When did best costume contests turn into a competition for who would bare the most flesh?

The year; 1979. The costumes; cops and robbers, Minnie Mouse, witches, wizards and the like. Troops of children paraded up and down neighboring streets trick or treating, shepherded by tired, but watchful parents. Inside, grownups answered the knocks and doorbell rings, gave out candy, and filled Unicef boxes with pennies. Once home, pillowcases were dumped out and the loot raked through for errant razor blades or needles. Life was simple(r).

A few adults threw Halloween parties after the kids went to bed, showing off their homemade lion costumes with the baggy seats and drooping tails, their Cleopatra wraps held modestly closed with golden cords, and set off with flat, glittery sandals. Pictures of adorable parents and children were snapped. The emphasis was on the costume and the person wearing it, not the amount of flesh showing.

When did Halloween turn into a skin-baring one-upmanship?

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Yesterday, inspired by yet another meme on yet another social media site, a realization surfaced and I began to wonder WTF happened to Halloween, the one night a year when people could be anything, anything at all. I remember clever costumes: a person falling out a window, the man’s tie skewered with the wire from a hanger so it flew up over his head; the cereal killer get-up with the person dressed as a silver spoon. I guess if those costumes debuted this year they would be deemed unacceptable, boring, not worthy of even an eye roll. This begs another question about the changing tides of Halloween, are the scant costumes what men really want?

Looking at this Halloween costume meme from Cheezburger, can’t you hear the conversation a mother and father have with their child, recounting the magic moment they met?  Eyes lock across a crowded costume party. “I noticed, through your mom’s plastic, see-through beer cup, she could use a refill.” “And then your father sauntered over, as well as anyone dressed as a toilet can saunter.” Mom stifles a giggle in her palm, her eyes lost in memory. “Well, me being sexy poo and him as a clever potty, you can see how things just happened naturally.” She’ll smile, and tuck a strand of her child’s hair behind scorching, humiliated ears. “It’s why we call you our little doodle, honey.” The parents indulge in another chortle, reaching for each other’s hands as their offspring tears from the room screaming.

Sexy poo, depicted with a curly mass of brown foam on her head, as she walks regally in her brown mini skirt and belly shirt, holding a roll of toilet paper in a come-hither manner. Sexy cockroach, cleavage hiked to her chin (an anatomical representation of  any cockroach, if you’ve searched Google Images ), thigh-highs leading down to stilettos — a fashion witnessed on most disease-laden vermin.  When did everything become sexy? A frying pan? I’ve never seen a cop in garters pull anyone over on the freeway, and I can’t believe stupid sexy is what real men want. I don’t want to believe this is what men of substance want.

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Aren’t we better than this? I’m looking at YOU, Party City, and your shameless altering of the female police officer’s uniform, of toddler girls wearing the same flimsy make believe attire-up as their MILF mothers. Where does the insanity of sexting up every last scrap of clothing stop? And why in the world does the objectifying of the female species begin before children can utter a contextually accurate sentence? Why do pageant mothers layer and ladle on makeup onto the precious, perfect faces of their daughters, teach them to walk in heels, before they’re stable walkers in tennis shoes ? And where are the outraged fathers standing beside their tuned-out partners? Where are their voices, their defenses for their daughters?

I’m looking at YOU, Target, and your ONE INCH inseam on girl’s clothing, on your zealous need for dollars, not sense. On refusing to pave a fashionable and respectable road for impressionable children to follow. These occurrences with these two mega-stores feed directly into the decision to transform Halloween from a quirky, creative, burgeoning, regular holiday to an excuse to dress up en massse as sex objects.

WTF happened to Halloween?

Marketing happened. Profit happened, the opportunity to sell-out and exploitation leading to monstrous profits happened. Again, we have pandered, and again, we have been toppled by the masses consumed with the almighty dollar, with the need to survive, instead of realizing we need to reset the moral standard so our children don’t have to grow up and wage the same senseless, sexist and misogynistic battles we fight. No growth or forward momentum can be expected on a trash-heap diet.

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I have shopped for my young girl, skipping over the low-cut, and high-slit princess costumes, letting down hems so inappropriate for a 9-year old, but ideal if I wished her to be expelled from the school’s Halloween parade, or school altogether.

Sexy killers. Sexy clowns. Sexy plumbers. (I never realized some would regard a plumber’s butt as a turn on, but I guess there’s a market for anyone). Sexy cops, costumes available from Party City for any age as shown on the Facebook Page for Women You Should Know (and yes, they asked if we found it as disturbing as they did.) Sexy unicorns, complete with penis horns,  rutting dogs and babies and vegetables, oh my.

Men, real men are asking for the dignity of being treated like a person with depth and feelings, intuition, and consideration. Doesn’t caving to this lowest level of evolution rob men, knock them down a peg in the battle to be taken seriously? I have to think the men I know would like to see a creative costume as much as a sexy one, would support the women in their lives having fun, instead of flaunting it all, would not want to fortify the message that woman are all about the body and seldom few about the mind, would shout down the catcalls debasing women, would want her to feel of some worth. Because she is. Because he is.

So let’s make a movement. Next Halloween, try for a unique idea, sit and ponder and take a few turns with the glue gun or sewing needle. Cut out some construction paper, or visit Goodwill to snap up bargains on old clothes. Forget about the amount of skin we are supposed to show, forget trying to feel sexy and go as a crazy cat lady or a giant, cuddly Panda Bear instead. WTF happened to Halloween? Who knows? Let’s take it back. For our children. For us.

Original article appeared at The Good Men ProjectReprinted with permission.

Photo: Facebook/Women You Should Know

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