I blame Elvira.
Does anyone else remember her? Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, was the host of the 1980s show Movie Macabre. There had certainly been physically appealing horror characters before, but she took it to a new level with an over-the-top vampire costume and SEX practically tattooed across her face. Ever since then, it seems like the sexualization of Halloween has been on overdrive.
Whether you celebrate this holiday in some way or not (and I’m not getting into the arguments about that here), it is rather disconcerting to visit a party shop these days and see the plethora of skin-revealing costumes being pushed on women to wear. You can be a sexy cop, sexy nurse, sexy vampire, sexy cartoon character, sexy animal, sexy superhero . . . and I even saw a sexy Hershey’s Kiss costume.
As if chocolate isn’t sexy enough.
So why am I on this soapbox? Because I see this is a larger representation of what has happened with sex in our culture. In many ways, it’s become trivial.
Rather than being an intimate experience between husband and wife, as God designed, it’s a physically charged, publicly revealed, push-the-envelope display. It seems like some people treat advertisements, commercials, clothing lines, music videos, and even holidays with the attitude of “How can we sex this up?”
Of course, I talk about sex here all the time, and I’m not above chuckling at a sex pun. But sex itself belongs in the marital bedroom. And Christians who preach and practice that philosophy sometimes feel like a guppie swimming up rushing rapids. How can we keep in the right direction when the tide is against us?
Rather than getting overwhelmed by the whole thing, let’s just get back to what we can do in the costume realm today. (As the Chinese proverb goes, the journey of a thousand miles begins with single step.) So how can we swim against the tide?
- Don’t wear a sexy costume outside your house. If you want to dress up for your spouse, go right ahead. Introduce a little playfulness into your marital bedroom. But keep that unwrap-my-silver-wrapper Hershey Kiss costume for your husband’s eyes only.
- Don’t buy your children or teenagers questionable costumes. Start early with the idea that costumes, for whatever event, should be good-natured fun.
- Make your costumes. While I’m quite possibly the world’s worst seamstress, there’s something to be said for this. Even I can operate a glue gun. And in my case, there was Grandma. (God bless Grandma.) But if you make your family’s costumes, you have more control over the length, the fit, etc.
- Modify a costume. No one’s standing over your shoulder making sure you put on everything just the way the photo on the package shows. Alter the costume to cover up more and be more comfortable. For instance, add pants or an undershirt. Just use your common sense to make it something more wearable.
- Speak up. Hey, if you feel comfortable doing so, let your party store know — in a kind, gentle, helpful, Christian manner — that all the sexy costumes are a bit much. Maybe even praise them for their better choices, providing positive reinforcement.
- Throw your own costume party, with a twist. Encourage people’s real creativity by putting on a masquerade party where the focus is fun masks. Or host a costume party with a theme, like your favorite fictional, historical, or biblical character. There’s no guarantee someone won’t dress a little inappropriately, but those parameters are much safer. (Since I’ve yet to see a sexy George Washington costume. And if you find one, don’t tell me.)
- Or ignore costumes altogether. Sure, this is a choice. And quite a few people would prefer to never don a costume for any reason.
The tide may be strong, but every bit we do to stand for godly sexuality is a move in the right direction. As Dori from Finding Nemo said, “Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.”
As for myself, our area has an annual renaissance fair, and many people go in costume. The next time my husband and I go, we’d like to dress up. But having been there before, I already know that place will have its share of sexy costumes, with men in tight tights and women in push-up corsets. We’ll just avert our eyes from that, make our costume choices fun ones, and enjoy the experience. Because even if the Renaissance was sexy, our costumes don’t need to be. We’ll save that stuff for our bedroom.
What are you thoughts on the sexy costume trend? How do you think that reflects the approach of our culture toward sex?