Halloween, Women, and Sexy Costumes

With Halloween right around the corner, costume ideas have been on a lot of people’s minds. While there is a plethora of possibilities out there for men, women are boxed into the “sexy” Halloween costume corner. I checked out the Top Costumes category for women and men, on Party City’s website and I was pretty let down by what I found. Of the 50 plus costumes designated “Top Costumes” for women, over half of them fell into the sexy category; with skirts that don’t even reach mid-thigh, fishnet or thigh high stockings, and ample cleavage visible.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not being a prude or shaming women for wearing these costumes, its their body, and their choice what to wear for Halloween. My distaste stems from the fact that almost all of these costumes objectify women in one way or another. For example, while in the men’s costumes there is a regular old Captain America costume, the female version becomes “American Dream”, complete with that barely-there skirt and Captain America’s signature thigh-highs…oh wait, he doesn’t wear those.

_ml_p2p_pc_badge_tallest15Of course there’s also the “Rising Sun Native American Princess” costume, which is racist and offensive, but I guess it’s okay because it’s sexy? Scroll down the page a bit more and we get some punny costumes, like the “Hot SWAT” costume, which is really just a corset with some tulle attached, and the “Officer Rita Dem Rights” police costume, which is frankly just bad on so many levels. Oh and lets not forget about the “Sexy Chucky” costume, because nothing screams “sexy” like serial killer doll with an axe.

Looking at the “Top Costumes” for men I see a minion, a “Man in the Yellow Hat”, and even a “Stay Puft Marshmallow Man”, all of which are anything but sexy. In fact, none of the men’s costumes are meant to be sexy, they’re goofy, creepy, or just plain weird, (I’m lookin’ at you chicken costume), but none of them objectify men. The men’s costumes cover their entire body. I’m not confronted with male pectoral cleavage, bare stomachs, or even a little thigh.
These two, widely different “Top Costumes” pages say a lot about our societal expectations of Halloween; men can be whatever they want, but women must be sexy.




  1. So glad you had a great time! I learned the hard way too when I went to my first event. I only brought one bag and that was NOT enough. Now, I know. Enjoy all of your goodies 🙂

  2. Absolutely — misogyny and sexism at their best, or rather worst, at Halloween! Good post, Rita Elisa!

  3. I agree with the other comments, and think that this is, partly, why my daughter and o always make our own costumes: one doesn’t have to (literally) BUY into the dominant narrative- a few bucks and sow creative thinking can let you write your own.

  4. You say some valuable things here! It’s even worse when you don’t have the shape to pull off any of the available costumes. My family is talking about going as Justice League characters, and sadly, there is no DC equivalent to She-Hulk.

  5. Nice critique Rita! If Halloween is all about getting to put on a persona that we normally don’t get to try out on a regular basis, women certainly are limited indeed.

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