Since When Did Halloween Become Sexy?

I blame Elvira.

Elvira photo from Movie MacabreDoes 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.

 

Woman's feet with black-and-orange tights with blog title

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?

14 thoughts on “Since When Did Halloween Become Sexy?

  1. happywife

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but a google search did result in a sexy George Washington costume, along with sexy Burt and Ernie, and a sexy hamburger.
    I find it so ridiculous. It’s almost like it’s become a requirement that all female costumes be sexy. I’m so glad I don’t have daughters.

  2. Jerry Stumpf

    I won’t speak to Halloween costumes but I had to chuckle as I remembered my wife’s admonition to our daughter MANY times.

    Background: my wife is a professional seamstress for a bridal shop (30+ years) so she tells her boss “don’t ask me to talk with the customers!”

    Our daughter started going into the bridal shop early in life and as a typical young girl would oh and ah over the designs. My wife’s favorite line was “That dress would look real good in a turtleneck and long sleeves.” At first our daughter was not impressed. However she has grown up to be a modest mother of a great little man [and] also honors her husband.

    So when I read about the “sexy” part I thought of the way my wife found to teach our daughter and other women we coach, how to be modest in an immodest world.

    Kudos to you for speaking out as well!

    Jerry Stumpf the Marriage educator & communication coach

    1. J Post author

      Good for your wife! And yes, I think even when our kids balk, they’re listening and taking notes from our example. Thanks, Jerry.

  3. E

    I completely agree with you!

    People in our area did trick or treating last night, and I think some of the girls were really regretting their costuming choices — it was COLD! Any bare skin anyone had was numb by the end. Brrr.

  4. May

    I ran across a picture yesterday that describes the problem well of course I can’t find it now. But the basics of it go something like this.
    A Kostume is a outfit loosely based on a character or object for going to fancy dress parties.
    A Costume is a well researched piece of clothing used in a staged play, film, re enactment , or Comic convention.
    Cosplay is lingerie that is based on a character or object more appropriate for bedroom use that is increasingly being used in place of a Kostume.

    Yes I have spelt Kostume incorrectly to emphasize the difference.

    1. May

      All of the above are fun options if used in the correct context. Ie Cosplay is for your husband’s eyes only. Please could we have some more Kostume for women as options for fancy dress parties. And wow you have way to much time on your hands but you look fantastic Costume, what do you mean it’s you hobby.

    2. alchemist

      @ May. See I don’t agree with you on the cosplay bit. Real serious Cosplayers strive to re-create the character from the movie/ game/ comic book/ anime exactly. If you’re doing it properly it goes with wigs so you can get the hair right, makeup, accessories the whole shebang. They’re only “sexy” or revealing if the character they are cosplaying is actually dressed like that. Some of them are really inappropriate. But it’s not like Catwoman or Wonder Women or a plethora of game and anime characters are dressed modestly.

      But it would be equally hard to cosplay say Anna from Frozen or Hermoine Granger or someone like that immodestly. I’ve even seen some pretty modest Sailor Scout and Misty cosplays. And those skirts on the shows are *short*. The girls doing those actually made the skirts/ shorts a bit longer.

      A cosplayer would die rather than put on a “sexy princess” or “sexy wizard” costume. It has to look like the character or it’s not cosplay.

  5. Beth

    I completely agree with keeping sexy and revealing in the bedroom. It is fun to see how big my husband’s eyes can get. 😉

    As far as costumes in public go, I find it pretty tasteless to just put on something that shows a ton of skin. Sure, it’ll catch a lot of eyes, but it’s not creative or attractive. Women and girls I’ve talked to, and been friends with, think it’s really feminist and freeing to put on something sexy and parade in front of whoever will look. I find it really sad that they don’t even realize they’re just placing themselves in greater slavery. Our culture tells us we have no value unless we’re sexy and a man-magnet. Putting on sexy costumes like that is (even inadvertently) agreeing with the culture. Men (unless they’ve been transformed in the heart) who see women dressed seductively do not think of them as persons, but as objects to be used, visually and physically. It’s really sad. And it’s also frightening because I have four daughters, and my husband and I are fighting an uphill battle against the culture to teach them about real beauty.

  6. DD

    I felt led to make the very unpopular decision during my kids’ younger years to NOT celebrate Halloween. Our entire family would enjoy a nice dinner out, then attend a local church’s fall festival. There were games, candy, fun, and opportunity to dress in appropriate costumes. I have no judgment for those who celebrate it, I did as a kid before becoming born again; but as one young boy explained his family’s decision in the most convicting way (for me), “Halloween is not honoring to God!” Touché, I thought… Although I realize the majority of people only observe Halloween in the spirit of fun (and not evil), the representations of evil surrounding the holiday was hard for me personally (I prefer to celebrate holidays that honor God or our country and its history). That said, my grown kids are quite angry about the decision we made. We encouraged them to dress in costumes for school, for play/make believe, and they all went on to become very involved in theatre. They ultimately resented missing out on the candy and fun. Fast forward– when they reached their teens we told them they were “old enough” to decide to celebrate, or not. Our daughters immediately became enamored of the “sexy” costumes– Sexy sailor girl, sexy Raggedy Anne… not because they were sexy, but because they thought they were cute. This is what society has done– it’s immunized our girls from being able to discern sexy from cute. In a few more years, I know my girls will realize the downfalls of provoking young men’s libidos by their costume choices… but I find it sad that even knowing what they do, they find it hard to swim against the tide of what is popular.

  7. Lisa

    My family does not celebrate Halloween, but we used to give out candy and Chick Tracts. I was even considering dressing up this year, but it would have purely been for fun and I wouldn’t have bought a costume. I probably would have dressed up as my favorite female profiler from Criminal Minds, my favorite TV show. I don’t like all the “sexy” costumes either. They show way to much skin for me to be comfortable even looking at them.

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