Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Why Patrick Star Makes a Poor Halloween Costume (and other holiday ramblings)

I live in Athens County, Ohio. Here, we’re known for many things:  The  pawpaw Festival, being haunted, Ohio University’s Maya Lin & Matt Lauer, the murderous (and still missing) Professor Stees – and, of course, our annual Halloween Block Party, where locals and students enjoy a night of music, drinking and dress-up with 30,000 weekend visitors, all packed into a 4-block section of uptown Athens. It’s crazy, and it’s kind of a big deal. In 2009, Playboy Magazine listed OU as the Top Party School, saying our “Halloween party might be the best in the country.” And though I haven’t been to every party in the country, I am partial to the big one right here in my own back yard. I’ve been going since 1989.

What's with the "slut" reference?
Why can't we say "sex pot" or "Halloween Hottie" ??
It’s great to watch, as I often do, checking out the costumes and mentally deciding my favorites. This year I adored the retro-looking Circus Strong Man, the crying mummy, the beer-pongers,  plus all the brightly lit jellyfish. And I’ll admit, I also checked out  the myriad of  lovely ladies wearing skimpy, tight-fitting outfits. How could I not? There were scantily–clad Elmo’s, foxes, peacocks, pirates, prisoners, monsters, vampires, umpires, witches, and mermaids… and pretty much anything else you can think of. Other than wondering why in the hell they would wear something so skimpy in 40 degree weather, standing there shivering next to their male companions -  who usually wore flannel underneath his vampire, Smurf, werewolf or policeman uniform – I don’t judge. I support my female comrades and their choice to wear whatever makes them happy… AND whatever makes them feel like one hot mama!

Actually, I prefer that all my cosmic sisters wear clothing that boosts their self-esteem. And if that happens to be something that shows their ass cheeks, or the bottoms (or tops) of  their boobs .. then rock the hell on!! You know why? Because if I were ever to wear the same thing, I want the same support and understanding that I’m giving everyone else. Treat others the way YOU want to be treated is a philosophy we all need to live by. No need for slut-labeling and slut-shaming. Hating other women just for the sake of hating them is the real shame. And I don’t want any part of it.

Dressing warm for the Block Party... 20+ years ago.
I'm in the green sweater.
But, as I stood there watching all the women who braved the cold to wear something that honestly gave them no protection from the nearly-freezing weather, I had to wonder --- why?  Why did so many women feel it necessary to sacrifice warmth for these barely-there outfits? I remember one of my early  block parties. I wore a turtleneck and a green sweater, gloves, boots and a coat. It was about 40 degrees and I was still cold! No way would I have worn anything less… and I regretted not wearing more! And thinking back, I honestly don’t remember more than  a handful of partially naked women walking Court Street… and most of them were running from one party to the next, trying to get out of the cold!

Same character, different gender. Notice anything?
So what happened over the past 20 years? How did we go from sweaters to swimsuits? 

I know, we all have free will. I get that. We all decide what we’re going to put on our bodies every day and how we present ourselves to the public… but we are also guided (consciously and subconsciously) by the world around us. Advertisers, magazines, clothing stores, movies and social media bombards us with images of what is popular, acceptable, expected and attractive. Over the years, this has influenced our choices for Halloween costumes. For men, it’s often something funny, masculine, scary or simple. A mask of a famous person, a super hero, an iconic horror movie villain, a pirate, and both a life sized banana and a chicken were on the shelves of our local Walmart. On the other side were women’s choices: sexy Minnie Mouse, sexy fairy, sexy kitty cat, sexy vampire, sexy witch, sexy ghost, and so forth. The women’s costumes costs more, but had far less material and items in the packaging. It doesn’t take much to make a sexy kitty cat, after all. The costume came with fishnet stockings, kitty ears, a tail, and a little skirt. The chicken costume came with a full, one-size fits all oversized, zip-up chicken suit – with a face mask. It actually looked like a chicken. The kitty costume did not.

There is a definite double standard when it comes to our Halloween options. Available outfits have become sexualized to the point that it would be laughable if companies were JUST targeting grown woman, and not advertising their sexist ideals onto teens, tweens, and even younger girls who are trying to develop their sense of self and gender. Look at the below image from an online storefront. These costumes are marketed to teens and tweens. Notice anything? Perhaps that they ALL have an incredibly SHORT mini-skirt? Boots and/or heels?   Gloves and tight fitting tops? Some even show the belly or a bit of cleavage.

I'm a mom and a grandma... and I just gotta ask: Who's buying these things for their teens and tweens? And why the hell would you do that?? These outfits are maybe ONE step down from an adult lingerie/sexy bedroom outfit from an online retailer. Don't believe me? Here's an ad from Frederick's of Hollywood. 

Told you.

And to prove my argument (well..... concern) one last time, I'm going to allow this Patrick Star from Spongebob to illustrate my point for me... that the world is pushing young girls into sexualizing themselves, while boys are absent of this pressure:
Why do boys get to be fun, goofy Patrick but the girls are made to wear sexy skirts and Patrick on their shirts?
And why in the hell is this little girls outfit the exact same as the adult woman's outfit???

A fav of mine from the 2013
Athens Halloween Block Party.
 I want to make this very clear: I support a grown woman's right to wear whatever she wants, when she wants to wear it. I applaud all of you who refuse to conform to the opinions and ideals of others. I love that you wanted to be a sexy butterfly for Halloween, or that you DIDN'T want to be a sexy butterfly. You did what you wanted and I love that about you.

BUT, if you're doing it because the media directs you towards that path, or you think it's expected of you, then know that you are equally wonderful if you wore a blue garbage can, standing next to a group of guys (also in blue garbage cans) and having people throw beer pong balls at you... because it's okay to be funny, and warm, and creative with your costumes. You don't have to walk around town freezing your asses off just because Walmart and Amazon were only selling skimpy animal costumes.

And guess what? Next year you can be the sexy cat AND wear thermal underwear underneath that shirt and knit leggings rather than stockings - and you can still feel sexy while doing it!

Oh... and remember: you can always wear a green sweater, a turtleneck, boots, a jacket and gloves.  I'm sure you'll still look hot - while keeping yourself warm. Maybe throw on a chicken suit and have your male companion wear a sexy kitty cat costume. Keep an eye out for me and wave me down. I'm gonna wanna see it. You might just make it onto my list of Favs.

Thanks for listening!

~ Terri Jean


  1. Thank you so much for a well written, easy to understand article on this. It can get really confusing when trying to explain it – but you did a great job. Thank you!

  2. Also, why is the teen wearing so much make up, she's going to be trick or treating and someones going to say "Oh that a very nice... Uh whore costume?" Thats the only thing you didn't cover. Other than that nice job!


Let us know what you think!!