, I am going for cool / clever costumes, but cheering on the skin-showers (and allowing my husband to too). This year I am 9 months pregnant, so I might be a whale – no costume required 😉

  • Sam @ Better With Sprinkles October 23, 2012, 2:12 pm

    This is an interesting topic! It intrigues me because I’m 23 and I enjoy dressing sexy once in a while (I’m not going to lie, part of me loves that unicorn costume). Halloween is a sexy, sexy celebration of heterosexual lust and desire. – I’m not sure if I 100% agree with that quote but I think it has the general idea. I do it because for me, it’s fun. In 5-10 years I’ll probably work my way towards the still-sexy-but-less-revealing costumes, but at this juncture in my life, it works for me.

  • Allie Todd October 23, 2012, 2:12 pm

    I think that not only does this type of costume scream for attention, it also allows people an escape from themselves. Because HEY! It’s Halloween. Anything goes, right?

    Suddenly, women slap on hot pants and a bra, and BOOM! They’re an alter-ego. They can go out, party, and feel like there’s no consequence. Mostly (mostly!) because… there isn’t. You are just one more “sexy” girl among the masses. Nobody’s going to judge you because that’s just what people do for Halloween.

    I kind of loathe Halloween for this reason. I don’t like people trying to stare at my butt/cleavage on any regular day, so whyyyyyyy would I BEG for it to happen on Halloween? Bleh.

  • Lindsey October 23, 2012, 2:17 pm

    Halloween, aka mating season, is supposed to be FUN! Think about it, little kids get dressed up and pretend to be something they’re not..it’s a fantasy. Adults – same deal. No self respecting woman who, say, works in the business world, would walk out of her house with her boobies showing! But on Halloween she can flaunt her goods and it’s OKAY! I think that’s awesome. I once was a sexy blind mouse (one of three) and it was one of those amazing nights I will never forget because I could strut around and no one judged me for it. I must note though, that another woman may get the same confidence boost from being something completely funny and ridiculous like a Mrs. Potato Head. Whatever floats your boat….I think people are too judgmental because they wish they were living out their fantasies but are too self righteous to do it.

  • Mary October 23, 2012, 2:22 pm

    Dan Savage has a podcast?! How did I not know? (And great post!)

  • Emily @ Perfection Isn't Happy October 23, 2012, 2:23 pm

    Not so much. I think that you can still be cute/hot without being overly sexy. It just looks cheap to me. But I also get how girls want to fit in. If you wear a pumpkin sweatsuit to a frat party, you’re probably going to made fun of. I’m glad that my college years are over so I don’t have to deal with that pressure ;).

  • Brigid October 23, 2012, 2:25 pm

    I don’t understand the sexualization of Halloween (and if we wanted to drill down really deeply, the candy-ization of it either, but that’s a separate discussion). I never did the revealing the costumes because they aren’t me, but if other women want to — emphasis on “want,” not “feel like they need to” — then fine, whatever, go for it. But it is a feminist issue. When all the options are sexualized, it’s not a choice. It’s an expectation. That’s the main problem I have with the costumes.

    • Kristy @ Kristy's Health Revolution October 23, 2012, 3:49 pm

      That’s why we should go back to the old days when putting together a Halloween Costume didn’t mean going to the store and buying a cheaply sewn together costume, but actually thinking of an idea and putting together the elements on your own. Then, this isn’t an issue at all. If I made a sexy Tootsie Roll costume from scratch, maybe someone would be pretty impressed.

      • Brigid October 23, 2012, 6:35 pm

        I agree on preferring handmade. I never had a prefab costume growing up (creative mom/poor family), so it never occurs to me to buy something from the party store.

    • Margaret October 23, 2012, 6:46 pm

      “When all the options are sexualized, it’s not a choice.” That’s why I think the issue lies more in the area of our commercialism than a feminist issue – going to an Official Costume Store and buying a premade “Costume” is not your only option. If you want to be a [blank], going to a store and buying a sexy version of it is NOT your only option. You don’t have to be that crafty to put together a costume of just about anything, but somehow our culture doesn’t promote that kind of creativity as a viable option.

      • Kristy @ Kristy's Health Revolution October 25, 2012, 9:34 am

        Yes! This is my point too! I’m much more likely to be impressed with your costume if you make it, no matter how much skin is showing.

  • Whitney October 23, 2012, 2:27 pm

    I personally think it has to do with confidence, how secure you are with your body and nothing with the actual costumes themselves. I do not have a problem with women wearing sexy costumes for Halloween. I enjoy showing a little skin off for myself and my husband! I work out hard for my figure so I go for it 🙂

    I do love that you wrote about this topic and let your readers express their opinions. That’s why I love your blog!

  • Holly P. @ A Year in Wichita October 23, 2012, 2:27 pm

    Great topic! Like you, I donned 2 sexy outfits in college during my freshman and sophomore years and after that, I was DONE. Also like you, I’m not sure why exactly I did it,but most likely it was just because all of my other friends were doing it, so why not. I grew up a lot a in college, developed my own opinions, and started to feel comfortable expressing those opinions without feeling a need to conform. One of those opinions is that I just do NOT like the sexy costumes. I find them to be rather trashy and attention-seeking, not to mention unoriginal. My opinion is that halloween costumes have come so far from what halloween is about: scary things! Monsters, ghouls, ghosts, witches, skeletons, etc. I wish more folks dressed up in frightening (not-too-revealing) costumes. That being said, I do love creative/funny costumes. One of my best friends dressed up as the leg lamp from A Christmas Story last year and it was a riot. Not to mention that she still looked pretty sexy b/c she has great legs. But she certainly didn’t look trashy.

  • meagan October 23, 2012, 2:32 pm

    Hahah, well, I love Halloween. It’s American culture’s one and only Feast of Fools/Saturnalia/etc festival where people can dress up, be whatever they want, invert culture, gender, class, etc. It’s a pressure valve and one last excuse to party freely before winter sets in with all the stress of the holidays, cooping up in your house, etc. Why not let loose with some awesome costumes and a bit of (safe) debauchery?

    The sexy costume thing used to bother me. And it does bother me if it’s an external expectation or comes from a place of insecurity, but that’s not my place to discern for someone else. I just assume that if someone’s wearing it, it’s because they want to, and if they look cold, well…that’s their problem.

    Of course, creative homemade costumes—sexy or not—always win!

  • Kristy @ Kristy's Health Revolution October 23, 2012, 2:33 pm

    Ok, I agree with you — to a point. I hate those Leg Avenue costumes. They are unoriginal and an excuse to wear lingerie. But, a girl can wear whatever she wants, so if she wants to be a sexy Tootsie Roll, cool. I don’t get it, but whatever.

    However, I DO think sexy costumes are cool! My friend was once “Babraham Lincoln”, which was a HILARIOUS play on the “sexy girl costume” idea — she wore a bustier, short black shorts, a top hat, a beard and a coat with tails. It was hysterical and amazing. Last year I was Black Swan. I wore a leotard, fishnets, heels, feathers, did my makeup up. My costume was as baring as most of those up there, but I prepared and put it together by hand! And it was awesome!

    So yeah, if you’re referring to those silly, from-the-package Leg Avenue costumes that are just lingerie in disguise, meh. But do-it-yourself sexy costumes are awesome.

    That said, my fiance and I are being Hall and Oates for Halloween. Haha.

