Halloween Slut-Shaming: Women Are Entitled To Dress Up However They Want

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The thing about Halloween costumes is that they vary greatly. We know this because we have eyes and we have seen them.

One year I saw a man in a full unitard that resembled the Greendale Human Being. I have no idea how he planned to go to the bathroom, and frankly, I don’t want to know. And while it was confusing and slightly terrifying and there is nothing I can do to forget it, who cares because he clearly felt like a million dollars.

Because here’s the thing about Halloween costumes: nobody wants your opinion — usually.

I say “usually” because racist costumes deserve a call-out. For the record, if you are appropriating race or culture for festive LOLs (or ever, by the way), you should be told, and told loudly, that you are wrong, and then you should feel bad and change immediately. It takes a lot of steps to complete a costume, and there are many chances to say, “I shouldn’t do this.” So there’s your pep talk — you know better.

But any other costumes are none of your business. And they are especially none of your business if they are the costumes of a grown-ass woman (or any woman) living her own grown-ass life. The length of her skirt, the height of her boots, the scoop of her neckline, and the crop of her top have nothing to do with you. They do not necessitate comments, and they do not invite abuse. And yet, here we are, preparing ourselves for what guarantees to be another night of judgement and jokes, because tacking "slutty" onto the beginning of a costume name never ceases to amuse.

Even though the joke is old, it is terrible. And this is because someone's sexual activity or the way they choose to express themselves sexually is not your punchline. How somebody opts to dress or to express themselves is not fodder for sarcasm or commentary, first: because it has nothing to do with you, and second: because the norms we've been upholding are outdated, misogynistic and even dangerous. So there's that.

Second, when you assign labels to a costume (or to any outfit or any person, but for the sake of Halloween, we're running with costumes), you create a narrative and assign particular values to the person wearing it. You make assumptions. And by making those assumptions, you take power away from the wearer in question with your choice of words and what you know they mean. Which is also the worst. Because guess what: it doesn’t matter why anyone’s wearing anything, they’re wearing what they want and what they’re wearing probably makes them feel super-great and super-confident or even super-whatever-I-had-nothing-else-so-here’s-this and your words and judgement have no place there.

So here’s the thing about any/all "slutty" [wink, wink] costumes and/or the jokes you want to make about them: no.

You see someone in a costume you wouldn’t wear, get over it.

You see someone in a costume you don’t think is “appropriate,” calm down.

You see someone in a costume that seems like an R-rated version of the PG-level you think you sanctioned, that’s too bad.

Hands to yourself. Comment section closed. Nobody’s asking for any of it. A woman is entitled to dress up however she wants without fear of harassment or worse. And while it’s probably too hopeful to imagine this Halloween as the first without slut-shaming or catcalling or judgement in any capacity (but holy hell, I can still dream), at least we can start with a one-way conversation.

And particularly this: there are no “slutty” costumes. There are just costumes. And while a particular costume may not be in your comfort level, that’s fine because you’re not the one wearing it. You get to wear whatever you like, whether it be the uniform of the Greendale Human Being or your regular clothes while you stay at home, eating chips. You do you, so let other people do them. Costume, no costume, or anything in between.

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