Women's Issues

If You’re Berating Women For Dressing Sexy On Halloween, You’re Not A Feminist

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If an adult woman wants to dress up in a skimpy Halloween costume, more power to her. The constant ridicule and shaming women face during this holiday season is absurd. It’s particularly disturbing when it’s from other women. There’s nothing progressive or feminist about berating adults for something as silly as what they decide to wear on Halloween.

From Feministe:

It almost, but doesn’t entirely, take the fun out of Halloween–the pressure to be Sexy, when all you really want to be is funny or clever or scary. And from a feminist perspective, it throws the entire movement back about 50 years, to a time when a Playboy Club-style Dirty Cop was more generally accepted than an actual female cop on the actual street.

That’s just one example of the many, many, many articles on the topic. I agree that no one should be made to wear anything they don’t want to. But if a woman chooses to dress as a sexy cop or a Playboy Bunny she is not throwing the entire feminist movement back 50 years. I’m usually a fan of hyperbole, but that is just ridiculous.


It’s yet another aspect of life that women have way worse than men. Halloween is supposed to be fun. It’s supposed to be fantasy. Why should there be limitations on what is deemed “okay” for women to wear? Why do so many people feel comfortable throwing the word “slutty” around during this holiday? Why are so many of those people women? What happened to the sisterhood? I’m a feminist and I think boobs are great. If you want to show your damn cleavage or wear thigh-high stockings because you can, go on with your bad self.

I’m not saying that some of the costumes out there aren’t ridiculous. Sexy Spongebob? Sexy Olaf? What I’m saying is, who cares? The never ending loop of shame we are exposed to during this month is just ridiculous. Make is stop. I was a bartender for years and I donned a sexy costume or two. No one showed up to revoke my feminist card. I made it through okay.




My biggest problem with most of these outfits is that they are expensive and super cheaply made. Apart from that — there are plenty of options if you don’t want to show a bunch of skin or leave the house in what is tantamount to lingerie. But if you do, put your garters on and have some fun. You won’t be getting the side-eye from me.

(photo: Avesun/ Shutterstock)


  1. Alanna Jorgensen

    October 2, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    I agree! I just lost 55 lbs in the last year and a half and this is first year EVER in my life that I’m considering showing a little skin.

    • LA Face, Oakland Booty (and

      October 3, 2014 at 7:49 am

      Do it! Show ALL the skin (or rather, the amount of the skin that makes you feel comfortable).

    • OptimusPrime*

      October 2, 2014 at 4:05 pm

      I wish I could upvote this a million times.

    • Katherine Handcock

      October 2, 2014 at 4:32 pm

      I love that comic!

    • Aimee

      October 2, 2014 at 5:09 pm

      I love Rosalarian and her art and her everything so much!

    • RhianFloreykum

      October 3, 2014 at 12:46 am

      my Aunty Alexandra recently got a new white Chrysler 200 Convertible only from working part time online.hop over to this website WORK AT HOME

    • Emil

      October 2, 2014 at 7:29 pm

      I could not love this more!

  2. Lindsay

    October 2, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    I just don’t understand the sexy costume thing because, here in Jersey, it’s fucking COLD on October 31st. If you don’t mind freezing to death, go for it.

    • rockmonster

      October 2, 2014 at 4:55 pm

      Iowa’s the same way.It’s fine indoors, but when you go outside, you better be wearing layers. Brrrr.

    • Ezzy666

      October 2, 2014 at 7:50 pm

      I live i Las Vegas and it is still hot as hell. Fetish and Fantasy ball used to be fun and then stopped allowing body paint as costumes about 8 years ago. People complained about children seeing and won. Nobody ever shows up until after midnight.

  3. candyvines

    October 2, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    No problems here with how grown women want to dress on Halloween, or ever. But I do hate that the costumes for very young girls through teens are becoming more and more revealing what seems like every year.

    • Katherine Handcock

      October 2, 2014 at 4:32 pm

      Came here to say exactly this. When I researched Halloween costumes for A Mighty Girl this year I found “Major Flirt” and “Flirty Devil” in size 3T. Yes, you heard me. For 3 year olds.

