If there's one type of Halloween costume you can expect to see every year, it's that of the sexy variety. Over the years, we've seen our fair share of sexy nurses, cheerleaders, and Disney princesses. Heck, we've even seen sexy pizzas!
As Cady Heron from "Mean Girls" explained, "In the regular world, Halloween is when children dress up in costumes and beg for candy. In girl world, Halloween is the one night a year when girls can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it."
As a result, it's often debated whether or not it's OK for women, particularly feminists, to wear sexy costumes. After all, how can we be taken seriously if we're ~dripping~ in sex appeal, right?
Some would argue that wearing sexy costumes is demeaning as it allows for the objectification of women.
Some would argue that wearing sexy costumes is demeaning as it allows for the objectification of women, which is why feminists should be the last people wearing them. We beg to differ, so HuffPost Canada asked four Toronto women the age-old question: is it OK to be a sexy hot dog for Halloween if you're a feminist? To our pleasant surprise, their collective response was a resounding 'Hell yes!'
"Absolutely. I ultimately think that sexuality and being sexy can be super empowering," said filmmaker Adri N. "That's part of my brand of feminism, being empowered through my sexuality, and I think sexy Halloween costumes are entirely part of that."
There's absolutely nothing wrong with a woman or feminist dressing up sexy for Halloween. If that's what she feels good in, go for it girl!
Comedian Heather Macdonald agreed. "For sure, 1,000 per cent," she added. "The whole thing about feminism — and just being human — is wearing what you feel comfortable in, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with a woman or feminist dressing up sexy for Halloween. If that's what she feels good in, go for it girl!"
But while all the women we talked to agreed that women should be able to wear whatever they want, social worker Reshma Dhrodia pointed out that there is a structural issue when it comes to sexy Halloween costumes.
"If [women] want to express themselves in a particular way and Halloween is one of the times they can do it, there's no judgement there," she explained. "I think the issue is: do some women feel the pressure to dress sexy on Halloween because of the pressure for women to always look beautiful, sexy, attractive, and often very youthful in the most heteronormative way possible? The answer to me is yes."
I think the issue is: do some women feel the pressure to dress sexy on Halloween because of the pressure for women to always look beautiful?
Kate Fedchun, who works at a women's shelter, also noted that culturally appropriated costumes are another problem when it comes to dressing up for Halloween, whether the outfits are sexy or not.
"The ultimate feminist costume would just be for there to be no more bad costumes that culturally appropriate certain people or that make people feel bad," she said. "That would be ideal to see, but I don't think we're there yet."
Read on to hear more about what these four feminists think about sexy Halloween costumes.
Feminism means a lot to Kate Fedchun, who works as a counsellor and advocate at a local Toronto women's shelter.
"It's essential to the work that I do and it's the framework I use in my personal life as well," she explained. "So really what it means to me is fighting for women's rights, looking at intersectionality, recognizing injustice that folks experience all the time, and taking action on that both in my job and in my personal life."
On why it's OK for feminists to wear sexy costumes: "I think it's more than OK. I think that feminists have the right to express themselves however they want to, both on Halloween and in other situations. But I think, more importantly, women should have the right to express themselves sexually during Halloween and any time of year when they're trying to figure out their own sexuality or just want to feel sexy."
Women should have the right to express themselves sexually during Halloween and any time of year.
On why she's never worn a sexy costume: "I was never really a feminine person. And I was definitely worried about being objectified and going to a party and not having folks view me as intelligent or interesting or [view me in] any other way. So I think my struggle with Halloween is that I wouldn't look sexy due to expectations of women and maybe I wouldn't know how to do it the right way."
On who her feminist hero is: "Jane Doe from Toronto. She's someone who was sexually assaulted in a neighbourhood where a bunch of other women had already been assaulted. The police didn't give [the women] any warning about this guy who was picking similar women to assault. So she ended up taking on the Toronto police in court and received a formal apology from them. In the face of adversity she was able to advocate for her own needs and also the needs of other women, which I think is also the whole point of this movement that as feminists we all need to stick together and support each other and change the system together."
Although Adri N. learned about feminism in high school, it wasn't until Beyoncé released her song "Flawless," which featured writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, that she really began to identify with the term feminist.
"There's some spoken word in [the song] and she talks about the social-political-economic equality of the genders and the sexes and that's when I became more aware of what feminism is and I would think more on it," the 23-year-old filmmaker explained.
