Nancy Drew and the Missing Abracadabra: A Halloween Rant

ea5e7f6c7b25c4e0a62f607ccea409e5There is a building down the street, white brick with cheap black window coverings, that plays host to terror. It’s not the zombies that bother me, mind you, as I believe the undead are unfairly besmirched by the living media. No, it’s something altogether more frightening. I am being haunted by the polyester impostors of Halloween present. There is evil in the Halloween Shoppe’s costume section and it must be destroyed.

Shockingly, I’m not talking about sexy costumes. While I think it’s a disgrace that Halloween has been reduced to a night when women are expected to expose our goodies to the cold, October chill, that’s well trod (hallowed) ground. We have a bigger problem. It’s not that we are overrun with sexy costumes, friends, it’s that we are deprived of interesting, well-made costumes at all. We don’t have any other options than sexy and, even those, are not truly sexy at all.

I want to stand next to a lightbulb, without fear of melting! I want to enter a costume store and have legitimate terrifying, gorgeous, or alluring costume choices! Why have we let Halloween descend into a night of cheap, ill-fitting suggestions of costume? This most wonderful of holidays, when a girl can dress up anything she delights in, has become one big avalanche of poorly made, poorly fitting, polyester swill that should never touch human flesh in the first place. We look cheap, darlings, whether or not we give into being Sexy Funshine Bear or not.

If I had any start-up capital whatsoever, I’d go into business selling one thing: well-made, fabulous costumes for women. When a woman wants to be scary for Halloween, she doesn’t want a plastic spider glued to a high school graduation robe, she wants realistic blood and an eerily deconstructed confection of gown. That Marie Laveau turban is so terrifyingly lovely, Hillary! Sure, we have our pick of supposedly “sexy” outfits from Harold’s Halloween Shoppe, but there’s nothing sexy about a polyester swimsuit covered in fake skunk fur. Just because I can see your bubbies, doesn’t mean you look hot, it means you might catch Sexy Woodland Creatures pneumonia. If you actually want to feel sexually empowered for the night, might I suggest that silk-lined burlesque costume a la Gypsy Rose Lee? Oh, wait. THAT DOESN’T EXIST.

d049df5b9fecbd8fb70a8c31f47ba1e1Halloween is meant to be a night of magic and mystery. Every October 31st, people step out of their houses clothed as something other than themselves. Why have we been driven away from that desire for whimsy and hoopla? It’s not that sexy costumes are bad, it’s that they’re barely costumes at all. No one actually thinks you look like “Sexy Rainbow Bright,” they think you look like you, wearing as little clothing as possible. That’s not sexual empowerment or fun, that’s being prey to an industry that wants to sell you cheap shit for lots of money. We can be sexy, but let’s also have some quality standards. More over, there should be options for women who want to leave our houses looking pretty, or horrifying, or breathtakingly repulsive. 

Not even the supposed “deluxe” costumes sold in Halloween shops are well-made or lovely. I refuse to believe you feel like a Clottette: Vampire Princess in that velvet faux-corset. There is no imagination in that outfit or any other sold next to it. Our magic—our fucking abracadabra— has been traded for cheap non-sex-appeal and flimsy construction. We’ve let our most spectacular holiday become just as shoddy as everything else we buy. Fast fashion has ruined Halloween and we should all be furious. We must demand quality, for Elsa’s sake!

Personally, I’m putting on a pinafore and penny loafers, tonight. Nancy Drew will be handing out candy to children, not fearing that a pumpkin might tumble over and set her aflame. Perhaps next Halloween, she will have solved the mystery of the missing abracadabra, or started her own damned costume company.

– Grace

If you’re trying to find a last minute costume, I’ve also suggested some easy, empowered costumes over at The Queen Latifah Show. Interesting uses for bananas, anyone?

11 thoughts on “Nancy Drew and the Missing Abracadabra: A Halloween Rant

  1. Just to be clear, do you hope for women to still go for – if not sexy – “attractive” outfits, or to go for broke and be a zombie pirate giraffe mercenary, pulling up to your local costume party in a one-person submarine?

    I’ve never attempted a “sexy” version of anything, or even attractive, for that matter. In fact, as I type this, I’m dressed as the Ghostface killer from “Scream,” for badness’ sake. At work! (In my defense, I have “clocked off” for the day).

    • I hope for women to dress as whatever the heck they want! I hate that our only option is sexy, but I do think people should have that option if they want it. I want well made *and* I want more options! Scary, random, nerdy, lovely: all sorts of options.

      • Just checking! I never considered “sexy” costumes to be an option, anyway, and have just gone for whatever. Silent Bob, the Scream Killer, a Scarecrow, Gadget Hackwrench, etc..

  2. This is just such a pain every Halloween now. When we’re turning characters like the Ninja Turtles, Rick Grimes, and Freddy Kruger into sexy Halloween costumes, something’s wrong with our Halloween. I’m glad that so many women feel this way, too, but I wish the market would catch up with its “target” audience.

  3. I know it’s way past Halloween, but I had to comment. It sounds a little lame, but my husband was a serial killer this year and I was his victim (we also turned our carport into an awesome “kill room” complete with tarps, fake blood, dead bodies, and knives). I put on really heavy black eye makeup, then made myself cry so it would run down my face. We bought liquid latex and fake blood, and my husband made an awesome throat-slit wound, which took about 90 minutes to make. We tore up my dress, and I had my husband drag me through the grass/mud so that it would look like he dragged my body around once I was dead. We stabbed my dress in certain places and then applied fake blood. It was a pretty creepy looking costume, and it took a lot of prep. I wore my costume to work on Halloween, expecting to fully scare or creep everyone out. However, EVERY SINGLE PERSON THAT DAY TOLD ME HOW “CUTE” I LOOKED. I did not have a single person tell me I was scary or creepy, just iteration after iteration of “What a cute costume!” After seriously pondering how I could keep getting told that, I finally realized that I think people are genuinely afraid to tell a woman that she looks scary or creepy or ugly, even when that’s what she’s trying to be! I feel like maybe that’s part of the reason places only sell crappy looking “sexy” costumes? Like, a woman isn’t allowed to be anything other than cute?

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