The University of Iowa University of Iowa

10/22: Halloween Costumes


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By Jennifer Hoch

All Hallow’s Eve. Today, our country associates this fun-filled holiday with dressing up, trick-or-treating, ghosts, goblins, and much more. Halloween is said to have originated from the 16th century, representing the Scottish name. One all-puzzling factor of the holiday is what it has been turned into in the costume industry. It is no question that girls use this night to dress up as scandalously as they wish, having an excuse to do so.  Dressing up in the least amount of clothing possible has become traditional through the costume companies’ variations of a “slutty nurse,” “french maid,” “sexy cowgirl,” or “bad-cop.” When girls are deciding between what costumes to wear, they are influenced by their friend’s decisions and feel pressure to dress in the same way.

One of the rising issues in this matter is the age that girls choose to wear these shocking costumes. When little girls see that their elders and role models are displaying themselves in this type of risky way, they feel the need to display themselves in a similar manner. While Halloween continues to be a time of fun filled spooks we are left in question of how much is too much.

These types of costumes do not teach children about equality or self-worth, but rather about being uncomfortable in order to fit into these portrayed gender roles. Girls are aware that they will turn more heads wearing only a skimpy dress over a Shrek costume. 

As women’s status in society evolves, we must question the type of roles that are being portrayed at times. By dressing up in close to nothing, women are reaffirming the roles that they have worked so hard to get rid of.

An important factor in Halloween costume planning is the ongoing censorship of costumes that has stemmed from wanting to be seen as political correct. Children are told what not to wear, such as an Indian, hobo, or gypsy. There seem to be very few costumes these days that allow girls to dress up as doctors or politicians without taking a scandalous route. Young girls turn to what they are offered, such as a princess or a witch, which makes one question the kinds of messages that are being instilled in our youth. Some of the spookiness of Halloween is taken away due to parents allowing their children from a limited menu of options.

So this year, when you begin to celebrate the festivities, think about the subliminal messages that current Halloween costumes have to offer. Remember the original purpose of Halloween and most importantly, have fun!

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