Halloween. It seems that every year, we’re talking about the same things–cultural appropriation and sexist costume choices. This year is no different.
Recently, Buzzfeed published a post titled “21 ‘Sexy’ Halloween Costumes That Should Never Have Been Made.” The compiled costumes run the gamut from sexy bacon to a sexy shower to a sexy environmentalist to sexy Chinese takeout. It’s all quite ridiculous (and the last one falls into the ‘racist’/’cultural appropriation’ category, as on the website, the costume is tagged under ‘geisha costumes’ but I digress).
Sometimes I wonder why this conversation happens every year and nothing seems to change, but clearly people are still buying the costumes, whether it’s to satirize them or because they actually find them to be cute and clever.
Going back to The Codes of Gender, aside from the costumes themselves, the poses of the women are very similar to those that Sut Jhally describes in the film. The poses of the women are all very open–many of them have their arms out to their sides or up in the air. In the case of the sexy hamburger, her pose very much seems to suggest the idea that “if you want it, come get it.” Most of the women are smiling, overly happy to be wearing these costumes. The women who do not smile wear suggestive expressions (fingers in mouths or a sultry stare, with the exception of the sexy pig. Her expression isn’t visible). These stand in off-kilter poses, many of which seem unnatural, with their knees slightly bent.
These costumes are for women, but are the images truly selling to women? Or is it more like the idea of replacement–“if you buy this, you can look like me”?