Wednesday, December 13, 2006

sexy nurses and dirty cops

My roommate dressed as a “cowgirl” for this year’s Halloween festivities.

The costume consisted of a western-style shirt tied up to display a good 8 inches of her stomach region, a denim skirt reminiscent of Daisy Duke’s infamous shorts, a bright pink hat, and Ugg boots.

How can you ride a horse in that get-up?

To make matters even worse, after reviewing her attire in the mirror, she opted for an even shorter version of the already lacking, to say the least, denim skirt.

“Is this too short?” she asked.

“Why don’t you just go in your underwear?” I asked in response.

She thought I was kidding, but there is a serious concern in my comment.

My roommate is an intelligent, beautiful, and talented woman. She could turn heads in her pajamas, let alone a costume that looks like cowgirl-themed lingerie. She doesn’t need to showcase her body for all to see to get attention.

And she’s not the only one.

I asked some other girl friends from La Crosse what they were wearing for Halloween. Almost every answer contained the adjectives “sexy,” or “dirty.” One friend was a “sexy” Captain Hook from Peter Pan. Another was a “dirty” police officer, and I’m not talking Jon Bartlett “dirty.”

When did Halloween make the transition from scary to sexy for women?

The popular Lindsay Lohan movie, “Mean Girls,” contained a funny, but truthful quote concerning young women and Halloween:

“Halloween is the one night a year when girls can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.”

Good thing many young girls see Lohan as a role model and memorize her movies.

These provocative costumes have now become a huge trend in Halloween-town. Not only are they demeaning to women and reinforcing gender ideologies by equating sexiness with appearance; they are potentially dangerous.

Retail stores like Target and Wal-Mart are feeding the trend with the overabundance of women’s costumes portraying a “sexy” version of notable female occupations, like the naughty nurse, or popular fictional children’s figures, like Disney’s Tinkerbell, for grown women.

Walk through the aisles of these stores, and it will be difficult to find a traditional, scary costume, unless you’re in the men’s department, where apparently they aren’t “bringing sexy back” yet.

They’ve even made Raggedy Ann provocative! For $9.50, women can be the “Rag doll,” at

The website offers this description of the costume: “You'll definitely be the 'Doll' of the party in this sultry, 'wet look'-vinyl Rag Doll number from Rubies. Comes complete with a vinyl bodice top and skirt, apron, hat, wig and thigh-highs…Does not include lollipop.”

Raggedy Ann is a rag doll; she’s not supposed to be sexy.

Many women also completely correlate feeling sexy by looking “sexy.” Deborah Tolman, director of the Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality at San Francisco State University, wrote a book called “Dilemmas of Desire: Teenage Girls Talk About Sexuality,” in which she questioned teenage girls on a variety of topics concerning sexuality, according to a New York Times article.

In the book, Tolman said that when the girls were asked what makes them feel sexy, they misunderstood the question as, “What makes you look sexy?”

This is the misconception that many young women have when it comes to dressing up for Halloween. They correlate feeling sexy with dressing provocatively, putting body image front and center.

How about designing your own, creative costume from scratch? Personally, I’d feel sexier knowing that I was unique in a crowd of people, and had used my imagination and wit to create a spectacular costume.

The dangerous aspect of these provocative Halloween costumes for women is the situation they usually occur in. Alcohol often comes hand in hand with Halloween for young women and men. Halloween on State Street in Madison, for example, is basically a huge house party of intoxicated, belligerent college students.

Judgment is impaired, and bad people are on the prowl. Wearing a towel as a costume is basically a target for those who will prey on young, drunk women.

Some also argue that dressing provocatively on Halloween is a way to escape the routine, unexciting casual attire.

It is not necessary to show your body parts to have fun. It may be even more fun to wear such a disguising costume that even your closest friends can’t tell who you are. That’s a good escape for anyone who wants to get away for a while.

Now don’t get me wrong- as a woman, I support feeling sexy, and even showing a little, appropriate skin when desired, like wearing a nice dress.

Women should be confident and proud of their bodies.

But there’s a fine line between classic sexy, and downright dirty.


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