  • Sarah @ Yogi in Action October 23, 2012, 2:37 pm

    This is such a fantastic conversation! I was shopping for a Halloween costume this weekend and definitely felt the pressure to be a sexy something.

    My only problem with the sexy costumes is that they are soo short! I would love to be able to be a sexy bo-peep or sexy Dorothy- but because I’m 5’11 the costumes don’t even cover my butt!

    I think people should wear what they want to wear, and other people shouldn’t judge. If I want to wear my bra out, it’s not effecting anyone but me. If you don’t want to wear what I’m wearing, then wear what you’re comfortable in.

    That being sad, this year I am being a Halloween slut- but circa 1900. Meaning my ankles and wrists will be showing. A bit of a spin-off on the typical costumes!

    • Sarah @ Yogi in Action October 23, 2012, 2:38 pm

      That should say “that being said” not “Sad”

    • MC October 26, 2012, 10:36 am

      HALLOWEEN SLUT CIRCA 1900. I love it! I nearly spit my coffee out when reading that.

      I just informed my friend who is hosting her Halloween party tomorrow that I may show up as that. Or a blanket. Because you know, then I could just have an excuse to wrap a blanket around myself while drinking. It’s pretty sensible, if I do say so myself.

      • Caitlin October 26, 2012, 10:36 am

        Totes be a blanket.

  • J October 23, 2012, 2:42 pm

    “In fact, now I’m waffling on whether there is something ‘wrong’ with sexy costumes at all, especially from a feminist standpoint. I still do think that sexy costumes are kind of – honestly – lame (and I can say that because I used to wear them). ”

    The only thing “wrong” with sexy costumes from a feminist standpoint is that creepers take it as an invitation to hit on/harass/assault the wearer. Don’t blame the costumes, blame the patriarchy/rape culture/creepy people.

    On another note, you really shouldn’t use the word “lame” like that. I only recently realized how offensive it is (it’s ableist, implies that being disabled is bad, kind of like saying “that’s so gay”), so I’m sure you’re in the same boat. I don’t mean to call you out, but I saw it in someone else’s comment on here too and you seem like the type who would want to be corrected. Anyway, I love that you use your blog as a platform to start discussions about feminism and political issues. You have a big audience and it’s important to talk about these things.

    • DadHTP October 23, 2012, 9:20 pm

      I know some people have trouble with comments like ‘lame’ – but I’ve been disabled and had serious mobility issues for over 20 years and ‘lame’ never occurred to me to be an insult. I am lame.

      Ask my orthopedic guy to explain it, but I could ride a bike 20 hours a day with few problems, but for years I couldn’t walk to the back of a Best Buy without serious pain….

  • Cynthia October 23, 2012, 2:46 pm

    I always say to each her own. “Sexy” Halloween costumes are no more revealing than bikinis and those are socially acceptable and expected in the summer months, why should Halloween be any different. If you have the body and/or are comfortable I say ROCK it!

  • Katie @ Soulshine and Sassafras October 23, 2012, 2:49 pm

    Female sexuality is one of my favorite feminist issues! I understand all the misogynistic tropes and concerns with female sexuality – objectification, double standards, etc. However, I think that women should feel the freedom to not dress sexy AND the freedom to dress sexy – whichever she chooses. I’ve had plenty of Halloween costumes that were not remotely sexy – one year, my male friend and I dressed up as each other because I had a pixie cut and our hair looked the same. Other years I’ve gone sexier – like this year, when I plan to go as Daenerys from Game of Thrones. Personally, my costumes usually fall somewhere in the middle – I try to pick a creative idea and then go all out with it. I think the demonification of female sexuality is just as sexist as the over-sexification of women.

    • Christena October 24, 2012, 6:48 pm

      Yes! I like your comment. We should have the choice.

  • laura October 23, 2012, 2:54 pm

    i cannot STAND when girls look “sexy” on halloween. it literally drives me crazy. this started in college, and i felt like such a mom hating on everyone’s outfit, but it’s like they just turn anything into “sexy”. a “sexy” cat…? a “sexy” policeman? a “sexy” Indian? it literally makes me so mad, and i have no idea why. take a chill pill, i know…. i’m so glad you brought up yandy. they’ve been blowing up my pandora during runs now since september and the girl’s voice makes me cringe. a sexy watermelon? alright, sure! how silly, i’m sorry. I really don’t like this holiday and i think it’s because I get so annoyed with all the girls thinking its free ranges to look like sluts, sorry. bash away!

    • laura October 23, 2012, 2:55 pm

      and i will step off my soapbox. seriously, this is probably one of two topics that get me heated!!! i’m so glad you wrote about it bc i think my poor boyfriend is tired of hearing about it.

  • KaraHadley October 23, 2012, 2:54 pm

    I’m waffling on the whole sexy costume thing. In years past I definitely did the sexy thing — Charlie’s angels, Alice in Wonerland, lusting over sexy sailor costumes. Last year, though, I decided to break away from it and I dressed as broccoli — green tights, yellow shorts that I wrote “organic” one, a green shirt, and a green afro wing. And honestly, dressing in a funny costume was so much more than being sexy (and so much more comfortable and dance-able!). I still don’t know what I’m doing this year, but I’m definitely leaning towards funny over sexy.

    • Amelia October 23, 2012, 7:07 pm

      Broccoli! That is so hilarious! Way to go.

    • Kristy @ Kristy's Health Revolution October 25, 2012, 9:36 am

      What an AWESOME costume idea!!! You rule!

  • Becca October 23, 2012, 3:01 pm

    The issue is the issue as the pornography issue (no, I’m not comparing people who wear revealing costumes to porn stars; bear with me a minute). I believe Savage is very pro-porn as well, with the same kind of rationale–“if you like watching, it more power to you; don’t be such a prude, etc.”). However, I can’t get on board with either of these stances.

    The problem is these issues are not as simple as one individual making a decision. When nearly ALL of the porn portrays women in unrealistic and very often degrading ways, it’s just not as simple as “hey, whatever turns you on.” It becomes a cultural issue that SHAPES our expectations for men and women. The same can be said for these costumes. It’s not all about you, the person wearing it. The fact is, women have a history of being demeaned and discriminated against because of sexual objectification. SO, I’m sorry, but you can’t make decisions in a vacuum. There are larger cultural implications when many women dress in intentionally revealing clothing, whether it’s Halloween or not. I really do wonder, for example, how many women would actually dress this way if others didn’t do it. In college for sure, there are expectations for how you will dress/act on Halloween. At that point, it’s not really about individual expression anymore; it’s about conformity.

    I think it comes down to whether you think we should all just look out for #1 (“Hey, I like how I feel when I dress this way”), or if you think we should consider the larger cultural implications of our decisions. Those implications will be there, whether we acknowledge them or not. If that means I “have a stick up my ass,” so be it.

    • Jen October 23, 2012, 5:31 pm

      So agree!!!

    • Eliza October 23, 2012, 6:11 pm

      Very well said. The personal is always also political. The objectification of women is an engrained part of sexist culture, regardless of who is doing the objectifying. We are all a part of it.

    • Andrea October 24, 2012, 10:48 am

      Yes! I completely agree with you!!!

    • CPB October 31, 2012, 2:56 pm

      This x1000

  • Michelle @ Lifewithacrazypup October 23, 2012, 3:07 pm

    I’m totally anti-sexy Halloween costumes. They drive me absolutely crazy! I always want to boycott Facebook for the few days surrounding Halloween so I can spare myself the irritation! I guess I really am turning into my mom… Scary!