    • candyvines

      October 2, 2014 at 4:35 pm


    • Amber Starr

      October 2, 2014 at 9:33 pm


      That made my head hurt.

    • EX

      October 2, 2014 at 9:57 pm

      Yep. Very glad my 3 year old wants to be a minion.

    • SunnyD847

      October 2, 2014 at 5:25 pm

      Yes! I hate the the “sexy everything” trend has filtered down to teen, then tween, and now toddler girls. My girls are small and thin and not very developed and the costumes are too small and revealing for them (they are not comfortable wearing them.)

    • ted3553

      October 2, 2014 at 6:12 pm

      I tried to find a costume for my stepdaughter when she was 15. Unless she was a prisoner, everything else barely covered her booty. We ended up with a bee costume that she had to wear shorts under. Manufacturers- not every single costume has to be the sexy version.

    • 2Well

      October 2, 2014 at 9:02 pm

      This is where a little ingenuity comes into play. I went to a church party at 15, and I wasn’t allowed a “scary” costume. Oddly enough, I was one of few who dressed up. I bought kids’ wings, wore black long sleeves and black pants, did some really pretty glittery and intricate makeup, and went as a butterfly.

      I was raggedy Ann for marching band one year (it had to be a costume we could march in.)

      I’ve been a time traveler and a Facebook stalker. With those, part of the fun for me was other people being confused as to what I was

    • Fred Bastiat

      October 2, 2014 at 8:10 pm

      I’d double plus your comment if allowed. Really sad that we’re sexualizing children and frankly sometimes a form of assault. Sexual self is already fraught with difficulty without parents and society pressing adult ideas and themes on children. Comment in your thread noted sexualized costumes for ages as young as three years old. I cringe to think about what’s next.

    • SarahJesness

      October 3, 2014 at 3:42 am

      My main issue is how totally lame a lot of those costumes are. Like, I was looking at a comparison page for the boys and girls Spongebob costumes. Boys get an actual square costume, girls get a generic minidress with Spongebob printed on it. Something you could probably wear any time of the year, not just Halloween. How lame is that?

  4. Personal

    October 2, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    I wonder what it says about me that, once again, I am going to be a cow.

    • Aldonza

      October 3, 2014 at 2:16 am

      I made a sexy cow outfit one year. And by sexy cow I mean I wore a cow costume, and then over that put a short skirt, crazy boots and big hoop earrings. It was one of my favorite costumes ever.

  5. Kate Spencer

    October 2, 2014 at 4:10 pm

  6. Amber Leigh Wood

    October 2, 2014 at 4:18 pm


    I’m bad at gifs so I hope that worked

  7. Alex

    October 2, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    If exposed boobs are so distracting when presented/exposed by a sexy costume, all the other women still have the full freedom and right to avert their eyes and look away.

  8. Katherine Handcock

    October 2, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    I 100% agree with the first sentence of the quote, and then it goes downhill. I’m personally not a fan of sexy costumes, but if you want to wear it, whatever. But I do find that there’s a degree of pressure to pick a sexy costume if you’re going to dress up as an adult woman, and that does bother me, especially because there isn’t for adult men who dress up.

    Incidentally, at least at the stores near me, it is actually easier usually to find the sexy adult woman (and teen and tween girl) costumes than the non-sexy ones. Not to say you can’t, just it gets harder.

    • guest

      October 2, 2014 at 5:00 pm

      I stopped doing to sexy thing after I got married and noticed that the people we frequented parties with were basically in a who can be the most risque competition. I didn’t want to wear a costume just to show more boob than the next girl. I also really admired my friend who always made her own amazing costumes each year and didn’t care that they were mostly dude costumes. So I decided to do my own thing and our first year married I went as Darth Vader.
      That being said, I don’t care if someone dresses sexy on Halloween because when I did it was fun and not a competition… I just don’t want people to feel like they can only dress as a “sexy fill in the blank” instead of just “whatever they want to be for Halloween”

    • SunnyD847

      October 2, 2014 at 5:41 pm

      We have a friend who is a DJ and event planner in SF who throws epic Halloween parties every year. One year a lot of girls were doing the Britney Spears sexy school girl look. As the night went on it seemed like the skirts got shorter and the tops got smaller until we saw a girl in a plaid ruffled g-string and a bra, plus the knee socks and pig-tails of course. It just gets to the point where it’s not fun or creative or even a costume anymore. “Sexy” is the whole description.

