October 20, 2006
How short will your skirt be on Halloween?
Here’s a bit of semi-fun, semi-seriousness.
Two interesting–provokative?–articles about women’s Halloween costumes.
The first from the New York Times. I admit just reading the intro paragraph is a bit of a turn-on:
IN her thigh-highs and ruby miniskirt, Little Red Riding Hood does not appear to be en route to her grandmother’s house. And Goldilocks, in a snug bodice and platform heels, gives the impression she has been sleeping in everyone’s bed. There is a witch wearing little more than a Laker Girl uniform, a fairy who appears to shop at Victoria’s Secret and a cowgirl with a skirt the size of a tea towel.
Of course, I am picturing my wife in these outfits. Really.
What I find puzzling is this little observation from one of them “experts” we’re always reading about:
“Decades after the second wave of the women’s movement, you would expect more of a gender-neutral range of costumes,” said Adie Nelson
Because, yeah, girls want to look like men all the time.
Gray, drab dress pants are fine, and I’m hardly an expert, but I see a lot of women being taken seriously without sacrificing their femininity.
Further down, another puzzle:
Deborah Tolman, the director of the Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality at San Francisco State University and a professor of human sexuality studies there, found that some 30 teenage girls she studied understood being sexy as “being sexy for someone else, not for themselves,” she said.
When the girls were asked what makes them feel sexy, they had difficulty answering, Dr. Tolman said, adding that they heard the question as “What makes you look sexy?”
Yes, it is puzzling how anybody can think the most basic social impulse has anything to do with attracting the attention of other people.
Remember–I’m not saying this because I’m a hot, sexy thing who likes to strut my stuff. I’d be better off if everybody wore paper bags over their heads. I’m just a realist.
With names like “Transylvania Temptress,” “Handy Candy,” “Major Flirt,” and “Red Velvet Devil Bride,” there is no doubt that costumes marketed to children and teens have become more suggestive.
If you know me, you probably know I have a hard enough time buying into the whole little-girl-dreams-of-being-a-princess schtick that children are taught. (I mean, politically, you do know princes and princesses exist on the backs of other people for no reason other than their heritage… right? And that dreaming of marrying rich is probably the worst dream you can foist upon your child if you want her to be successful in life? Yes?)
I sympathize very much with the intent to show children–especially girls–that there’s more to life than “looking pretty” for other people, and this article has some good parenting advice. (Where, by “good,” I mean, “seems reasonable,” though I have not tried it myself, so I have no idea how practical and, hence, good the advice actually is.)
Judging from the average gallery of 13, 12, and even 11 year-old girls I see strutting around with their mothers and grandmothers in Victoria’s Secret (and even the outlet malls!!), a lot of parents are ill-equipped to, well, be parents. I mean, these girls have less subtlety than the average crack-addicted prostitute walking the street. But let’s forget that can of worms. Teenagers go through phases.
The biggest challenge I see, the biggest dilemma facing our ever-sexualized culture, is that so much of mainstream sexuality does–to paraphrase the NYT article–“indulge male lolita fantasies.” Is that indulgence warranted?
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a costume to order for my wife… and I need to shorten my own skirt this year. Need to “keep up with the joneses” and all that.