Halloween Costumes: Empowerment Or Exploitation?

Halloween Costumes: Empowerment Or Exploitation?

How to avoid the pressure of the sexy-nurse cliche.

Halloween, Freshman Year, Greek Row. My friends and I are huddled in a group on the steps of a frat house. Two boys in muscle tees stand in the doorway, arms crossed over their chests. A bass line throbs beneath the porch floorboards, making the windows quiver.

The pair of eyes scan our outfits, brows raised. I feel humiliated, waiting for judgment, suspended in Purgatory between parties. My Wednesday Adams costume seems conservative, at least compared to the group of girls in front of us—in a nod to The Purge trilogy, they wear skimpy lace lingerie and masks, carrying fake machine guns (never mind the fact that it’s a crisp forty degrees outside).

I feel exactly like Cady in Mean Girls when she walks into the party dressed as a grotesque monster bride. I would much rather be curled up on the couch with a pillowcase of candy, rewatching Hocus Pocus with my cat.

The billion-dollar Halloween costume market is dominated by sex appeal. Your options as a woman are limited to the sexy nurse-cop-witch-pirate-cheerleader-cowgirl, or something equally objectifying. This is excluding, of course, the cultural appropriation of costumes such as the sexy Geisha or Native American, which fetishize and reinforce racial stereotypes.

Most costumes feature a mini skirt, exposed cleavage, provocative mesh tops or fishnets. The intention of these clothes is to draw attention to your body, to present something alluring and seductive—they are catered to appease the heterosexual male desire, dictated by the male gaze. The costume industry is a reflection of how women are hypersexualized in media, such as the American Apparel ads that range from racy to demeaning, or in the male-centric Marvel superhero universe.

The perpetuation of sexualization teaches girls that they should equate their self-worth with being physically attractive and seek validation in the form of flattery. Media exposure has been proven to shape the perceptions of an ideal body, with research linking unrealistic media depictions of women to lower self-esteem and poor body image in young girls.

This isn’t my way of slut-shaming the Catwomen in leather bodysuits or vampire queens in rib-squeezing corsets. Plenty of women feel empowered by showing skin, they embrace their bodies and celebrate themselves. It’s an act of self-love and self-appreciation. They enjoy dolling up and strutting down the street in killer heels, without the intention to impress anyone. You should be able to dress in whatever way makes you feel comfortable, without being pressured to exploit your body or adhere to typical gender roles.

Need some original non-sexy Halloween costume ideas? We live in the Golden Age of Television, which has birthed some of the strongest female protagonists yet. Any Orange Is the New Black character will do; Game of Thrones has a plethora of badass heroines, as does The Walking Dead if you’re leaning for something more traditionally horror-oriented. There are many opportunities to be creative and have fun without exploiting yourself or someone else’s culture.

Cover Image Credit: Mariah Hall

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New Year, Not New You

January 1st changes nothing.

New Year’s resolutions are obviously made with good intent, but the reality is that many people fail to keep their resolution within a couple of months. People often give up on their goals and claim that they will “try again next year, for real next time.” I personally believe that the easiest way to avoid this type of failure, is to not create new goals for the New Year.

A new year is exciting- the start of the calendar, celebrations, and a new date to write. However, there has always been a tradition where people set goals for themselves to accomplish during the new year. But why? I had a teacher who always said, “If there is something you want to improve in your life, start now.” And I couldn't agree more. Why wait for the first day of the year to change something?

Every year, we hope to change ourselves for the better starting January 1st. Most people are unable to pursue their goals because they often forget their goals, get sidetracked, or just give up. And that’s okay. Goals take time to be accomplished- it definitely does not happen overnight. Trying to change a lot at once is challenging and the goals we set for ourselves should be simple and realistic. I do believe everyone has something they can improve about themselves. Instead of making a list of goals on January 1st, we should periodically set goals throughout the year in order to work on ourselves everyday.

New Year’s does not mean you have to change. Keep being you and find small aspects of your life to improve on everyday because a small change can make a big difference.

Happy New Year!

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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6 New Year's Resolutions You Can Tell To Get People Off Your Back

When someone asks, you can just throw one of these out there.

Let's face it; New Year's Resolutions have become an over-hyped fad. People at the grocery store or at your job or in class with you want to make small talk and of course, they ask the most basic question of January: "What is your resolution for the New Year?"

Until Valentines Day, you will hear this question asked a lot especially when you see people crowding at the gym the first few weeks of January in hopes to start their doomed fitness journey or the shelves cleaned off at the local pharmacies for teeth whitening strips (seriously, I've seen it).

Yes, some people want to start 2018 with a better smile and make all sorts of promises and then there are others who just want to live their life. As a person who believes in living each day learning from mistakes and striving to change with each lesson gained, I really don't care about new years resolutions. No offense to the people who do.

I want to be able to have something happen to me any day out of the 365 in the year and say "Hey, maybe I could change this and push to be better."

However, I'm 99% sure that the New Years Resolution trend will continue forth for a while to come because it's a fun idea for the holiday. So in order to fall in line with society and act like you believe in resolutions, here are a few resolutions ideas you can tell in order to appease the questioners and what they will most likely think of them.

1. "I'm starting a fitness journey."

What they hear: "I'm going to buy $50 Nike sneakers and spend over a hundred dollars on workout clothes and a gym membership, but I'm only going to for the first few weeks of January. I'll keep paying the membership and tell myself I'll go the next day,"

2. "I'm quitting smoking / a bad habit."

What they hear: "I'm going to quit but then I'm going to get the bill for my textbooks and break down and do it again in stress,"

3. "I'm going to stop texting my ex."

What they hear: "I'm going to stop texting him but then I'm going to get lonely in the middle of the night and break down. Maybe I'll go to the bar and drunk-dial him and act like it was a mistake,"

4. "I'm quitting meat/starting veganism."

What they hear: "I'm going to give up meat because I'm tired of feeling guilty because I'm eating something that had a face. Sadly, I'll see a Chick-Fil-A on the way to class and break down. Maybe I'll just get a kid's meal? Let's be real I'm getting an eight-count nugget meal,"

5. "I'm going to save money."

What they hear: "I'm going to put my direct deposit from my job straight into savings but then I'm going to transfer it into my checking account so I can get Cookout with my friends at 3 a.m."

6. "I'll get better grades."

What they hear: "I'm going to buy a ton of notebooks and pencils and go to class regularly the first two weeks of the semester, but then I'll realize economics is BORING and then skip to stay in and nap or watch Netflix,"

These are some of the most stereotypical resolutions for fellow nonbelievers of the holiday who are pestered with questions. Say these resolutions at your own risk because there are stereotypes associated with some of the more common resolutions. I urge everyone to strive to be better this year. Like, legit. Welcome to 2018 and may the year be in your favor.

Cover Image Credit: Flickr

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