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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The F Word: Porno-ween

October is very much here and I am spending the entire month changing costume ideas for Halloween. I will eventually end up going as an obscure film character that maybe a shocking number of five people will recognize. But if you don’t take Halloween as seriously as I do, then you can go with some classic costumes: pirate, superhero, zombie or ghost.

But, if you’re a young lady, you have the option to go as a sexy pirate, sexy superhero or sexy member of the living dead.

 However, I have met many girls who would prefer not to have their sex appeal as the highlight of their costume, and choose to shirk risque counterparts to traditional favorites. These girls have snuck off to the men’s aisle as an alternative. This practice has originated from a time as early as middle school, when we’re slightly precocious about our burgeoning sexualities.

Remember the time when you first started reading “young adult” novels and felt your first transition into adulthood. It was around that time, in the seventh grade, when “young adult” was the section in department stores where I had to start shopping. I was too big to fit into any kids-costumes so I had to try on outfits from this new area. When I actually donned my half-angel, half-devil dress, I kept pulling down the hemline because I felt like my underwear was in brazen display.

This is probably fun at an adult costume party but it wasn’t fun being that self-conscious while taking pictures with my friends and getting judgmental stares from parents everywhere. I was too young to realize I was being sexualized, but I had a vague suspicion that that was the uncomfortable weight of the stares that I felt. What was I to do? Nothing else fit me.

Aside from my personal anecdote, this is problematic on a societal level. Because Mean Girls describes Halloween as an excuse for girls to dress up as slutty versions of animals, making us seem vapid and unoriginal. Because costume versions of Disney princesses and other of our childhood characters such as Minnie Mouse, Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street and Hermione from Harry Potter are made to be sex symbols.

Our lives before puberty shouldn’t be the sexual ideal because that brings a whole set of problems with beauty expectations, such as the desirable pre-pubescent hairless body. Serious professions that are typically male-dominated (e.g. medicine, criminal justice) are caricatured in sultry ways. Women can’t get the respect they deserve in these highly specialized fields if they are pre-conceived as objects that are meant to be ornamented in sexy ways. And let’s face it, it’s kind of ridiculous that there are sexy hamburger costumes.

The Halloween costume industry is not the main contributor to the body manipulation our commercialistic culture is capable of. It’s troubling that many markets and industries thrive off of the usage of woman as sex objects. The effect of the porn industry is subtle yet pervasive enough that it becomes normal for Victoria’s Secret advertisements to be more geared towards the titillation of men than it is aimed towards making their main consumer group excited to buy their products.

Not a lot of girls look like Victoria’s Secret models, and possibly feel like they aren’t the target demographic for these commercials. In fact, it’s a method of poking at our insecurities to sell a product. Bras are marketed to us more for the purpose of making our breasts appear larger and rounder rather than offering us comfort and support.

Taking masculine underwear into account, Calvin Klein models may sport some really provocative crotch shots but the advertisers don’t tell men that their boxers would make their penis look bigger. Men just don’t have to worry about that sort of thing.

On a large scale, Halloween has become an awkward occasion where most girls’ costumes look like lingerie. It’s just another situation where girls have to keep on adjusting their bra straps or pulling down their dresses when they’re clearly not enjoying themselves. If you want to show your naughty side during Halloween that’s fine! I mean, it’s not like we can go trick or treating anymore. We need our thrill from somewhere. All we are asking for here is a little more variety, a little less objectification.

Email MONA SUNDARA at msundarav@ucdavis.edu and share some of your creative costume ideas!

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