  • SaraJoan October 23, 2012, 3:16 pm

    Honestly, it’s not the presence of all the “sexy” costumes that bothers me as it is the absence of any significant pre-fab alternatives. (Well, that and the ever younger sizes in which one finds the “sexy” costumes.) But I don’t think ill of those who choose to wear ’em — their bodies, their money, their lives. I may mock the costumes in theory (some are just so … weird to me) but à chacun son goût.

    Personally I don’t wear, and I never did wear, the lots of skin=sexy Halloween costumes … but then I grew up in northern Michigan where that would’ve been suicidal, plus I can sew. My childhood costumes were always designed to accommodate a snowsuit! In college I wore sexy costume, but they showed a level of skin I was comfortable showing.

    Since it doesn’t seem like anyone’s posted a link to the site, I’ll ask: have you seen Take Back Halloween? The site has some very fun and interesting ideas. 🙂

  • Allie October 23, 2012, 3:19 pm

    I like Dan Savage’s argument, actually, because it’s always kind of how I’m felt about it – I usually go a little “sexier” than I would day-to-day, but I still keep it pretty clean because that’s just how I am. One year I was a tennis player – would I usually prance around in a little tennis skirt and tight polo shirt? Nope. But Halloween can be a fun time to show it off a little.

  • Jen@HealthyFoodandFamily October 23, 2012, 3:26 pm

    I think Halloween is the one day of the year we can be someone completely different! I have never been into the sexy costume thing myself, but I’ve also been obese the past 10 years, so it would not have even crossed my mind. This year I have a better body, but I also have 3 children that I’m sure don’t want to see their mom dressed as a sexy tootsie roll 😉

  • Ali October 23, 2012, 3:26 pm

    The pros and cons of the sexy costume pretty much sum up the postfeminist arguments about the state in which women are living today…..women are at a point in history where they can dress up like anything they want, BUT we’re bombarded with messages telling us that the only right way to dress up for Halloween is the sexy way. The problem for me comes when sexy costumes are the ONLY choice for women in Halloween stores…and increasingly this seems to be the case.
    The best Halloween I had was when a friend and I dressed up as tattoo artists. We had aprons with a ton of temporary tattoos/spray bottles/sponges and offered tattoos to people all night. It was an excellent way to meet guys while not exposing 90% of our flesh 🙂
    That being said, I do love Dan Savage, and I do think he has a point about expressing our sexuality in a healthy and fun way, but again when the ONLY way to expose your sexuality (as a woman) is by wearing a skimpy costume, that’s a big problem.

  • Amy October 23, 2012, 3:28 pm

    I am a fan of homemade or creative costumes, but I’ve never been one to show too much skin even in my college days. My dream costume for the past few years has been Kristen Wiig’s Target Lady (or any of her SNL characters)…so not sexy, but really funny 🙂

  • Maribeth October 23, 2012, 3:37 pm

    i kind of take the sexy halloween costumes with a grain of salt – yes, they’re lame, but i get a kick out of them. i was totally that girl in college who dressed up as britney in “baby one more time.” now, at 26, i don’t feel like i need to be sexy, but there’s more pressure to have a creative costume. i’m hoping this year i see a lot of political costumes (binder full of women???) and not so many sexy ref/sexy pumpkin costumes. but i have to say, that sexy tootsie roll would be adorable… if it were a little longer and if it was more homemade looking 🙂

  • Nicole October 23, 2012, 3:39 pm

    It’s hard to find Halloween costumes that are attractive and flattering, yet not slutty. As I get older, I do feel more and more inappropriate dressed as a “slutty fill-in-the-blank”. But I also don’t want to dress as a zombie, wolverine, or thor. I guess that I lean towards sexy costumes bc if I’m going to take that much time to get dressed up and put on a cake of makeup, I’d rather look sexy than scary.

  • Vicki October 23, 2012, 3:43 pm

    I love to sex it up a bit for Halloween – that being said, I don’t go for “sexy this” or “sexy that” and I tend to stay away from the Halloween stores. I like to go for more authentic costumes, and generally tend toward strong, sexy women to portray. I love to dress up for Halloween – the rest of the year I’m more of a jeans-and-tshirt kind of girl, but on Halloween I like to have fun. In past years I’ve been a nurse (with a revealing neckline – college), Cleopatra, a Civil War soldier (sexy in its own way LOL), a devil, a modern vampire… This year we are a Bavarian couple with our little 3mo old heifer. My dirndl is sexy, because traditional dirndls are just inherently sexy and that’s what I love about it. Not trying to “sex up” anything.

    I live in a college party town and it really does amaze me what the girls like to sex up for their big night of debauchery. Then again, they aren’t really showing much more skin than a standard August Friday night frat party.

    I am a strong woman with a whole lot of self worth, sexy in my own way and I know it and revel in it. I’m comfortable in my own body and like to have fun with it every once in a while! And besides, the hus kinda loves it too….

  • Allie October 23, 2012, 3:43 pm

    It doesn’t necessarily bother me when others dress up “sexy” on halloween. I get more upset when someone tries to tell me I should sex up a costume I thought long and hard about! My idea of a great halloween is not dressing scantily and going to the bars, but since I live on a college campus, that seems to be the expectation. This year, my friends and I have decided to forgo the bars and just hangout at home and have a funny costume contest! If someone wants to bare lots of skin for one night (a typically very cold Minneapolis night) then so be it, I just know myself enough that I don’t like being in situations where that is the prevalent ideal.

    On a side note, this topic always make me think of Mean Girls when they are getting ready for halloween and the normal costume is lingerie with some form of animal ears. “I’m a mouse, Duh.” Ha

  • Hayley @ Running on Pumpkin October 23, 2012, 3:50 pm

    I just graduated college last spring and after four years of wearing nothing but “sexy” halloween costumes (the way you described your college years of Halloween pretty much sums up mine), I am so OVER them. Just like you said, they are not ever the best costumes, they aren’t funny or creative, and they all look pretty much like every other girl’s costume. I think I was too afraid in college of wearing something outside of the norm and not being “noticed” in the way girls like to be noticed in college…one of my best friends always wore hilariously clever costumes and got so much praise for them, so I don’t know why I was afraid of that kind of attention. I think it’s just something many young women go through and most eventually realize that the “sexy” costumes aren’t so sexy after all.

  • jameil October 23, 2012, 3:51 pm

    And now I want to be the sexy unicorn because it is HILARIOUS and makes absolutely no sense!! LOLOL!

  • Andrea October 23, 2012, 3:56 pm

    One thing that I feel like most people don’t think about before dressing in a skimpy costume is that regardless of whether everyone else is doing it or not, that is still your actual boobs and actual butt on display for everyone to see. If you wouldn’t mind the guy sitting next to you in class to see it on any other night you’re at a party, then no problem, but if you don’t want anyone to see your cleavage or the bottom of your butt normally, then why do it on Halloween? Even in a costume, it’s still you.

  • Emily October 23, 2012, 4:05 pm

    I have so many thoughts on this issue that I can’t even put them into words. Basically: if you need to wear a scantily clad outfit to feel sexy, more power to you. But I think there is definitely something to say about a society that can create an entire industry around reducing women’s sexuality to (pardon my French) ass and tits. It’s my 21st birthday, so I’m going as a present. A giant present. No sex about it.

