Halloween Costume Controversies
Fall is in the air, and with that comes a holiday anticipated by both children and adults across Salem: Halloween. Malls all over town have been invaded by costume and decoration vendors. Stores like Spirit Halloween and Hot Topic have been flooded with new merchandise to sell for the holiday. While Halloween is meant to be a time for dressing up and being something that one is not, some Salemites have noticed differences between male costumes and female costumes that could be interpreted as unfair and degrading to certain individuals.
Spirit Halloween, a store that comes to Salem annually between late September and October, sells Halloween merchandise and costumes. According to their website, the store sells “sexy adult costumes” as well as “funny,” “family friendly,” and “scary costumes.” Categories range from super hero/villain to cartoon characters, as well as characters from popular movies such as “Suicide Squad.” Many Oregonians go to this store for their seasonal needs. However, some customers feel that the store’s costumes are offensive.
“I actually stopped shopping at one of my favorite Halloween stores, Spirit Halloween, because I saw that they had a ‘savage seductress’ costume, which was a Native American costume that was ridiculously sexualized,” Andy Chilcote ‘18 said.
The use of portraying different ethnicities for the use of Halloween merriment, as done at Spirit Halloween, has upset other South students as well. Many find the representations of cultures put forth by these stores as inaccurate and disrespectful to people of different cultural backgrounds. In the past, Mexicans, Indians, Egyptians, and Middle Easterners have also been made subjects for Halloween dress-up.
“My least favorite [Halloween costumes] are the ones that offend certain traditions and certain cultures. I know a lot of Indian costumes and a lot of foreigner costumes are taken that way,” Kayden Ward ‘18 said.
Students at South also claim to find the costumes aimed towards women this time of year “over sexualized.” Some have noticed that in comparison to men’s costumes, women’s costumes are more gaged towards looking “sexy”. Many believe that the revealing nature of some of these costumes force women into sexist societal roles that are viewed as degrading.
“A lot of the women’s costumes tend to have more revealing aspects of it and are more sexualized, whereas men’s costumes are more covered,” Faith Bartolo ‘18 said.
Men’s costumes have also appeared to have fallen into the category of societal expectations. Consumers have found that men’s costumes are created to be more “masculine” and generally portray figures in “hero” roles, such as comic book characters and military officers. Other types of men’s costumes have also been known to accentuate the scarier side of Halloween, including a lot of gore and blood.
“There are a lot of sexist roles. For women or girls, there’s like princesses and that kind of thing, whereas for guys there are a lot more superheroes and they don’t really have very many unisex costumes. It’s mainly just a specific girl costume or a guy costume, and they usually make it extremely feminine or muscular and “manly,” Madison Lawrence ‘18 said.
With Halloween quickly approaching, many of these controversies will influence the costume selection process of consumers.