Elvira's blood-sucking sidekick?
Titillating French maid/cheerleader/Paris Hilton cellmate?
Stroll the aisles of your neighborhood costume shop, and you'll find hundreds of opportunities to "get in touch with your feminine, erotic side."
Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bees and Wannabes, says that teen girls take advantage of "Halloween immunity"--a one-day pass to dress sexy and trashy without fear of censure. Women young and old say it's the one time of year they get to show a side of themselves that normally lies hidden beneath the Brooks Brothers suit. Some even argue that dressing like Hooters girls is a kind of feminist empowerment, with women calling the shots about how they want to look and dress.
I'm not buying any of it, and neither should you.
This "empowered hot" is just another example of how women self-sabotage by unwittingly absorbing cultural ideas that are, at first glance, desirable qualities females should have (sheep's clothing). "Hey, I'm not a trashy tramp--I'm a confident woman embracing her own sexuality!"
Look deeper, however, and you'll see the wolf-in-sheep's-clothing--that harmful, misogynistic idea masquerading as a positive quality.
And it's not just that you're dressing sexy/trashy. It's also that you're objectifying certain socially-sanctioned womanly roles--maid, nurse, etc. --and then taking them to the extreme; settling for being a nurse instead of a doctor (when you've always had the ambition to be a doctor and have the mind to do so) isn't good enough--you've got to be a hot nurse.
Think you're elevating yourself to go where no girls-gone-wild woman has ever gone before by showcasing yourself in a racy get-up? Think again. Sexually objectify yourself and you're buying into that culturally accepted attitude that your greatest value and attractiveness is measured by the depth of your cleavage and the lift of your stiletto. When you don the explicit costume, you're ignoring, at best, or enabling or fueling, at worst, society's disrespect for women.
And think about this--young girls are watching and imitating you. I've seen kids as young as nine wearing Cat Woman costumes with revealing cutouts. And what are the young boys to make of these images of girls and women and how they, as males, should relate to us? Model something else for the little ones coming up alongside and behind you.
Oh, and, single and looking? Consider the type of partner you want to attract when you're contemplating how you'll present yourself to the world, even for just one night. Remember: the brainy, fully-clothed-yet-somehow-mesmerizing-librarian look attracts a totally different animal than does the Playboy Bunny who has nothing substantive to say or do. Think about it. Step out as Tina Tequila and you'll attract a like-minded buffoon.
I'm all for sexy--but sexy should be the way you define it--free from peer pressure and the influence of a junk culture; sexy shouldn't be ratified by the raunchiness on display at the costume stores. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be attractive, but you needn't cross the line so that you look like a pole dancer.
Don't sell yourself short. Boycott the the dumbing down and objectifying of women: don't buy or make the bad girl costumes, for yourself or for your daughters. Make a pact with your women friends that, this year, you'll go for a different look.