Saturday, October 20, 2007

the (icky) business of halloween

Allow me to rant for a minute about the Halloween business here in New York City. First off, you should know that I love Halloween. Here's a holiday that everyone can get happy about - there's little pressure other than what costume to wear, you get to make a fool of yourself and be someone (or something) else for a day, and of course, there's the candy. But the business of Halloween makes me sick.

Here in New York there are a few specialty costume shops that are decent mom-and-pop stores. But the majority of NYC costume sales are made at the retail chain Ricky's, a glamified beauty shop for 11 months out of the year and a "Halloween superstore" in October. My first major beef with the costume shopping experience at Ricky's is the double-whammy of not being able to return or exchange any Halloween stuff and not being able to try the costumes on. You know, I do understand retail, and I understand the need to capitalize on a timely holiday. Ricky's doesn't want to be stuck with costumes people change their minds about at the last minute. But, it's incredible to me that you can't try stuff on. Of course the biggest reason anyone would want to try a costume on is that the sizing, especially for women, is completely crazy! And I'm a lot less likely to put money down on something that might not fit me. So I really don't get that whole situation.

Which brings me to beef #2: Women's Halloween costumes are essentially all pornographic! It's really scary. Almost every single costume that Ricky's sells for females over the age of 12 involves an ultramini skirt (the kind you mistake for underwear) and a glorified bra that you pretty much can't don anyway unless you're a D-cup. Clearly, Halloween is an inherently sexy holiday - when else can you dress like an actual whore and get away with it? But to essentially MAKE women dress like this is totally stupid. (And I'm not the only one who thinks so!) Seriously, just looking at the women's section at Ricky's makes me feel like I'm in a porn shop, and the skimpy costumes are pretty much all the choice I've got. The models all have serious cleavage, long, sexy legs, and a pouty look that's just begging for foreplay. This must be what the Victoria's Secret models do in their spare time! (To be sure, Ricky's is known for it's back-of-the-store sex toys, but at least those are hidden from all the kids.) Oh, and have I mentioned that Halloween takes place one day before NOVEMBER? In New York, at least, it's COLD in November. Why should women have to freeze their asses off on Halloween when the guys almost always get to wear a pair of pants and full shirt, if not some warmer, fuzzier outfit? Even traditional costumes seem overly sexed up. I mean, Marie Antoinette was a babe, no doubt, but I guarantee you her skirts were three times as long as the "replicas" you can buy for Halloween today. What's even more silly is the fact that Ricky's has a whole section of Playboy-licensed "sexy costumes." The way 99 percent of the women's costumes they carry look and fit, they might as well stamp "Playboy" on the whole lot.

That brings me to my last major problem with the Halloween business. Along with being sexy, most Halloween costumes - and I'm including all age groups here - are totally sexist. This year I thought it would be fun to be an astronaut, perhaps just straight up, or perhaps adding the Lisa Nowak diaper. But, wouldn't ya know it, there are only boy's or men's astronaut costumes! I checked out both and neither was going to work for a 5'4 woman; the boys' was too small and the men's was so big, I could probably fit two of me into it. How sad that so-called "girl costumes" are witches and princesses, while "boy costumes" are robots and astronauts... There was one set of costumes in particular that really got to me. You can buy a boy or man Ghostbuster outfit, but if you want to be a female Ghostbuster, can see the problem. Mostly, of course, I blame the costume manufacturers. But it comes from parents, too. While shopping today, I overheard a young girl asking her mom if she could buy superhero costume. The mom replied, "That's a boy costume. Pick something more girly." I had to restrain myself. I guess we still have a way to go as far as really accepting that girls can be whatever they want to be...

Anyway, I suppose the saving grace is that at least there's still the candy. The only part of the Halloween business I really like is being able to buy my sugary treats for half off the day after the main event!


  1. Here's a thing: I've noticed that Halloween parties (at least in NYC) seem to be populated entirely by either people who buy or rent their costumes, OR by people who have made their own costumes. The two demos don't mix, it seems.

    Anyway, I'm bucking the trends and making myself a "Sexy Astronaut" costume.

  2. Lisa Nowak is an awesome costume idea. What about using a tracksuit with the NASA logo, like what they wear when they're not actually in space? My idea for this year was to go as Annie Hall, but so far the people I've told this to (other than Elbert) think it's way too obscure.

  3. Anonymous4:37 AM

    ...please where can I buy a unicorn?


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