I walked past the displays for the sexy devil and the sexy bunny and the sexy leopard : which, confounding logic, was already sold out : before happening upon the wall of full adult costumes. The first was Tavern Lady, an off-the-shoulder dress and faux-leather vest. It was followed by French Maid (ruffled mini-dress with matching headpiece), Cheerleader (pleated micro-mini and fitted vest) and Wonder Woman, which had not only a nearly invisible skirt but also red vinyl boot covers that reached to the thigh.
At $49.99, Wonder Woman was among the priciest costumes, along with the Geisha : both $20 more than Stewardess, which consisted only of a polyester wrap dress with a plunging neckline.
A quick trip to Wal-Mart and Kmart revealed the same dubious selections. While the hemlines were slightly lower on the Kmart French Maid and Cheerleader, Wal-Mart hewed to form with a saucy Red Riding Hood and a naughty rag doll, advertising a”sultry vinyl bodice and thigh highs … lollipop not included.”
A theme was emerging. And it wasn’t Halloween. Since when did Halloween costumes become marital aids? The hobo has turned into the Hillbilly Honey. The traditional vampire is now the Mistress of Darkness. I have nothing against playing erotic dress-up, or even mass-market fetishism. I’d just prefer it didn’t converge with a family holiday (and wasn’t sold next to the dryer sheets). If you want to play cheerleader at home, go team. But trick-or-treating with your children in anything featuring latex and cleavage seems like a little too much trick.
And really, wasn’t Halloween the one day modern women could relax about looking hot? What if I just want to be a mummy sans yummy?
I noticed that on the outside of every package was a photo of a woman modeling not only the costume, but teetering heels and bras of the push-up variety. The First Lady costume was not, as one might expect, a red business suit, but a pink crepe mini-dress. At least it had the matching pillbox hat. The angel was dubbed”heaven’s hottie.”Even the witch had a slit up her tattered skirt.
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Update: Echidne of the Snakes noted that in response to this column, Jonah Goldberg wrote at the National Review Online:
“For the record, my daughter will be a princess this year. Last year she was a cowgirl. In the future she wants to be a “doggy-doctor,” a cowgirl again, and a witch. She has plenty of ideas on the subject and feminism hasn’t entered into any of them as yet.”
Being a cowgirl is not feminist? How many cowgirls do you remember from the old Wild West movies? How many female “doggy-doctors” were there before the second wave of feminism? Was it Jerry Falwell* who said that feminism would make women leave their husbands and turn to witchcraft? You get the point. Mr. Goldberg doesn’t seem to realize how very much his daughter owes feminism already.