Thursday, October 31, 2013

Sexy Kale costumes, $3 a bunch

Halloween! Has it already happened, or is it about to? I'm not celebrating it until the weekend, which means there's time yet for a costume epiphany. The plan had been to go as Einstein, in the spirit of hyper-localism, but then the question was, how? It's not that there aren't Einstein costumes - there are - but they're this mix of not quite right and hideous. Cheaper at the local costume store than online, but I have trouble spending any money on something I find, well, ugly. (Not actual Einstein's hair-and-mustache, which worked for him. Just the acrylic approximations.)

But also, an Einstein costume is a big ol' statement against Sexy Halloween.* But maybe too much so. Maybe the better approach is to go with sexy, but take it to an extreme, ala Sexy Pizza, as recently parodied on the Daily Show. I have some farmers' market kale I need to get through in one way or another. Perhaps I'll go as Sexy Kale, or better yet, Sexy Cliché.

I understand that there's already a vibrant feminist debate about whether women should wear sexy costumes, and that weighing in on Halloween itself makes me late. The verdict is evidently no, given the lists of generally somewhat grim feminist-approved dress-up options. There are also dissenters, protesting the slut-shaming of those whose idea of a costume is themed lingerie. There's also Dan Savage, who makes the important point that dressing skimpy attracts men, whether the skimpy dresser is male or female, which is why men looking to attract women tend to avoid it. I'm sure there are also, somewhere on the internet, feminist defenses of sexy costumes, along the lines of 'I bought the Slutty Nurse costume and am going to wear it for me,' but there only so many blog-hours in the day.

My own thoughts on the matter are basically summed up here, in a post not about Halloween. As I see it, rather than women straightforwardly being pressured into dressing as sexy vegetables or whatever, there's on the one hand, well, that, and on the other, that any overt attempt to look sexy, on Halloween or otherwise, comes across as desperate or possibly - horrors - unattractive. After all, we have this popular belief that every woman is fending off constant attention, even when she goes to the proverbial supermarket in her proverbial sweats-and-no-makeup. What does it say about a woman if she has to try?

8 comments:

Londoner said...

I'm sure there are also, somewhere on the internet, feminist defenses of sexy costumes, along the lines of 'I bought the Slutty Nurse costume and am going to wear it for me,'

The funny thing about "doing it for myself, honest!" feminism is that it always seems to apply to public, not private situations. To take one example, women who insist that they just love the ritual of putting on makeup don't usually have it on while lounging about the house in sweatpants. Same with the hypothetical slutty nurse lady. If it's about self-fulfillment, or whatever, you'd expect her to wear such an outfit in a place and scenario where she isn't being ogled by drooling fratboys.

What does it say about a woman if she has to try?

Well, to give you a traditional man's opinion, it's part of the whole look/don't look game a lot of women seem to love playing. From a (very old fashioned, so feel free to ignore it) male point of view, the more effort and artifice a woman puts into her physical appearance, the less right she has to complain over any resulting male attention. Contrast with the natural beauty who likewise gets hassled by men despite not being dolled up to the nines. The latter is entitled to complain over the harassment her natural looks attract, seeing as she can't do anything about it, while the former would simply be humblebragging over her false beauty. She could stop the male harassment by taking all the products off, but of course, she'll never do that.

Phoebe said...

Hmm... There are generous and less-generous ways to read your comment. If what you're saying is that women who don't dress like slobs - or who dress in a sexy way - are asking for harassment or assault, then no, absolutely not, can't emphasize it enough. If, however, by "male attention," you just mean approving glances, unsolicited chatting-up, and the occasional non-obscene catcall, fair enough, how you present yourself of course has an impact. But since you yourself use the word "harassment," I'm inclined not to read your comment generously. No woman is asking to be harassed.

Londoner said...

I didn't mean ass-grabbings on the subway/underground or more serious sexual assaults, God forbid. I was thinking more of catcalls and the like. Or perhaps complaining about men not talking to their faces while wearing a push-up bra and low-cut top.

But as I say, my views are hideously outdated and (perhaps thankfully) fading out.

Phoebe said...

There's a sensible middle-ground here, which is that people do signal things with their clothes, but no woman signals that she wants to be assaulted. The middle ground does require acknowledging that catcalls at the very least can constitute harassment, although opinions differ on whether a swiveled head or 'hey, gorgeous' counts. And I think feminists tend to be more reasonable on this than you imagine. No one's saying it's fine to wear hot-pants at the office.

There's also the issue of build vs. intent, which is where a lot of men screw this up. Some women appear to be wearing push-up bras when they're just wearing ones that fit, or wearing form-fitting or low-cut shirts when they're just wearing... shirts, but in this era of mass-produced clothing, there are only so many size options, and the end result may be inadvertently va va voom.

fourtinefork said...

Not to engage with the deeper questions, but I wear lipstick at home, when I am alone and expecting to see no one. And sometimes eyeliner. And most certainly moisturizers, serum, and skin care stuff.

I tend to test out some of my more elaborate eyeliner ideas on a random Tuesday night. Earlier this week I was seeing how the Laura Mercier Amethyst caviar stick paired with the Clinique Quickliner Intense in Amethyst. (Verdict: I like the colors but the two textures don't mix as well as I'd like.) Had anyone popped by, they might have questioned me about it, but it was a reasonably enjoyable thing to do on an evening when I was otherwise not doing much of anything else-- aside from some reading, filing, and cleaning.

My bumming around clothes tend to be loose dresses or big black linen or drapey pants. I'm as comfortable in any of that as I am in ratty sweat pants. I very rarely do manual labor, and I don't have children, so I don't really need clothes that can withstand a mess or heavy physical activity.

In other words, different women have different preferences!

Anonymous said...

Not to engage with the deeper questions, but I wear lipstick at home, when I am alone and expecting to see no one. And sometimes eyeliner. And most certainly moisturizers, serum, and skin care stuff.

I tend to test out some of my more elaborate eyeliner ideas on a random Tuesday night. Earlier this week I was seeing how the Laura Mercier Amethyst caviar stick paired with the Clinique Quickliner Intense in Amethyst. (Verdict: I like the colors but the two textures don't mix as well as I'd like.) Had anyone popped by, they might have questioned me about it, but it was a reasonably enjoyable thing to do on an evening when I was otherwise not doing much of anything else-- aside from some reading, filing, and cleaning.

My bumming around clothes tend to be loose dresses or big black linen or drapey pants. I'm as comfortable in any of that as I am in ratty sweat pants. I very rarely do manual labor, and I don't have children, so I don't really need clothes that can withstand a mess or heavy physical activity.

In other words, different women have different preferences!cheap summer dresses online
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costlules said...

I perceive that there is already a vibrant feminist debate about whether or not girls ought to put on attractive costumes, and that weighing in on Halloween itself makes me late.

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