    An entire issue on its own: My campus has recently been flooded with “I AM NOT A COSTUME” flyers against racist Halloween costumes. As a Women’s Studies major, I feel quite beside myself that I never thought of it before. Do you know how degrading it must feel for an individual to feel targeted on Halloween because a large number of people poke fun at cultural and racial stereotypes? You can find more about the “We are a Culture, Not a Costume” campaign here: http://www.theroot.com/views/stop-racist-halloween-costumes

    • Nicole October 24, 2012, 4:20 pm

      I’m with you. A lot of above comments suggest that women wearing sexy costumes outside of the bedroom are inviting men to look at them lustfully. However, I believe there’s so much more to sexuality and attraction. Our bodies are made to reproduce so whether we dress as Playboy bunnies or carrots, a potential mate would find us sexy just the same.

  • Isabella October 23, 2012, 4:08 pm

    I don’t celebrate Halloween. (you don’t have to feel sorry for me)
    But this post was interesting nontheless!

  • Katie October 23, 2012, 4:14 pm

    I think its all about personal preference. Last year my girlfriends and i won a costume contest with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costumes we made out of sweatpants from Walmart! It was the perfect costume for Minnesota! All the males were impressed that we could run around act goofy.

    • Gloria October 23, 2012, 5:43 pm

      I ran an 80s-themed 5K as a Ninja Turtle! We were a group of four and it was a blast. Also really comfortable and cheap to put together!

  • Amber K October 23, 2012, 4:19 pm

    I think everyone should wear what makes them feel confident and happy. But it is sad when those that don’t want to go the sexy route don’t have good options.

    • Kristy @ Kristy's Health Revolution October 25, 2012, 9:37 am

      But they do!! You can make a costume, or put together elements to make a costume. I swear, the only option isn’t going out and buying a pre-made costume.

      • CPB October 31, 2012, 3:03 pm

        True. But the vast majority of people don’t have the time, money, energy, etc to make their own costume. If I had the skill and resources to do so I’d make my own clothing to, but in reality it’s just not feasible.

  • Katie October 23, 2012, 4:44 pm

    I am not afraid of offending anyone by saying that I think these sexy costumes are wrong and totally objectify women. I’ve always hated Halloween anyway but it makes me sad to see all these girls wearing costumes like that. I just wish it wasn’t the trend.

  • Ellen @ Wannabe Health Nut October 23, 2012, 4:46 pm

    I think I’ve only been something “sexy” once or twice for Halloween. I usually go for silly or fun costumes. Last year I was Melissa McCarthy from Bridesmaids (arm bandage, bowling shirt, cap, neck pillow and all!) and the year before that I was The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. It was pretty badass, I have to admit. This year…I bought half my costume and then have yet to sort anything else out. I don’t think I have any plans for Halloween yet!

  • Kim October 23, 2012, 5:00 pm

    I’m definitely not into the sexy costume trend. I think your Bavarian costumes were awesome. Best line of the day… Heterosexuals gay pride parade. The ability to make others laugh and smile is a real gift.

  • Sarah October 23, 2012, 5:02 pm

    To paraphrase Mean Girls, “Halloween is the one night of the year that girls can dress [sexy] and no other girls can say anything about it.” As a junior in college, and as a girl with lower self-esteem, I know that I can dress sexy and I won’t be judged for it. I don’t dress sexy on a daily basis or even when going out because it’s just not me, so to have a night where that’s “accepted” makes it all the more fun.
    That said, I tend to stick to costumes that are already made to be sexy, like Cleopatra, Olympia from Rocky Horror, Wonder Woman, Roxie Hart from CHICAGO, etc. These costumes are already “sexy”. I will not be a “sexy candy bar” or “sexy lemon wedge” because that’s just dressing sexy for the sake of dressing sexy. It’s still Halloween, after all.

    • Caitlin October 23, 2012, 6:42 pm

      Yay Rocky Horror!

  • Leslie October 23, 2012, 5:17 pm

    If it weren’t for the plethora of sexy costumes in stores/on websites, it honestly would never have occurred to me to be a sexy this or that for Halloween, ever. I did it once in college because I thought that was the thing to do, but I’ve never been interested in dressing in such a revealing way on that day or any others. Somehow, the strong presence of sexy costumes makes me feel like choosing a non-sexy costume somehow makes me less attractive, and I think that’s my biggest problem with them. I don’t care that other people do it, but I do care that those who don’t feel like outsiders.

  • Megan October 23, 2012, 5:32 pm

    Caitlin I cannot express how much I love that you wrote this post. My college roommates and I were having this exact conversation last night. I despise sexy costumes with almost my entire being and soul. I have never worn one and I don’t have plans on starting. I think they portray such a negative image of women. Why do I have to dress sexy on Halloween to be considered normal? And if I don’t I might as well not show my face at any parties because I would get made fun of. I think these costumes also are part of the reasons behind negative body images developed by young girls. They feel like they have to be stick thin to wear one of these costumes. I’m just so repulsed by the whole thing – sorry for the rant and if I hurt anyone’s feelings :]

    • Kristy @ Kristy's Health Revolution October 25, 2012, 9:39 am

      I think if you “have” to dress sexy at Halloween to be portrayed as normal, you’re hanging out with the wrong people.

  • Lauren @ The Homeostatic Mindset October 23, 2012, 5:45 pm

    Loved hearing all your views on this! You cover topics so thoroughly without ever putting down “the other side.” I have to admit…I’ve always wanted to wear a sexy Halloween costume, but never have. I always end up picking pretty/cute-sy costumes, aka- last year I was Minnie Mouse. Did hair and make-up all nice with the ears on, and then just wore a red polka dot dress. Not sexy though. It makes me think more about where my desire to wear a sexy costume comes from? To get attention/get noticed by guys? Yes. Because all the other girls do, and I’ll be an outcast if I don’t? Yes. But to pin-point one reason…I’m not really sure. There is some thrill to it I feel, but I’ve never been brave enough/confident enough to actually do it. I would feel like I was flaunting myself/my body, and that just makes me uncomfortable. Simply not my style. Thank you for this timely, thought-provoking post!

  • Ali October 23, 2012, 5:46 pm

    I’m not so much into the sexy costumes, personally I think they’re really boring and completely not unique! Instead, I always try and go for something really creative and original that’s not overly sexy but more creative and funny!

  • Kim October 23, 2012, 5:49 pm

    I’m also boycotting the sexy costume this year (tired of a costume being a without pants). Going as a polar bear standing on a tiny iceberg with a cardboard sign: “you think YOUR housing market is bad…” – and I even get to lead a meeting at work in full head-to-toe white fur. WOO! 🙂

  • Sonia the Mexigarian October 23, 2012, 6:08 pm

    Husband and I went as Chiquita Banana and a Banana last year, homemade costume amongst some other really well put together outfits. The “Sexy” Poncho and Cowboy got second place . I swear there was only a foot of fabric covering either of those two women. Dick in a Box won first (their costumes looked really good actually).

    I dressed up as Sexy Alice one college Halloween. Got over the “sexy” costume really fast when i nearly froze my butt off. I now want to wear costumes with more originality and thought.

    To each their own I say.

  • Gloria October 23, 2012, 6:09 pm

    I haven’t ever worn costumes that were skimpy, but that’s my personality and preference and I don’t feel better than anyone who chooses something different. If anything, I just feel bad for some girls that choose to wear so little clothing on what are usually cold nights in Buffalo.

