Scantily-clad women, strut without shame

Amanda Irons
Amanda Irons

To quote the cinematic extension of my existence that is “Mean Girls,” “Halloween is the one night a year when girls can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.”

For the rest of the world, Halloween may stir thoughts of free candy, pumpkin spice lattes and the Disney Channel movie “Hocus Pocus.” But in girl world, Halloween is a perfectly acceptable reason to utilize your do-it-yourself skills and dress up in ridiculously lavish costumes, with hair and makeup fixed in a way Pinterest users dream about.

Somewhere along the path of human existence, women have adapted this standard of dressing scantily for Halloween. Sporting costumes that use sparse amounts of fabric and excessive amounts of glitter, women seem to have the impeccable ability to turn everyday occurrences into fiercely sexual costumes. One year I even witnessed a scandalous Dora the Explorer. It seems that to push the limits of what is expected, my female peers are pushing the limits of public indecency.

Confronting this pattern year after year, I hear the same banter about how women are degrading themselves by dressing this way. It’s always the same painful comments. People claim this sort of display invites unwanted attention and that women should have more respect for themselves.victororian slut

At the same time, there is an unspoken girl-world code that for this night — or series of nights: you cannot call out another girl on her creative stretch of how a witch would dress. On these nights, crazy outfits get a free pass. Let your freak flag fly, ladies.

However, the argument arises: where do Halloween costumes stand on a scale between empowering and degrading?

The feminist heart that beats inside my chest overwhelmingly supports the idea that men and women alike shouldn’t be objectified for the clothes they wear. That even if I go out in cowboy boots, purple underwear, matching purple nipple pasties and a cowboy hat, I still deserve the same level of respect as if I were in jeans and an oversized sweatshirt. Clothes shouldn’t dictate how people treat one another.

On the other hand, I’m a perfectly reasonable person. I understand that it is hard to take someone seriously when they wear next to nothing and cat ears.

But maybe I’m looking at this from the wrong angle.

As it comes time to pick Halloween costumes, we should abandon the temptation to pass judgment on one another. Not necessarily because it’s the right thing to do or because it will lead to world peace, but because it really doesn’t matter what you have to say about another person’s fun. It takes more effort to pick out someone else’s flaws than it does to simply sit back and enjoy the evening.

When these conversations do arise — which always have and presumably always will — they shouldn’t touch the spellbinding fun that is Halloween. If you have the confidence to strut down Ivy Street in glorified lingerie dressed as your favorite sexy-whatever, more power to you.

It takes courage to embrace your sexuality, to put yourself out there in a way that people feel you shouldn’t. Men and women of Chico State, this year I encourage you to let your hair down. Desert the norms that you have to dress like a conservative cowgirl to remain a respectable person. Stand up for each other and skip the negative commentary. Look past the politics of what you should do and start doing what you want to do. It’s Halloween. Use your Mean Girls-inspired, girl code-enforced, judgment-free pass on the only night of the year that it is absolutely accepted.

It’s wearisome to constantly consider the opinions of others. Live your life confidently and work it, girl.


Amanda Irons can be reached at [email protected] or @Amanda_Irons on Twitter.

Illustration by Liz Coffee.