On why she loves to wear sexy costumes: "[They make] me feel empowered in my body and in my sexuality. I just think we're sexual beings and we don't need to be ashamed of that. In my third year [of university], I was a sexy Playboy bunny and then I was a sexy, gender-bending Harry Potter and then the year after I was a sexy Hermione Granger. So I have fully embraced the idea of sexy Halloween costumes as part of my life."
[Sexy costumes make] me feel empowered in my body and in my sexuality. I just think we're sexual beings and we don't need to be ashamed of that.
On how to handle derogatory comments: "First of all you have to evaluate your safety and check in with yourself on how safe it is to react because depending on the circumstance it can be unsafe. If you feel empowered and comfortable, then you should absolutely call that out. But again, that's if you feel safe. And if you don't feel safe, remove yourself from that space if that's something you're able to do."
On her Halloween costume this year: "Some super high-femme sexy goddess. I don't know if that's really a character but that's my idea for this Halloween. [I chose] a goddess because I feel like there's something powerful about that and how goddesses are depicted in mythology. They're powerful, they're strong, they're beings that you draw strength from and I want to be that."
Reshma Dhrodia, a Toronto social worker, has never worn a sexy costume for Halloween, unless you count the one time she dressed up as Morticia from "The Addams Family."
Instead, Dhrodia and her friends prefer to poke fun of the sexy genre, often joking that they should throw a Halloween party where everyone dresses sexy as "the most mundane shit, like sexy carrots."
On how sexy costumes can go too far: "I'm not interested in policing what women wear or do not wear. For me, what's disconcerting is when cultural appropriation and the whole sort of sexy genre meet in an unholy match-up. Like sexy 'native' and you're dressed in supposedly Indigenous-looking garb that is completely inauthentic, completely inappropriate and you're doing it because it's sexy or you're fulfilling some kind of fetish. Sexy geisha would be another example of the shit I've seen. Sexy "Arabian Nights" costumes as well. So I think that's another layer of [a] complex problem."
For me, what's disconcerting is when cultural appropriation and the whole sort of sexy genre meet in an unholy match-up.
On the women she looks up to most: "It's a particular context because I'm in post-breakup mode and these women are funny, feminist and fierce and they're all women of colour. So I would have to say Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams from 2 Dope Queens who are just killing it. It's empowering to listen to them. And Mindy Kaling. I'm South Asian myself and I had no idea she was around the corner. I always thought brown people were going to be portrayed as Apu from 'The Simpsons.' And while her character on 'The Mindy Project' is problematic and might not identify as feminist, I think Mindy Kaling herself is and I think in terms of her growth as both a person and a character on the show, there is a clear feminist evolutionary arch."
On the ultimate feminist costume: "There are so many empowering women out there who would be good. My friend is being a suffragist this year. I chose Xena, which is super empowering. I know a lot of people who have liked the painter Frida [Kahlo]. I mean if I could figure out how to be Missy Elliott, I would do it."
Heather Macdonald has a "You do you, girl" attitude when it comes to sexy Halloween costumes. In the past, she's dressed up in a wide variety of costumes, including a sexy pirate, and a character from 'The Craft,' and worn a unicorn onesie.
"Day-to-day for me, I just feel most comfortable in a baggy T-shirt and jeans so Halloween... it's so fun, it's like the one night where you can just do what you want," the 32-year-old comedian said.
On what feminism means to her: "I learned about feminism in high school. Feminism just means equality. It means women's rights are human rights and people's rights."
On having comebacks to derogatory comments: "Every situation is different. A lot of times when receiving comments of that nature, it's easy enough to be like, yeah, I would say 'Fuck you.' But when you're in those situations, sometimes it feels threatening and dangerous so it's not as easy said as it is done. Ideally, I'd love to be like, 'In your dreams fuck nut.' But there have been lots of times where it just doesn't feel safe enough to have a sassy comeback. So in the past I've just kind of kept my head down, walked faster, which is shitty, but that's still where we're at."
There have been lots of times where it just doesn't feel safe enough to have a sassy comeback.
On her feminist hero: "My mom. She's a boss. She's a massage therapist. She runs her own business. She's Japanese too, so she gets comments that are degrading to women and racist, and she's taught me how to stand up for myself, not listen to dumb shit and also teach people [when certain comments are] not OK."
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