    So while it doesn’t concern me that some people choose to dress sexy on Halloween, it does concern me that our culture seems to be placing more and more value on physical appearance and constant preoccupation over how other people are viewing us. When I was a teenager, I didn’t have the option of taking 50 photos of myself and posting it on Facebook for all of my friends/family/acquaintances to see and then comment on. It’s become the new normal for some of my younger cousins and that does scare me. Not because it’s inherently wrong, but because they’re not encouraged to get validation in other areas of their life.

  • Jessica October 23, 2012, 6:47 pm

    If anything, I roll my eyes at the complete lack of creativity when it comes to the “sexy” costumes. The sexy part doesn’t bother me, just put some thought and effort into it! My boyfriend and I dressed up as our two cats last year… I know that sounds lame and easy, but we worked their personalities into the costumes and our friends knew exactly what/who we were supposed to be. So fun! I wanted to be Leela from Futurama this year but our plans fell through 🙁

  • Nicole of Raspberry Stethoscope October 23, 2012, 7:01 pm

    I personally think that Halloween costumes should be SCARY. That is my requirement. SCARY–not sexy, funny, or cute, but scary:)

  • Claire October 23, 2012, 7:08 pm

    OK, being from Australia, I DON’T GET HALLOWEEN. Although there are some shops that are trying to get on the halloween bandwagon here, most Australians are barely even aware when it is or what it is about. If kids go trick or treating, most people open their doors and wonder what on earth a small dressed up child is doing there. Anyway, my question is this: I thought Halloween was something about an old pagan festival, and the idea is to dress up as something scary – eg ghost, witch, etc. It was something about scaring away evil spirits hence dressing up scary and carving a scary pumpkin to put by your door. But having followed blogs from the US for a couple of years now, it seems like you dress up as anything – there is no theme whatsoever. So educate me – what on earth is it supposed to be about? What have sexy milkmaids, unicorns, football players, cleopatra, and lederhosen got in common? I just don’t get it, it baffles me. Sorry, I know this is a bit off topic, but I was pondering it on my run this morning so it seemed timely to ask!

  • Mae October 23, 2012, 7:12 pm

    I don’t like to party that much, so “adult” Halloween is not really my type of holiday. Nonetheless, I’ve dressed sexy on Halloween on two occasions, several years apart. Both times, I made my own costume. If I do say so myself, I had a lot of fun with those costumes–both making them and wearing them.

    The only complaint I heard was from my (generally narcissistic and critical) mother over some pictures she saw of the latter outfit. Although I was a 23 or 24-year-old engaged woman at the time–which in my opinion is quite a bit different from the antics of an 18-year-old single college freshman out on her own for the first time–she had some issues with the admittedly boobalicious top I wore. (My legs and stomach were fully covered.)

    My philosophy? You surely can’t please everyone. And everyone has an opinion. It’s your life, your costume, your decision! Do what makes YOU happy, and everybody else? Take the same advice, and mind your own business…

  • Claire October 23, 2012, 7:18 pm

    I totally agree with your conclusions. I myself am not really into super sexy halloween costumes, but if other women want to, then go ahead! Because I am in college, there are many of my friends that feel the pressure to dress sexy to conform, and I do not support that, but if it’s their choice not because of feeling insecure of shamed, then by all means make your own choices.

    This is why I love reading your blog. You post thought provoking topics and link to articles, presenting both sides of the debate. There is always substance behind what you post and I really really appreciate that!

  • Laura @ She Eats Well October 23, 2012, 7:26 pm

    I always think about this on Halloween and as it nears. I would be lying if I said I didn’t judge someone for wearing a sexy costume, if it’s extremely revealing, but this is definitely making me take a step back and attempt to be less judgmental.

    I will say though, that the problem I have with it is when sexy costumes are on really young girls. I can’t help it, but it really bothers me and it is TOO SOON. Adults – sure, do what you want. But when it is a sexy costume on a girl in junior high, that isn’t ok in my book.

  • Ashley October 23, 2012, 7:46 pm

    I think categorizing sexy costumes as “wrong” is just another way too oppress women. I mean, really? Don’t dress to “revealing”, you might rile up the men folk!…..is absurd. If someone wants to wear something sexy, then they can wear something sexy. If they want to dress in something funny, they can wear something funny. It’s about choice. So I have to say, it surprises me that you would think this way considering how strongly you feel about women’s rights. This just seems to be another way of oppression. We came out of the days of girdles and petticoats a long time ago. Women need to stop judging other women, period. This is just the same as the “mommy wars” you have spoken of, in my honest opinion. Live and let live I say.

  • sallie October 23, 2012, 8:00 pm

    Oh my gosh, Dan Savage thinks Halloween is a heterosexual celebration of lust and desire? I don’t know about him but the Halloween parties full of gay men that I’ve attended have been full of skin baring lust and desire in ALL men! Don’t kid yourself, gay men objectify bodies just as much as straight men, I’d venture to say sometimes even more b/c two men are involved.

  • Marie-Santé October 23, 2012, 8:12 pm

    I was that weird kid of made up all of her Halloween costumes. I’ve been dress as a plant, pepper, witch (but with the green face and all that jazz), an owl (before it was cool, bahaha) KISS, etc.
    I’m still with the same high school boyfriend, so I’ve never had anyone to impress on Halloween 😉
    I remember being in clubs with girls with sexy costumes and me, way too much into Halloween and I don’t know, we all had a great time, no one judged me and I judged no one. We all do our own thing, it’s cool!

  • Kristina October 23, 2012, 8:18 pm

    I think the sexy costumes are cool if you’re feeling it. Gives you a chance to go out and not be judged for dressing that way…well until other women give you bad looks etc. It’s just a silly commercial holiday- who really cares? It gives us a chance to experiment while also blending in. Makes sense to me. As long as you are doing it because you want to and not because someone else tells you to.

  • Jolene (www.everydayfoodie.ca) October 23, 2012, 8:43 pm

    I’m not into the sexy costumes. Halloween seems like an excuse to dress like a “s**t”. I don’t even like going out for Halloween because of it.

  • Jennifer October 23, 2012, 9:18 pm

    Have you ever watched Jenna Marbles take on this?? *Caution foul language* I found it quite funny. Youtube it (out of ear shot of Henry of course 😉 )

  • Laura October 23, 2012, 9:48 pm

    Have to quote “Mean Girls” here, b/c that’s where all my wisdom comes from!!!
    “In Girl World, Halloween is the one night a year when a girl can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.The hard-core girls just wear lingerie and some form of animal ears.”

    I love Halloween & my favorite year was when my 5 five roommates & stole the lampshades from our house & dressed as lamps to match our personalities: I was the “little girls room” lamp, we had a boys room, art deco lamp, antique, and a garage sale lamp.

  • Laura October 23, 2012, 10:55 pm

    I HATE the “sexy” costume thing because I don’t think most of them look sexy (I, too, am trying to avoid “slutty”, and more accurate to me, “whorish,” but I’m having a hard time because they don’t look good to me, or empowered, or strong, or even comfortable–they look cheap and like they’re dressed up to have sex for money, and they’re dressed this way for the sexual pleasure of someone else and not for themselves 🙁 ). They look really stupid to me. And if I try to go buy a ready-made Hallowe’en costume store, I can’t find anything I like or that even looks “respectable” to me unless I go for men’s costumes.