    • Fred Bastiat

      October 2, 2014 at 8:19 pm

      Sounds like you have your own mind and know that you have a choice, if only more would just make that simple acknowledgment.

      Societal Pressure =/= No Choice

      I just took my daughter to Toronto FanExpo and got introduced to CosPlay. Some of it was exactly as you described, a competition to show the most skin. But ALOT of young women, in fact, most young women just went their own way with great costumes that didn’t focus on sexualization. The craftsmanship was amazing, not to mention the ideas, taking male themes and doing a female version. Combining characters and themes. Really a treat to see it.

  9. Her Vajesty

    October 2, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    Calling a woman a slut is never acceptable, but the problem with “choice feminism” is that it rarely acknowledges the fact that ultimately, we don’t have a whole lot of choices. If you like dressing up like that, that’s great and I truly don’t give a fuck, but it’s not really a balanced discussion if you won’t acknowledge the fact that women are pretty much expected to exist for a straight man’s sexual pleasure 24/7. When there are shitloads of other costume choices for girls being mass produced and widely accepted, we can call this a choice. Until then, it’s really just a privilege for the women who happen to enjoy dressing up like that.


    • Ezzy666

      October 2, 2014 at 7:47 pm

      I’ve always made my own costumes. (by make i mean destroy a cheap dress our outfit) And I very comfortable with being naked and close to naked. I end up showing more than the sexy costumes sold. My best costume was about 10 years ago I was just some random dead person. People kept asking me if I needed hospital care and a couple of EMTs stopped their ambulance to get me to the hospital.

    • 2Well

      October 2, 2014 at 8:55 pm

      I throw together my own since becoming a person with the means to do so.

      In fact, I just came up with a neat idea for this year.

    • Fred Bastiat

      October 2, 2014 at 8:14 pm

      So don’t act as you think is expected and act as you want. Nobody is forcing you. Make your own costumes, choice. The world does not exist to make all choices easy.

    • Her Vajesty

      October 2, 2014 at 8:37 pm

      Salient point, Fred. The world exists to make all choices easier for men. How could I forget?


  10. Kids, huh

    October 2, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    I take issue with the sexy costumes. That’s not true. I’ve worn some sexy costumes in my day. What I do take issue with is that the available costumes for women are pretty much relegated to sexy, giant body suit, or homemade. (BTW my home made Poison Ivy costume last year consisted of a corset, a mini skirt, some tulle, and some leaves, so homemade doesn’t necessarily mean non-sexy) it’s just that there are VERY few choices for women.

    It has never occurred to me to be pissed at the women who buy the sexy Olaf costume for this… I think it’s a cultural issue. And the fact that a woman buys one of the few options available to her and is then called slutty for daring to step out in it is another symptom of rape culture.

  11. Victoria

    October 2, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    That article is from 2011, why respond to it now? And it’s kind of taking it out of context, considering the point is that it’s almost impossible to find a non-sexy women’s costume these days and there are sexy versions of things that don’t need to be (and maybe never should be) sexy. Like Sexy Brownie Scout (If my memory from my girl scout days is not mistaken, Brownies are first and second graders.) My point being the article, from where I stand, appears to be attacking this culture of only making sexy costumes for women and then packages it as “more empowering than crashing through the glass ceiling or defending yourself against your would-be rapist”, not for the women who wear them.


    Also, everything Her Vajesty said. By all means, choose your choice, but don’t forget that it happens in a particular context, one that is not remotely friendly to women.

