Sexualization of Halloween costumes is limiting to women

Caroline Lozano/ Assistant Opinion Director

For many people, Halloween is the best holiday of the year. And honestly, I can see why. No other time is more appropriate for spooky stories, scary movies, pumpkin carving contests, and of course, dressing up and going out with friends for a night of candy-filled fun.

Costumes, whether for men or women, have remained a crucial aspect of celebrating the holiday sometimes even if you’re just staying in and handing out candy. The practice offers people a chance to publicly express themselves and their interests in a creative way without any shame involved.

At least, that’s the idealistic view I hold on Halloween costumes. Nowadays, there seems to be a consistent trend of sexualizing women’s costumes and it’s pretty scary.

While men have costumes that allow them to be truly frightening, funny, powerful, or career-oriented, women’s costumes tend to be much more limited. They revolve around that same high-heeled, sexy vixen kind of look regardless of whether or not the original character is supposed to be scary.


And yes, career-oriented women’s costumes do exist, but it’s not held to the same standards as men’s costumes. Apart from objectifying women, it reinforces the idea that women shouldn’t be taken seriously in the professions depicted.

For instance, a common career-oriented woman’s costume like the policewoman is often portrayed with an open cleavage, a short skirt, jewelled handcuffs and a suggestive pose. Female doctor and nurse costumes are also portrayed similarly, each with their own alluring characteristics, as opposed to showing them as capable professionals.

The problem also extends to teenagers, preteens and younger girls, as many costumes for each of these demographics are becoming more and more sexualized every year.

This in turn, limits the eventual exploration, acceptance and pride of their bodies as they are taught to be the objects of men’s pleasures.

One study found that “the more 11- to 15-year-old girls internalize the importance of being sexually attractive to boys, the more they wear tight clothing and skin- and cleavage-revealing clothing,” according to Dallas News.

The study also found that girls with high levels of sexualization also demonstrated higher rates of body shame.

It isn’t that I’m against sexy costumes. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look cute or showing off your body. A woman should be able to dress how she wants without being objectified by others and slut-shamed.   

What irks me is the lack of choice in women’s costumes because it denotes the idea that women can exist for a man’s viewing pleasure and nothing else. There’s no choice but to be a sexy or cute witch or pirate because that’s most of what’s being offered in stores.

If most women’s costumes continue to be just “sexy” or “sassy,” especially if the character is supposed to be scary, then what would be the point of wearing a costume?

It shouldn’t be difficult for women to have a variety of costumes to choose from. Just like men have the option to be scary or powerful, women should have these same options as well. With all the awareness being spread about the objectification of women and the like, this trend needs to end soon.



The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of Panther Press Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.


Photo taken from Flickr.

About the Author

Caroline Lozano
Caroline Lozano is a senior pursuing a Bachelor's degree in English. She enjoys writing, reading, traveling, listening to music (especially The Beatles), attending cons, and watching movies/shows on Netflix. One of her goals is to become an accomplished writer of novels and short stories. Caroline is also fluent in Spanish.

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