    This is why this isn’t fair or feminist or equitable to me–men get to buy readymade costumes that look like what they’re trying to represent. They don’t necessarily look sexy or revealing, they look cool (and Dan is full of it–as a gay man, he should know men showing skin can totally be sexy). All of the women’s costumes look revealing and uncomfortable, and unless we come up with more money or do our own ideas, we’re stuck looking like someone else’s idea of what is attractive. It’s not fair.

    Can you tell this is a sore point for me every year? To avoid this BS I went as “Sarah Palin for US Monarch 2012” (complete with beauty queen crown and office attire) one year, an insane ax murder version of Paula Deen another, the “Killer Queen” from the Queen song another…it’s nice that I’ve used my creativity, but I’ve frankly had to because of all the lame choices they have out there.

    • Laura October 23, 2012, 10:57 pm

      And also? Dan Savage talking about what is feminist and the women’s perspective, blah blah blah would be like me making comments about what a gay person must be thinking, or what a person of color must be thinking–I can imagine, I can try to put myself in their shoes, but I’m still the outside looking in and can’t speak from a place of authority. Dan Savage is wrong on this one, and he needs to grow another X chromosome if he wants to start speaking for me 🙂

  • Rebecca October 23, 2012, 11:02 pm

    I JUST watched a video this morning on “sexy” Halloween costumes.

    One year, I was a Hershey Kiss. I think I was about 8 or 10. Giant fluffy triangular costume we found at Goodwill. It was great. Awkward to walk around in, maybe, and not very visible because it’s October in Minnesota and we wear coats, but it worked.
    The last time I dressed up for Halloween was my Senior year of high school and it was only because I was going to a camp retreat that encouraged costumes. I couldn’t think of anything super-creative, so I went with a last-minute plan of wearing a Hawaiian shirt and calling myself a tourist. My best friend got detailed with hers and was a mime–complete with hat and makeup. Our youth pastor was a knight. One girl was a cow–a regular cow, not a sexy one. It was awesome.
    Before Senior year, the last time I did Halloween was probably like 5th grade or something.

    Honestly, I’d rather wear an actual boxy-looking costume versus a dress version of it. I’d rather wear an adult-sized Tigger (or whatever) costume than the “sexy” version. More true to the character–and warmer, considering sometimes we have feet of snow by Halloween. Haha.

  • Christine @ BookishlyB October 23, 2012, 11:04 pm

    I dress conservatively EVERY day as a high school teacher, so if I want to go all slutty librarian on the 31st I think I’m entitled. I’m not, because it’s a work night and plan on staying home to pass out expensive candy that I buy with my hard earned money to all the little strangers that run around the neighborhood, but I don’t think slutty costumes are a big deal. I’m all for feminism, but I think sometimes we have to pick our battles.

  • Lindsay October 23, 2012, 11:38 pm

    I don’t usually wear sexy costumes because I get too cold and because I personally feel uncomfortable showing a ton of skin. But I don’t think it’s an issue of “right” or “wrong.” What other women wear is not my business. I’m not even sure what this whole “dressing like slut” thing means. Dressing like a woman who has sex? Because most adults have sex. Or is it more specific, like dressing like a woman who has sex with someone she’s not married to? I also don’t really think that criticizing sexy costumes for a lack of creativity really makes sense. Most costumes I see, sexy or not, are not super creative, and are usually just one of dozens like them. I think Halloween is just a time for people to have fun and wear what they want, hopefully without tons of other people judging them for it.

  • Jen October 24, 2012, 12:12 am

    Awww, girl…you just rained on my parade – I was TOTALLY planning to dress as a sexy orange wedge this year! BAHAHAHAHA Those “sexy” costumes are toooo funny! 🙂

    On a more serious note, my views are pretty much in line with yours. I really have no problem with (grown) women wearing sexy costumes, as long as it’s for the right reason (i.e., no one should feel pressured to do so), but I have never found those to be the most interesting costumes. Perhaps, if I were a man, I would feel differently. 🙂

    Also, I agree with many other posters in that it’s sad that there aren’t more non-sexy options available in the stores. Much respect to those with the time & creativity to put together their own costumes…those always are the BEST!

    • Jen October 24, 2012, 12:19 am

      *Should have said, “much respect to those who MAKE the time & have the creativity…” I didn’t mean to imply that any one person has more time than another. Anyway, the point was, I LOVE the homemade costumes! 🙂

  • Sarah M October 24, 2012, 2:01 am

    I have a weird rule in regards to sexy costumes. It’s okay to somewhat “sexy” is you’re dressing as something “sexy”. Your Hooters costume would fall in that category because that’s what they wear. Another example of this would be something like a Playboy bunny. The costumes that fall into my more “slutty” than sexy are things like sexy cop, sexy nurse, sexy firefighter, etc. I don’t want to demean women who are cops, firefighters, nurses, etc. while I am sure they’re all sexy women…I know ghat’s not what they wear on the job.

  • jen October 24, 2012, 6:31 am

    very interesting argument…ive always gone for the halloween laugh, and gotten annoyed with all the sexy costumes (seriously, never saw a ghostbuster wearing a visible push up bra and booty shorts)…but then again, i also have major issues with my own body, and have never felt confident to go for the sexy look. am i just reflecting on my own self-image problems? would i want to wear a sexier costume if i had a more appropriate body type? i dont quite know, but i do know one thing…my costume this year is going to win contests, even if its not the sexiest

  • Charise October 24, 2012, 8:17 am

    I did the somewhat-sexy costumes a couple years in college (didn’t have belly baring or butt revealing parts), and I really don’t see anything wrong with it, as long as a woman doesn’t feel like she HAS to dress that way and is uncomfortable with it but does it anyway. Howver, I DO think some of the things the industry tries to “sexify” are ridiculous. For instance, this year, I’m going to be Big Bird and my husband’s going to be Mitt Romney. Look at this version I came across:


    Not as revealing as many, but still – it’s supposed to be a giant fluffy bird from a children’s show. Although I will admit I ordered just that headband, because it is way cheaper and easier than all the other big bird hats I could find. 🙂

  • Jillian @Reshape Your Life October 24, 2012, 8:27 am

    I am in the “whatever” camp as wel. However, my husband owns a bar so every year we get dressed up and have a good time… we both love halloween and spend a lot of time planning our costumes, and yes I usually pick costumes that make me feel sect (though they are usually on the conservative side). I wear what I feel good in, and if that means a shorter skirt, then that’s what I wear. I have always put a lot of effort into my costumes (I have always done group/couple costumes, they are more fun) and usually make them myself when I have the time… but if wearing a skimpy costume once a year makes a girl feel sexy then go for it! If shes doing it to fit in and is uncomfortable, then she needs to reevaluate.

  • Molly @ RDexposed October 24, 2012, 8:39 am

    I love clever Halloween costumes! I think there’s an age cut-off though for skin revealing costumes just as pig tails and mini skirts do.

