The Women’s Resource Center’s weekly “Gender Talk” meeting on Wednesday discussed how women are limited to costumes that are overly traditional and sexy.
According to a study by the Journal on Psychology of Women in 2000, most children’s Halloween costumes reiterate the conventional notions of gender with boy costumes having more superhero and villain options and girls with the narrow options of a Princess or beauty queen.
“I love Halloween and it should be a time for people to play with roles that are different,” said Beverly McPhail, Director of the Women’s Resource Center.
“Unfortunately it is becoming about women and their sexuality instead of letting them experiment with different roles.”
During the meeting, creative writing senior Joy Lester shared a story about the time that her mother finally let her dress as a male character after many failed attempts.
“I have two brothers. I’m the only girl and my mother has always wanted me to dress up in really girly, princess-type of costumes and that’s not what I wanted to be,” Lester said.
“I was so happy when she finally let me dress as Van Helsingn; it was so much fun.”
The group also argued on negative judgment and perception that women receive when they do decide to have fun and dress risqué on Halloween.
“Many times, when a woman decides to dress a certain way on Halloween people assume things and project things that she might not want,” McPhail said.
The major problem the women in the group faced is the lack of variety available to them on a holiday in which people are encouraged to be someone different.
“This is very despairing for women. We are all unique and the costumes available do not reflect that,” said Amanda Williams, social work graduate.
“There is an assumption that our worth is based on how sexy we are and this allows us to lose sight of other ways available for us to express ourselves.”
The group shifted its focus of discussion toward the double standard that exists when men and women decide to wear costumes that show their skin.
Men often wear costumes that don’t require shirts without being objectified. Women, however, are immediately objectified if they show legs or cleavage.
History senior Lyndsie Harris argued that the double standard takes the fun out of the celebration.
“Women’s costumes are limited to the sexy type and this is changing the spirit of Halloween,” Harris said. “Instead of dressing as goofy characters you are expected to dress more scandalous.”