As October comes to a close, you’ll likely see superheroes, zombies and a bit of skin. Is there a hierarchy when it comes to Halloween costumes, and is it such a bad thing to choose glamour over guts?
In Mean Girls, a divide between “regular” Halloween and “girl world” Halloween is made clear. The film’s intelligent characters enjoy frightening Halloween imagery, while the shallow ones indulge their vanity in revealing outfits.
“It’s quite sad that people have to resort to treating other people’s costumes as not as legitimate just because they’re more revealing,” Erika Deak says.
Deak, who calls herself Freaky Deaky in Winnipeg’s roller derby scene, will dress as a skeleton along with her teammates this year, but she says everyone should have the freedom to choose a costume they feel great about wearing.
Revealing costumes remain a constant in Halloween shops. Hair stylist Lisa Fulcher says when she goes to costume parties, the sexy cop is one of her go-to looks.
She says criticism for sexualized costumes tends to come from the idea that they take away from the real people in those professions or even from women in general.
“That’s not the case at all. It’s just a fun time,” she says. “I wouldn’t go out dressed sexy if I didn’t feel good about myself or feel proud to be a sexual woman. I think it’s more powerful to dress sexy than sit at home and want to hide yourself.”
Susan Leonard, a nurse, says she is enthusiastic about women feeling good in their skin but wishes people knew where to draw the line between fantasy and reality.
“I have been referred to or hit on by patients inappropriately as the naughty nurse,” she says. “I would not be giving enemas in a tiny see-through dress or spend my 12-hour shift in heels. I suppose because I’m up to my elbows in bodily fluids, I don’t find my work sexy.”
Kristen Andrews, stylist and owner of Ragpickers Antifashion Emporium, loves to help people of all genders create one-of-a-kind looks.
She says she finds options at big box stores disheartening, not because they are revealing, but more so because they’re limited in the way they portray women and are overpriced.
This year, she says she transformed a mom into a glamorous dragon.
“She’s in a beautiful fringed flapper dress that’s all fire colours,” she says. “And then she’s got a huge red sequined trailing jacket cape.”
Andrews finished off the look with a showgirl headpiece arranged to represent curled horns and long Taiwanese brass fingers.
Halloween doesn’t have to be frightening, she says, but it can be an opportunity to dress fancy and formal.
Andrews says she has seen people discover new sides of themselves when they put on the right costume.
Some normally shy people feel empowered to wear their kink on their sleeve, she says, but, perhaps, they might even meet someone to have a little Halloween fun with.
The extensive Ragpickers costume collection is available by appointment only. Call 204-942-7992 to book.
Published in Volume 71, Number 8 of The Uniter (October 27, 2016)