  • Brenda October 24, 2012, 9:10 am

    I am thrilled that you hit on this topic. I just attended a costume party this past weekend and fortunately ‘costumes were optional’ so I did not wear a costume…but I could not help but notice that all the women that did dress up were in ‘sexy’ costumes…I could not believe it and wondered/worried about what I’ll do in a week or so for attending other parties – what will I wear. I also am not opposed to being ‘sexy’ – but some of the costumes…I personally would only have worn “at home – with someone special” and some of the friends that were at the party with me…agreed (they would do the same). When did this all change…that the norm for a woman’s costume had to be so extremely sexy?
    On a side note – some women also wore sexy costumes that night…and they had body types that should not have (my personal opinion, I realize; I.E. that bared body parts (cellulite, bulges, etc.)) that many of us in attendance did not care to see. Too bad…we tried to be nice…but we did share some giggles – we simply could not help it…seriously some were quite terrible. I feel that they likely wore these ‘too tight, ill-fitting and too revealing’ because likely these types of customes are so readily available.
    Thanks for letting me vent 🙂

  • Maggie October 24, 2012, 9:31 am

    I agree with your end conclusion. If a woman wants to wear a sexy costume because it makes her feel hot and it helps her get what she wants (a sexy guy…or girl) then more power to her. But if she wears it because she feels like that’s the only way she has value then that’s sad.

    I will say, in my personal opinion, I think making things like candy or Gameboys (one of my friends is actually being a sexy Gameboy this year…) sexy is just wrong. Be a Hooters girl, be a French Maid, be Snooki, whatever, at least those are “supposed” to be sexy.

    One of my favorite costumes I saw last year (and I actually saw it on Pinterest after) were two girls dressed as loofahs. They wore a ton of puffy fabric (I don’t know what the word is, like the kind that’s under a princess dress) and had white ropes hooked on around their shoulders. They were showing a good amount of skin (legs and arms), but it wasn’t over the top and it also was creative.

  • Ashley // Our Little Apartment October 24, 2012, 9:36 am

    YES! I agree with you. Girls dress scantily clad to get attention from guys – it’s all about giving the guys something to look at and pandering to them. If it was a girls only party, would they dress that way? I think not.

  • Eliza October 24, 2012, 10:17 am

    Caitlin, I wish you would address the rampant victim blaming that has occurred in your comments section. It may warrant another post. By not responding, you appear to be implicit in this dangerous perspective. Rape culture is supported not only by those who blatantly perpetuate these perspectives, but also by those who stand by in silence.

    If violence of any kind is perpetrated against a person is has absolutely nothing to do with what she is wearing, where she is, how she is behaving, or how much she has had to drink. The blame lies entirely on the perpetrator of violence. To suggest otherwise is to stand in support of those who commit acts of violence.

    • Caitlin October 24, 2012, 10:37 am

      Whooooooa! How I am implicit because I am allowing someone else’s comment to stand? I like discussion and I think other readers more than have this issue covered.

      For what it’s worth, I think it’s ridiculous to say women deserve anything because of how they are dressed.

      • Eliza October 24, 2012, 11:18 am

        Because you proposed the topic as a debate, but didn’t respond to any of these comments with your disagreement. I’m sure that you do not agree with the statements, but to not respond to them on your blog, where you regularly make your opinions public, is confusing to me. I understand that there are several comments here and it would be difficult to reply to them all, but the comments where victim blaming happened take your original post in a very different direction.
        When people say things that are misogynistic, in support of rape culture, I generally try to speak up. In my mind, this is different than someone having a different opinion and allowing that opinion to stand without challenge (for example, if someone disagrees with you politically, has a different parenting perspective, etc.). If people posted racist comments on your blog, would you allow them to stand without comment?
        In addition to being generally scary, these comments could be personally hurtful to people who have experienced sexual violence.

        • Caitlin October 24, 2012, 11:43 am

          Agree with everything you said 🙂 thanks for standing up! Perhaps I should’ve responded quicker!

  • Stace October 24, 2012, 11:03 am

    I am reading some of the comments saying “who cares what people wear and why they wear it” and that this is “slut shaming” etc…. but it is important bc it is’nt just young adults in college it is high school girls and younger as well… First I would like to say that most of those “sexy costumes” are not-original and are made of cheap materials so the “fun” of them is truly just to wear something revealing you might not on another night… I know many of my girlfriends who have worn these costumes have done so just for attention and to look “sexy” bassed on what they thought sexy should be. I remember when i was in 2nd grade another girl and I came to school as “princesses” and one of the costume constest categories (say that 3 times fast) was “most beautiful” …my dress was a handmade satin big ball gown and puffy sleeves and so much detail and I lost to the other little girl who had a costume from the store but it was short and sleeveless and she was wearing make-up .. and she won. It made me question at 7 years old, what beauty really was? Anyway, I never fell into the sexy costume phase and continued to rock costumes that made me happy or laugh or atleast stay warm but i know thats not true for everyone. The other day i was buying make-up for my nephew’s pirate costume and a little girl who was maybe 2/3 yrs old told her mom she did’nt care what she was as long as she was cute and pretty! Sorry so long but this topic is a hot button for me bc i cant stand the status of alot of young girls today. Power to the confident women who dress “sexy” for themselves for fun though.

  • Sophie @ Love Live & Learn October 24, 2012, 11:16 am

    Great post Caitlin! I dream of a society where women can wear whatever they want and not have fear that they will be harassed or even attacked. Unfortunately in my experience this is not the world we live in today. I personally don’t like to dress in super revealing outfits, let alone slightly boring but revealing costumes, however I don’t really have anything against girls who do provided that their motivation to do so is positive.

    I do have a problem with the pressure there is in certain situations (e.g. university nights out) for girls to dress particularly provocatively. I can think of student club nights with themes such as ‘Pimps and hoes’ and I personally find these extremely demeaning and actually kind of offensive. Many of the girls I’ve spoken to hate that sort of thing but feel pressurized to along with it in order to be accepted by their male peers. If young women are dressing in extra ‘sexy’ costumes for Halloween because of this pressure then I definitely don’t agree with it!

    I hope that positive movement can be made for women and girls to feel empowered in all aspects of their lives – whether in their work and education or in their choice to dress a certain way!

  • Irina @ Chocolatea Time October 24, 2012, 11:22 am

    I definitely think Halloween is a time that allows females to leave the norms of society for a night. When else is it acceptable to dress in the shortest dress with the highest of heels? Personally, I used to use Halloween as a time to “show-off” myself. It sounds awful but I was proud of my body and my figure, and wanted to feel sexy and confident and flaunt it. That doesn’t mean that Halloween was the only time I felt confident. In fact, I often feel sassy in my work clothes, but Halloween was just a time to dress out of the norm and have fun. It was never about impressing others…it was more for myself! Nowadays, I’m much more conservative (age will do that to you!) but my stance on Halloween is still the same.

  • Claire October 24, 2012, 12:49 pm
  • Stephanie Clement October 24, 2012, 12:54 pm


    How do you define ‘feminism’? I, myself, am pretty dang tired of hearing people refer to ‘it’ as this encompassing label. As if you are, or you aren’t, a feminist. If you are, there is the connotation that you have to be ‘out there’ fighting for women to have respect, be on the same par as men, play on an equal ground. Though, one would have to be utterly fubar to deny this is an awesome goal.

    With that said, I just don’t think that is truly the essence of feminism. I think the movement represents the sanctity of womanhood- the specialness of our ‘species’ and how we are a powerful component to our world. Thus, we (feminists) recognize ourselves as different than men. Again, bonkers to deny.

