Welcome to late October, the time of year when folks begin to seriously consider their Halloween duds. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, but as I've noted previously here on Annals of Spacetime, there's one thing about it that irks me to no end: the part where women and girls often have a hard time finding non-slutty, non-sexist costumes.
Enter my new favorite project, Take Back Halloween! Launched in 2010, the site offers concrete ideas and instructions for making costumes of notable historical and mythological women.
"This is not your typical Halloween costume thing,” says Suzanne Scoggins of the Real History Project, which sponsors the site. “We’re pushing back against the rule that women have to dress up as sex kittens. That shouldn’t be the only option for Halloween, much less a requirement. We’re trying to reclaim some space for a different vision of the holiday, where women can use Halloween to explore history and celebrate their heritage."
So, want to go as a notable scientist this year? Try dressing as physicist Lise Meitner (above, left) or computer science pioneer Ada Lovelace (above, center). If ruling nations is more your thing, you can be Jezebel, former queen of Israel; Hatshepsut (above, right), the Egyptian pharaoh; or Himiko, the first recorded ruler of Japan. Prefer to be a glamorous star of song or stage? Turn yourself into Diana Ross, Audrey Hepburn, or Josephine Baker! There are also designs for women's suffrage champion Susan B. Anthony; artist Frida Kahlo; Greek goddess Demeter; and lots more. One thing I really love about the offerings—and there are about 60 costume ideas currently available—is that they include impressive female figures from all over the world. Case in point: Ix Chel (below), a Mayan goddess of the moon, medicine, water and weaving. Nicknamed the "Lady of the Rainbow," she was apparently known for wearing bold, bright colors, jaguar pelts, and a coiled snake on her head. Sign me up!
If there's one down side to the site it's that it currently only offers instructions rather than an opportunity to purchase actual costumes. It would of course be wonderful if someone took this idea and ran with it as a business venture... In the meantime, if you don't have the sewing gene but would like to have one of the Take Back Halloween costumes made for you, I suggest joining Etsy and posting a request for the costume through Etsy's custom order team. How it works: Buyers post requests for custom-made items, and sellers contact buyers with proposals for making those requests come to life. You have to jump through a few hoops to be able to leave a request comment, but I tried it recently and it does work quite well.
Anyway, a ginormous thank you to the folks at Take Back Halloween for getting this idea out there...you've just made Halloween a whole lot cooler! ∞