Love your Halloween costume

(This post is part of the 2011 Love Your Body Day Blog Carnival.)

An actual Sexy Pilgrim costume. This is not a joke. You would think it's a joke, but it's not.

Thanks to the good folks at NOW, October 19 has been designated Love Your Body Day. The way things are going with Halloween, I think October 31 should be called Patriarchy Day. It’s reached the point that unless you’re a size 2 lingerie model, you’re out of luck when it comes to costumes.

Sure, if you want to wear a microskirt and push-up bra and thigh-highs, then the world is your oyster. You have so much to choose from! Sexy Nurse or Sexy Witch or Sexy Cop or Sexy Parking Attendant or, I kid you not, Sexy Pilgrim. I haven’t seen a Sexy Abe Lincoln costume yet, but I’m sure it’s in the works somewhere. Microskirt, push-up bra, thigh-highs, plus a beard and a stovepipe hat. What’s sexier than the Gettysburg Address? So freaking hot.

This, people, is why Love Your Body Day even exists. Men don’t need a “Love Your Body” day because they’re not being bombarded from birth with a constant stream of messages telling them that: a) their degree of hotness is the only thing that matters about them, and b) said hotness comes in exactly one form (size 2, voluptuous, white).

Don’t get me wrong: I have no problem with sexiness. Women should have the freedom to dress however they want, and if any woman wants to go sexy for Halloween, good for her. What I have a problem with is when sexiness stops being a choice and starts becoming a requirement.

A post I saw on a college website a couple of years ago illustrates the point. A young woman had come up with a fabulous, creative idea for a historical costume, but she was too embarrassed to wear it. At her school, the only acceptable costume was the kind that comes in a Leg Avenue bag. It was Go Sexy or Go Home.

Some fun.

For me, it feels like patriarchy has invaded my favorite holiday. Halloween used to be wide open: costumes were all over the place, the more elaborate the better. Now everybody’s supposed to conform to the rigidly prescribed Sexy Female uniform.

That’s why we started Take Back Halloween. It’s a labor of love, our little attempt to break out of the uniform, to offer women costume ideas that span history and culture. You can go as a volcano or an Egyptian pharaoh or a 17th century Mexican nun or a 20th century nuclear physicist. Or a queen. Or an axe murderer. Or a movie star (which is actually a pretty sexy costume, in a very old school Hollywood way). Why not? Women don’t all come in the same shape and size, and neither should Halloween costumes.

Love your body, love your Halloween costume.

Posted in response to NOW’s Love Your Body Day Blog Carnival. Follow #lybd on Twitter.



10 Comments → “Love your Halloween costume”

  1. Erin Nieto


    I. Love. This. Can’t thank you enough for your push to recognize this diabolical trend.

    My son wanted to have a “Superheroes and Princesses” theme for his birthday party, so I set about finding a princess costume so that I could be the perfect host. Guess what options the costume shop provided? Slutty Princess or nothing at all, unless I could fit into a child’s 6x.


  2. BethanyB


    Just want to say, I had the same kind of experience! I thought for sure there would be a nice “princessy” costume or something like that (I’m going to a Middle Ages theme party), but all they had was stuff that looked like stripper costumes. It’s just beyond ridiculous now.

  3. JeninCanada


    This is really fantastic. I’ll be sharing your site all over and bookmarking it for next year!

  4. Jennifer Zynischer


    I am in awe of the amazing you are pulling together here.

    Every category had women and history I had never heard of. Guess I’m not as polymathic as I thought I was. Good job!

  5. Mari Mack


    LOVE this site! Can you please add a Frances Gabe, woman inventor to you site? she invented the self cleaning house.

  6. Sandy Parkinson


    You forgot Sexy Ninja Turtle– because we all know amphibians who eat pizza all day should wear micro-minis and thigh highs. I almost lost it when I saw this costume.

    I am so happy to have come across your site. Thanks for putting the sanity and the brains back into Halloween!

  7. Sandy Werner


    I just want to say what an *awesome* site this is. I *love* the history in it, the stories behind the costumes, all of it. I hope your site is available all year round so I can take my time and read all. Thank you for this!

  8. TifaIA


    Thank you all so much for creating this website! I was beginning to think I was one of the few sane people left in this world that felt this way about Halloween.

    Halloween is my holiday, and I started sewing my own costumes out of aggravation and depression against the wall of sexy costumes at party stores. The resources you all have pulled are great, and it’s nice to see alternatives to what’s available for the masses. And I’m glad that you all aren’t against sexy costumes (seems that too many people are extremes for one side or the other). We just want different options! XD

  9. Ellen C


    First off, love your site! I wish I’d found this a month ago.

    I had some ideas/requests – I know you are probably super busy, but these would be awesome! Could you include some historical bad girls as well? You don’t have to dress provocatively to be Nell Gwyn, Aphra Behn, Empress Wu, Anne Boleyn, Calamity Jane, or Dorothy Parker, for example…but it would be fun to channel that sort of trouble for a night! Even Circe or Morgan le Fay could be done. or a tastefully attractive Helen of Troy. And don’t forget Scathach!

    Also, adding literary characters would be great! Who hasn’t wanted to be Lizzy Bennet, or Shakespeare’s Beatrice? Modern characters would also be great if people wanted to have lower-effort costumes. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, for example…all you’d really need is a stake. There must be other modern characters/historical figures that would be worth emulating and where putting the costume together wouldn’t be so hard. Maybe Eleanor Roosevelt or Coco Chanel or Harriet Tubman.

    Finally- what about superheroines? I know we then run into the problem of the improbably perfect physiques – but it would be cool if you re-imagined some costumes. IE, in my search for the ideal costume, I saw some Wonderwoman costumes where instead of the starry underwear, they had blue slacks. I myself decided this year for a Jean Grey-Phoenix costume that pretty much covers every inch of my body.

    I know my comment sounds like I’m expecting you to do all my costume research for me…I am sorry! I just think what you’re doing is great and has so much potential and possibility. There are so many awesome women in mythology and literature and history to emulate – seems a pity that every Halloween, mostly I just see sexy kitty costumes.

    I am definitely checking your site first next year! I really appreciate the work you guys have done putting this together.

  10. Melissa S.


    Thank you, thank you! This really needed to be said. I’m glad there is still a community out there that prizes creativity over prescribed sexy. If you’re interested in seeing more great and creative homemade costumes, check out BurdaStyle ( It’s my favorite place to go for both costumes and clothing made by members and not just bought from a run-of-the-mill store.