    For me, I believe that true feminism is the fight to allow women to do what they want without fear of judgement or critique BECAUSE they are a woman. I get semi-offended when people call themselves feminists and then say that woman shouldn’t wear sexy costumes because it pleases men (or whatever your reasoning for not doing so is). The point of the matter is that it is the women who decide what they want to wear, not the men. Feminism (in my strong opinion) is promoting this choice and fighting critique that may result, for the choice that was made. If we demote women and tell them that to be feminist is to fight our ability to make choices because it might make our ‘species’ vulnerable to criticism and attack, we do women a disservice. Let us think for ourselves, do what we (the individual) think is right, and not amalgamate our opinions into one solid idea called ‘feminism’, otherwise, we might just fit TOO well in those binders…..

    • Liz October 24, 2012, 2:04 pm


  • Cara @ I Don't Believe in Diets October 24, 2012, 2:09 pm

    Just saw this blog post from Jane and thought of you: http://www.xojane.com/issues/penis-based-halloween-costumes


  • Liz October 24, 2012, 2:39 pm

    I have read your post, read most of the comments and my brain is exploding with things to say so I’m going to go for clarity.

    1) Low self esteem manifests itself in many ways; I’ve dressed scantily clad because I had low self esteem and I have covered up every visible inch because I’ve had low self esteem. Lesson: Someone’s clothing decisions are not a reflection of their feeling of self worth.

    2) I’m not sure how anyone can argue women shouldn’t dress scantily clad on Halloween unless that means women should never wear anything revealing. So if women shouldn’t wear anything revealing on Halloween, they should never wear bathing suits either. It’s going to be a hot summer.

    3) More in response to commenters than in response to your original post, as someone who has been on the receiving end of unwanted sexual attention, I can tell you it had nothing to do with the way I was dressed (unless jeans and a hoodie have morphed into sex magnets) and EVERYTHING to do with what was going on in the head of the aggressor (who happened to be male, but women can be sexual aggressors as well).

    4) Like many others have said, we should have the choice to dress how we want without feeling pressure from anyone. If I want to dress in freaking lingerie and walk around on Halloween (or any other day for that matter) what’s it to you? You pass me in the street and you never see me again. If I want to dress in a full length wizard robe with long sleeves, I will take any dirty looks as a sign that you are cold, and not judgment, because gain, why should you care?

    Empowerment (to me) is about having the choice and to know that we are safe to make the choice that suits us best.

  • Liz October 24, 2012, 3:20 pm

    I also wanted to comment that even if a person is dressing up with the intent of showing off and having safe, consensual sex with one, two, or ten partners – I don’t see anything wrong with that. Why should should promiscuity or “sluttiness” or “being sexually loose” be a bad thing if both partners are consenting, happy, adults?

  • Jessi @ doctorate housewife October 24, 2012, 3:59 pm

    I think the tootsie roll is really cute, but that may be because I’m a chocoholic…

  • Dominique Bain October 24, 2012, 4:51 pm

    here’s a website comparing men and women’s Halloween costumes. it is a stark contrast.

  • Christine October 24, 2012, 6:49 pm

    “I don’t want to use the term ‘slutty’ to describe these outfits because it confers that the wearer of the outfit is sexually loose because of how she dresses, which is not necessarily true”

    Or the wearer IS “sexually loose” (a problematic thing to say in itself), and that’s okay too because it’s her choice. I am shocked by the backwards ass comments happening all up in this

    • Caitlin October 24, 2012, 7:23 pm

      I am not trying to be rude, what is wrong with saying a man or a woman is loose? Isn’t it just an expression the way prude is?

      • Aimee October 24, 2012, 7:38 pm

        Sexually loose is problematic because there’s an implicit negative connotation made regarding a woman having lots of partners.

        • Caitlin October 24, 2012, 8:05 pm

          Thanks for explaining your perspective!

  • Annie October 24, 2012, 7:46 pm

    I agree that the “store-bought” sexy costumes are stupid (so $$$$ for hardly any fabric!). I like to design my own costume, but it has become a fun game for me to see how ridiculous my “slutty”(I use this word for humor only) costumes can be. 2 years ago, my friend and I dressed up as a slutty bag of trash and a slutty garbage woman…and I met the love of my life that night 🙂 This year, I’m going for “slutty statue of liberty” — lol.

  • M October 24, 2012, 9:48 pm

    I hope I don’t get moderated or banned for this but honestly, Halloween is just an excuse for many women to let their slutty side out for the night. I say that not as an insult to anyone who does it but as one who has done it myself. When I was younger, I never considered wearing ANYTHING that wasn’t super skimpy/sexy. Even now at my old age of 53, if I had a party to go to, I might still wear something that was skimpy/sexy (and thankfully I can still get away with it). But, I don’t have a party to go to, so I won’t get to dress up this year. Anyway, it’s all just fun and what you are comfortable with.

  • Erica October 25, 2012, 4:48 am

    hahaha- I’m so with you! When I first went to Josh’s friends big halloween party, all the girls were dressed over the top sexy. Josh and I dressed as a double dare team….I was wearing a helmet a giant t and 80’s sweat pants :). Last year, I was Minnie Mouse and this year! I think you can still be cute and not trashy!

  • Jen October 26, 2012, 4:11 pm

    This says so,eti

  • Jen October 26, 2012, 4:23 pm

    Wow, my iPad freaked out on me. The glitchy comment above isn’t letting me delete it. :-/

    This says something about my own feelings and hang ups, of course, but I try to be considerate of my girlfriends when I dress. The majority of my friends are socially progressive with a strong faith background, so it’s an interesting combination of feminism and modesty. If I wore something that showed cleavage or 99% of my legs, it would be unusually sexy for our little sphere. Unusual = attention, and I feel wrong prompting that notice from other people’s guys. (And by “notice,” I don’t mean even their entertaining the thought — just the notice.) Of course, in a different sphere, guys might be so much more adjusted that this would be a non-issue.

  • mollie October 26, 2012, 6:03 pm

    i love halloween so much, and i can’t stand that it’s gotten so sexy. most of my issue stems from the fact that the “sexy” costumes are so boring and stupid and prepackaged. they don’t show any creativity at all (although sexy honey badger kind of cracks me up.) to me, it’s different if someone dresses as a “sexy person”- cleopatra, catwoman, miss america, etc. but trying to make sexy out of normal things (bees, statue of liberty, disney characters, etc.) just seems so desperate.

  • CPB October 31, 2012, 3:11 pm

    It just makes me feel like Halloween has devolved into a holiday where women’s bodies are put on display to be judged and scrutinized by entitled dudes (“No sexy costumes for us, let’s see the goods ladies!”). I’m not seeing any pressure on men to wear sexy costumes that get our motors going. They get to be cool, fun, goofy, whatever, there is just a hell of a lot more variety that women are not granted nowadays…by companies that manufacture these costumes anyway. People can do whatever they want, but the sexy cop/kitty/other crap is an extension of male fantasy. Let’s not pretend it isn’t…that s**t is annoying. Satirically reaming the idea of sexualizing otherwise banal costumes would be killer though.

  • Jamie December 15, 2012, 12:08 pm


  • James September 29, 2013, 3:43 am

    Hey I was kinda mad after reading what that asshole Dan said because I unlike millions of other Americans, know the true meaning of Halloween. The ONLY reason we dress up in the first place is because when this “Holiday” was first created it was for the sole purpose of warding off evil spirits that were supposedly haunting our realm. One way we thought to be rid of them was to wear horrifying costumes in hopes that it would scare them away. If you think that we just randomly decided to run around in Lingerie because it’s liberating then you are clearly retarded. Thus concludes my rant.

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