  12. LeggEggTorpedoTits

    October 2, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    I’m not offended by the costumes, just the BIMBOS that WEAR THEM!

    Just kidding. If you’re wearing what you want and you’re happy and pleased then you’re totally a feminist. It’s about not letting people “fix” you to fit their standards.

  13. Fred Bastiat

    October 2, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    “There’s nothing progressive or feminist about berating adults for something as silly as what they decide to wear on Halloween.”

    While I appreciate the main assertion of the article and grow weary of slut shaming. It is frightening to constantly see progressivism and feminism so tightly entwined. They should be opposing philosophies as you can’t have equality under the law and progressive policies, they are antithesis.

  14. Blueathena623

    October 2, 2014 at 9:12 pm

    Choices are only true choices if all options are equally viable and have equal support. No, don’t call women sluts, but yes, examine why there has been such a push for sexy costumes. Are all these womens honestly thinking “I understand there is societal pressure for women to compete for men’s attention by looking sexy, but I am going to be a sexy Scooby Doo for my own pleasure.” I think we also need to look at why so many women, on a night you are allowed to dress up and be whatever you want, choose to be sexy. Why is overt sexuality only ok as a costume?

    • SarahJesness

      October 3, 2014 at 3:49 am

      I dress sexy for Halloween. Of course, the novelty is lost on me now that I’m in college and can wear crop tops and short shorts every day. But I guess it might be different for other girls. I already bought my sexy astronaut costume (though calling it a sexy astronaut is kind of redundant cause what astronaut ISN’T sexy?) but I find it doesn’t really have the same thrill as wearing the skimpy outfit in high school. Maybe I’ve just grown past that, or maybe it’s because I’m at a point where I dress in skimpy outfits all during spring and summer without care of what other people think.

      Regardless, it does kind of suck that it can be hard to find options other than “sexy”. It can be difficult for girls and women who want to go to school or work events where sexy costumes might not be allowed or acceptable. And it would be tough for anyone who doesn’t want something sexy, but still wants to dress up.

  15. E

    October 2, 2014 at 11:49 pm

    I like dressing sexy on Halloween. I dress very conservatively in my day to day- I’m a kindergarten teacher, so most of my clothes are jeans, conservative blouses and flats (and okay, a few crop tops for out of work time). Halloween is a time when I get to put the teacher clothes away and be a little extra sexy. Plus, I’m obsessed with pin ups from the 1940s, so it’s my chance to play with my hair and makeup and get it in that style.

    I don’t feel like my choice is an affront to feminism, because it’s my choice- I’m not doing it because society tells me I have to, I feel like being sexy so I’m gonna do it, and I feel like being able to make the choice I want is what feminism is.

  16. Frannie

    October 3, 2014 at 10:44 am

    I don’t care what a grown adult wears for Halloween. What I take issue with is sexy children’s costumes. That shit needs to stop, like yesterday.

  17. Heather

    October 3, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    The quote you pulled didn’t say at all what you interpreted it as saying. Nowhere in the quote did it say that women dressing sexy was throwing feminism back 50 years. It said the PRESSURE to have a sexy costume instead of a funny, clever, or scary costume is what throws it back. The not having a choice when you go to the store. The being inundated when the halloween party store commercial comes on and the men are covered head to toe in gorilla costumes and the women are in a tutu and a thong with some wings on. THAT is what the problem is, not that some people choose to have sexy costumes.

  18. Pingback: Plus-Sized Halloween Costumes

  19. Savannah Leigh

    October 30, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    Well, if a woman is dressing up sexy as her own personal choice without regard to male gaze or pressures limited choices, yes, power to her. If she is dressing up for any other reason than she wants to, then that might be reason to be cautious.

  20. eardley johnson

    October 9, 2020 at 5:27 am

    2020, and the different waves of feminism are still having the same ideological fight.
    right now, especially in the USA, there should only be 1 fight that all feminists need to be having. getting rid of the orange crook in the Whitehouse, and making sure that the Dems win back both the House and the Senate. if they don’t, you can start looking forward to a real-life handmaids tale!

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