Lilly’s Blog: The Real Reason Girls Wear Sexy Costumes on Halloween
Lately, the blogs have been all atwitter (some metaphors are meant to be mixed) about Halloween, but I think one important point has not been addressed. We can all agree that the overwhelming majority of costumes offered to young women are hyper sexualized. But no one talks about what I think is the most important reason girls wear sexy costumes.
Simply put, girls don’t like looking silly. Just like college counseling offices are where sanity goes to die, girls check silliness at the middle school door. I was a pretty silly girl back in the day, but in middle school I felt like I had to be cool at all times. So my female peers and I stopped doing or saying anything goofy. Goofy is the antithesis to cool, whatever that means anyway.
Thankfully, I went to the Girls Leadership Institute and got my groove back, but that’s a whole other blog post. Few girls escape the pressure to be cool and therefore “normal;” I certainly still feel it. And the best way to convince people the book is cool is to have a cool cover. What girls wear becomes an important symbol. Ever wonder why teenage girls dress pretty similarly? There’s safety in numbers. If you wear what everyone else is wearing you’ll blend in and maybe, if you’re lucky, someone will even mistake you for one of the cool kids. Girls forgo being silly in order to be cool.
Halloween seems like the perfect opportunity to allow yourself to be silly and dust off that Scooby Doo costume you wore in fourth grade (it seemed look like a good idea at the time). You can wear something ridiculous because everyone will know it’s a costume, and they won’t judge you, right? Not so much.
“Cool” doesn’t take vacations. You either are cool 24/7 or you aren’t. Unfortunately, Scooby Doo isn’t considered cool. But sexy Scooby, now that’s a keeper. I’m not a huge fan of sexy costumes, but let’s be serious, a cat outfit is far more flattering than an inflatable Hershey’s kiss costume. An absurdly skimpy costume is infinitely cooler than a costume that’s just absurd.
Why it’s cool to be a sexy referee, I’m not really sure. But rather than becoming caught up in the specifics of what girls wear on Halloween, we should focus on why girls who know better still bend under the pressure. A lot of girls I talk to understand why the choices offered to them are offensive (and downright impractical. October nights are cold!). Yet these smart girls still end up wearing skimpy costumes. When push comes to shove, being cool trumps listening to the voice that is critical of the costumes.
A lot of girls understand, and agree with, their parents’ concerns regarding costumes. But they are paralyzed by the constant need to be cool. They cannot go to the party dressed as an astronaut because they can’t risk looking dorky. Girls think they can’t look goofy, even for one day, because silly and cool just don’t mix, and being cool is important.
I always had trouble choosing a costume. I debated wearing a creative, unique costume versus wearing the same thing as everyone else. Past dilemmas include lunch lady vs. mouse, Rosie the Riveter vs. a celebrity. I am ashamed to say I never had the courage to wear a costume I really loved because my instincts, when it comes to costumes, and just about anything else, are rarely cool. Until this year, being cool seemed more important.
I am happy to say that this year, my friends and I have an amazingly un-cool costume; we’re dressing up as the monsters from Where the Wild Things Are. I’m sort of scared I’m going to look painfully silly or that no one will “get” it. Wearing a silly costume that’s probably more suited for a seven year old than a seventeen year old is a little nerve-wracking. And I know most people won’t think our costumes are cool. Giving up cool, even just for a day, is frightening. But it’s Halloween. Why not do something scary?
Join me this Halloween and release your inner dork!
This post originally appeared in October 2009.