Halloween is a time for too much candy, for goofy good fun, trick or treating, dressing up and staying out late. It’s for the kids, right? It has nothing to do with sex, surely? Not any longer. Adults are increasingly using the Halloween holiday as the one night of the year when they unleash their innermost sexual fantasies, get out there, and strut their stuff. The original graveyard links to this festival whether they stemmed from the ancient Celtic rituals of Samhain, Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, or the concept of All Hallow’s Eve; when dead souls walked the earth, used to mean costumes were focused on all matters morbid – from ghosts and ghouls to skeletons, spectres and spooks. But this tradition has been all but lost as women especially go out wearing next to nothing in skimpy scanties that would make a Burlesque dance blush.
Halloween costume catalogues are now full of saucy outfits designed to show maximum flesh and use the minimum of fabric. This year’s best-sellers may not sound like turn-ons, but the Sexy Watermelon Slice sure is when you see where the bite has been taken out of it. Same with those other foodstuffs, not hitherto renowned for their capacity to act as aphrodisiacs, the Sexy Pizza and the Sexy Hamburger. These getups are tame compared to the Hardcore Pippi Longstocking, the S&M Ninja and the Spice Channel Ernie.
Time was, you could throw a sheet over your kid’s head, cut a couple of holes in it for eyes, and send them out into the neighborhood with their friends, knowing they’d happily consume their bodyweight in sugar, have fun and come home hyper but unharmed. Such innocent days are long gone.
Halloween has become too much about sex, and this comes all the way down to kiddy costumes as well. Many of the outfits on sale for little girls are overtly sexy, and for no good reason. Why does a pint-sized vampire need a corset? Or dinky high heels? Or a micro mini skirt? One retailer is selling an Oscar the Grouch for girls. What could be more harmless that the big fluffy green monster guy? Only this costume looks nothing like Oscar. It is a little dress accompanied by high heels, that would make any tot totter. Boys can still be pirates or stormtroopers if they like, but girls are increasingly all turning into little Lolitas.
It is sad but true that as parents everywhere worry more and more about the safety of letting the kids go out and have their fun, they are increasingly under pressure to dress them up in absurdly sexualised clothing. Some communities have even stopped trick or treating in the hours of darkness, and hold daylight sessions instead, suppressing the entire spirit of mischief and mayhem, in a bid to ensure their children are in controlled enclosures, and not prey to any real-life wierdos. Many schools have banned costumes because there is so much sensitivity over political correctness. Kids have always been cautioned about the possible dangers of Halloween, but now they are downright terrified to go out at all, unless under tight chaperone.
Meanwhile, the adults are taking over the territory for themselves, holding extravagant parties, going on all-night pub crawls and decorating the outside of their homes in fantastical light shows that out rival Christmas. Then they get dressed up. Or should that be undressed up. As the character Cady wryly observed in the hit movie Mean Girls : “Halloween is the one day a year when a girl can dress up like a total slut.”
While Sacha Baron-Cohen’s character of Borat did make a brief and remarkable impact into the world of men’s crazy costuming, with the triumph of his mankini, to be fair, it was not a sight for sore eyes on most members of the male population. Maybe it is for sound reasons that most of this sexy lingerie style posturing is in the women’s department, but the fact remains that it is a female focused stripping down that occurs on Halloween. None of the costumes for men are anything like as provocative or revealing. They don’t even get a “Sexy” page in the catalogue.
Is there something much more sinister going on here, than the leery grin on a Jack 0’Lantern? In a world where there is so much concern about the objectification of women and the way that girls in particular are forced to grow up too soon, why does Halloween sanction and celebrate the very things we get het up about the rest of the year? It is kind of scary.
In a startlingly insensitive revelation, some Halloween revellers have really caused offense by dressing as crew members of the Asiana Airlines flight that crashed at San Franciso airport in July. Three children lost their lives in the wreckage and 100 were injured. The costumes are tattered and covered in fake blood, but most controversially of all, they feature the racially tactless name tags that first came to light in a prank news item on KTVU TV and saw the end of the careers of the several newscasters who fell for it. Thus, the captain’s name badge reads “Capt. Wi Tu Lo” and crew have “Ho Lee Fuk” and “Sum Ting Wong.” This is pushing the boundaries of bad taste in an entirely different direction.
A lobby group calling themselves Take Back Halloween has formed with a website promoting more fully-clad female role models. Subtitled “A costume guide for women with imagination,” their no-sew ideas include icons like Frida Kahlo and Ada Lovelace. For Glamour Girls they have Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly. They want to take the “Sexy” tag away and make Halloween more meaningful again.
MTV have made some amusing costume choices for celebrities to tone down the over-exposure angle, proposing Miley Cyrus as an Amish wife. Like other commentators, they are protesting that Halloween has become just too much about sex and too little about a party for the youngsters. Is it time to give Halloween back to the children and for the adults to keep their clothes on?
By Kate Henderson