30 October 2007

Skank It Up, Ladies!

So Teen Demon calls the other day from Value Village. For those shoppers not acquainted with funky chic, Value Village is a huge thrift store. Halloween is the one time of year when they also get new items in - costumes, tights, masks, hair paint, crowns, capes, sabers, you name it. They are Halloween Central for the bargain shopper.

Teen Demon went to procure a suitable Halloween costume to fest things up at her place of employment. She slings fish part time at a local fast food seafood joint.

Anyway, my phone rings:

Annoying T-Mobile jingle!

Me: Hello?

Teen Demon: So, I'm here at Value Village, and I can't find a costume.

Me: How can you possibly not find a costume at Value Village? They're the holy grail of costume outlets.

Teen Demon: Yeah, if you're a guy. The costumes for girls are either slutty or Goth. Or both. Yeah. It's like, I can be a French Maid, a nurse, or witch that basically looks like a prostitute. They're really skanky.

Me: Oh, that.

Teen Demon: They should just go ahead and make a costume called "Skank Ho".

Me: 'Tis the season to be skanky.

Teen Demon: Pretty much. The guys get all the cool costumes, and they can even stay warm in theirs. They have cool masks and hello, the costumes actually cover their arms and legs. This is stupid.

Me: Maybe get a guy costume?

Teen Demon: Yeah right, like I want to be Frankenstein. I just want a normal cute costume that's not a slutty. Maybe I'll just get a little kid's pumpkin or Raggedy Ann costume.
Photo from Post Secret, discovered by Teen Demon

She ended up getting a pirate costume, which was very cute. Still a bit alarming for her mother, but yes, I'm fully aware that's my issue, due to the fact that she's flippin' gorgeous and a burlap sack would still look too good on her in her mother's opinion. Yeah, whatever, shut up -- you try having a daughter who looks like Teen Demon and see how long you hold onto that progressive and open-minded attitude. Those nasty boys circle around like jackals eyeing a kill. What's good for the goose is definitely not good for the gosling here, people. Not until she's 30.

Her costume was good though, very piratey. Her pseudo-Aunt, (previously referred to here as either My Bitch or that cynical Sicilian lurker) lent her some above-the-knee lace up leather boots that went perfectly with it - she looked great.

Of course, those boots have seen more stories than you'll ever find out about on this blog. I am not even joking. But that's another story. (Start a blog, you lurker.)

So it got me thinking about Halloween costumes and the whole gender thing. That's right, kids! We're hopping back on board the gender train! Halloween costumes are very different for men and women. It's like the costume makers are saying, "Hey gals, now that inner slutty girl we you secretly want you to be can come out with no repercussions!"

And actually ... there's nothing wrong with that. I'm not here to get all Taliban about sexy costumes. Nothing wrong with feeling hot. I think a lot of women appreciate the occasional excuse to indulge in slutting it up a bit. Yours truly included. What's more fun than Halloween in a mini skirt, knee-high black boots, and a cat tail? Meow.

What's not OK is when it becomes an expectation rather than an option.

It's not so fun when 9 out of 10 "girl costumes" at the costume mega-store involve you displaying your wares, when you're not about displaying them. Especially when the "guy costumes" actually show some creativity and imagination. And keep them warm.

Some of the names, too, just scream MALE FANTASY! Like Fallen Angel just above, with the black Goth wings. And hot boots. The witch up at the top of the page? Candy Corn Witch. Yummy! And this little lady to your right is not a Pirate, oh no, not even a Lady Pirate. No sir, this here's the Captain's Wench, maties. Ruffled, for his pleasure.
Oh, and who do we have here? Why, it's the Heavenly Devil! Madonna-Whore, anyone? *Yawn* Some imagination please, guys.
As a mother of teenaged girls, I must admit that Sexy Scholar down there causes me to morph into a downright prude. And Cowbell is not usually about the prudery. Come on guys, don't you have nieces or daughters? I don't know why the school girl fantasy is such a big one. Grown women too intimidating? The lure of flesh unspoiled by rivals too appealing? Or is your ego loving the fact that - since she doesn't know what she's doing - she'll think you're a sex god? If it's that whole Daddy figure thing, seriously, go get therapy, dude. Yes, 15 is a child.

And I won't even go into how all the models here are young skinny blonde white chicks. Oh, I take that back - Heavenly Devil is a young skinny brunette white chick. My bad. You can bet that my ass is not squeezing into one of those costumes, that's for damn sure. Somehow I doubt that the Candy Corn Witch costume has the same effect in a one-size-fits-all version.

I was talking to the Radical Bohemian about it on the phone, and she brought up an excellent point: guy costumes are about anonymity. Guy costumes mask the wearer, literally.

Guy costumes are also largely about power or fear. Monsters, psychos, superheroes, prisoners, muscle men, biker dudes, pirates, wizards ... characters that allow men to feel powerful or to inspire fear or respect in others. Anonymously.
Women's costumes, by contrast, are not anonymous, they are about revealing us. They are not about power, they are about availability and packaging us up in a way that appeals to typical male fantasies.

Sexy costumes and scary costumes are both fun, in different ways. So why not spread the love?

Costume manufacturers: more imaginitive - and warm - costumes for women that do not revolve around your fantasies, please. And try to not to be too disappointed when I want a scary costume that covers me from head to toe. And more sexy costumes for the mens, please. Can we get just some options and equity when tricking and treating? Is that so much to ask?

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