10.28.2004

Lynn Yaeger, style columnist for The Village Voice, casts a critical eye on the Halloween marketplace:
So, OK, we understand that maybe you don't want to dress up like Madame Curie, or Amelia Bloomer, or even Lizzie Borden. But why should this mean that the most prominent liberated-woman costume on display is that of an 80-year-old stereotype, the flapper? Sadly, this fringed disguise hangs next to kits meant to turn you into a sniveling post-war bobby soxer or a hysterically conformist poodle-skirted co-ed, neither or whom were exactly icons of feminism.

Even outfits that might bespeak strength and power are frequently compromised by an undercurrent of sexual subjugation. So though there is no lack of firefighter uniforms for men, the female version is called Fire Fox. (Could she be the New York Post's famous firehouse nympho?) Likewise, the woman police officer is known as Officer McNaughty.

Though there are bountiful offerings for men of medicine, including a blood- soaked Dr. Kill Joy and a foaming mad scientist, Nurse Feelbetter is all-girl. (In fairness, there is a white coat inscribed Dr. Ophelia Cummings, sex therapist, M.D.) But there is one institution that is definitely female-friendly: the insane asylum, where the voluptuous inmate suffers in a vinyl shorts-and-chains combo.

Could restrictive career choices have led to this stint in the loony bin?
I don't think I've ever purchased a package costume before, and Yaeger's critique would probably explain my lack of initiative to visit Halloween stores. I usually just put something together myself. I'm going as Bonnie Parker this year.

There's a great sequence in Mean Girls that occurs when Cady fails to realize that female American teenagers always go with some variant on the sexy animal theme.

UPDATE: Okay, I would go to this store [link via boingboing].

-Lauren
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