Photo: The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
Even though anything can and will inevitably be turned into a sexy Halloween costume, does that mean everything should be a sexy version of itself? Take, for example, Yandy’s “Brave Red Maiden Costume” inspired by Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale that the site removed from its costume selection on Thursday.
To catch up those who don’t watch, The Handmaid’s Tale is the story of life in the dystopia of Gilead, a totalitarian society in what was formerly part of the United States. Facing environmental disasters and a plunging birthrate, Gilead is ruled by a fundamentalist regime that treats women as property of the state. As one of the few remaining fertile women, Offred (Elisabeth Moss) is a Handmaid in the Commander’s household, one of the caste of women forced into sexual servitude as a last desperate attempt to repopulate a devastated world. In this terrifying society where one wrong word could end her life, Offred navigates between Commanders, their cruel wives, domestic Marthas, and her fellow Handmaids — where anyone could be a spy for Gilead – all with one goal: to survive and find the daughter that was taken from her.
— Yandy.com (@Yandy) September 21, 2018
Outraged voices explained that making a sexy version of the outfit is making light of sexual assault and of women’s oppression. As one Twitter user put it: “Our society doesn’t take the rape of real women seriously, why should they take the rape of fictional women seriously?”
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On the opposite side, those who support the costume say that the outfit is an ironic statement and that the sexy version is supporting female empowerment. Some have compared the costume to other common sexy Halloween outfits, such as the Sexy Nurse or Sexy Cop, complaining that they’ll be the next to go because of being politically correct.
However, you can easily argue, because of the context of the series (based on the book by Margaret Atwood) and of the circumstances attached to why women in The Handmaid’s Tale are forced to wear the red dress, that the costume is offensive, or at the very least, counterproductive.
We also need to shut down those trying to use the women who have worn the Handmaid’s dress as a form of protest to try and argue on behalf of the sexy costume: The protest dresses weren’t made to look sexy, and they were worn for the literal reason of expressing how women do not want to be oppressed by politicians and society. The two circumstances are not synonymous.
This isn’t about telling women what they can and can’t wear — even if it’s not sold online or in stores, I’m sure there will be someone out there on Halloween night sporting their own handmade sexy Handmaid’s dress, but that there is something offensive about a retailer sexualizing rape victims fictional or otherwise and making light of what the red dress actually represents for the women in the story.
If you want to dress sexy for Halloween, go for it! That’s not the issue. Some of us simply feel that sexy on Halloween doesn’t have to directly reference rape and oppression is all.
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No matter where you fall on the controversy, I think we can all agree that not every fictional character needs a sexy Halloween costume of themselves. Below is a short list of characters (out of many) that should never be turned into a sexy costume, but, sadly, inevitably will (if they don’t exist already):
Sexy Stranger Things
Photo: Stranger Things (Netflix)
We already have creepy sexy costumes of The Brady Bunch kids, let’s please not continue the trend of sexing-up children or teenagers this (or any) Halloween. Sorry, Drake.
Sexy Losers Club
Photo: It (New Line Cinema)
See: Sexy Stranger Things
Sexy Camille Preaker
Photo: Sharp Objects (HBO)
I love Amy Adams as much as the next person, but no matter how amazing Sharp Objects was, don’t attach fake self-harm scars to your body. It would be as offensive as that awful eating disorder costume. Don’t use sexy costumes to make light of mental health disorders, period.
Photo: Jurassic World (Universal Pictures)
Maybe it’s just me, but those cute inflatable dinosaur costumes are enough. Blue didn’t save the day to be turned into a sexy Halloween costume, okay?
Sexy Dwight Schrute
Photo: The Office (NBC)
We love Dwight. But we don’t need Sexy Dwight costumes running rampant on Halloween.
Sexy Schindler’s Cast
Photo: Schindler’s List (Universal Studios)
Just… no. I feel gross even typing that. There’s a reason I included it, though, because if you think designers would never go that far, think again…
Sexy Pocahontas, Mulan, Maui…
Photo: Pocahontas, Mulan, Moana (Walt Disney Pictures)
White people, stop appropriating culture.