"Halloween is the one night a year when girls can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it." --Mean Girls
I don't know when it happened, but somehow Halloween went from candy and orange and black to the one-day slutwear-fest. Annette and I went out on Friday (not in costume) and while I was waiting to meet her at the T, several huge groups of women walked onto the subway wearing little more than fishnets and a bustier. I felt like my mother, mentally chiding them for walking around outside with their bits hanging out. Last year, I fell prey to the "sexy" costume-- but it was a last-minute "sexy nurse" which was funny because I was in fact nursing my mother back to health after her surgery, and my boyfriend was a doctor. And my boobs and ass were at least covered, which is more than I can say for the majority of the women I saw this weekend.
I'd like to get all philosophical about this, but Ellen Goodman over at the Globe did a much better job of it than I will right now. She brings up the counterpoint of a British woman who was fired from her job because she wouldn't remove her veil, and sums it up nicely:
Here in America, our Halloween revelers have only the scantiest -- and I do mean scantiest -- idea of how the market has shaped the options that they regard as their own. Most women are only dimly aware of how we internalize the liposuctioned, breast-implanted, celebrity-shaped images that define the "right" female body. They are even less aware of a culture that defines sexy as something seen rather than felt.
I saw this yesterday when shopping-- the Pru had a trick-or-treating day at the stores, and one girl who couldn't have been more than eight was a witch (or a pop-star) wearing a black skirt and a belly shirt. A young girl who hadn't even started with puberty was baring her midriff, her mother smiling on happily. It was disturbing. If I ever have a girl, I am going to feel like Sisyphus, pushing that whole ball of cultural pressure to be sultry and hot to be worth anything up a hill, trying to convince her that her mind is more valuable than her cup size.