Friday, 31 October 2014

Scary Stuff

Halloween - Hallowe'en, All Hallow's Eve, AllHalloween, All Saints' Eve: a yearly celebration marked by orange pumpkins, jiggling plastic skeletons, dress-ups, parties, sugar, witch's hats and an overuse of the word 'spooky'. It's the time when Halloween specials come up on television and cringe-worthy marketing techniques resurface; shaken out and dusted off once again to sell, sell, sell - as cheesy and predictable as the last 152 times.

For me, October 31st is a day of eye-rolls and mutterings of "Wow, haven't heard that one before" (in response to the aforementioned cringe-worthy marketing techniques) - and this year, it's also the day that the carton of milk in our fridge passes its use-by-date - that's about it. While it's not something that I generally get involved in, I still do enjoy seeing how others celebrate and get creative with it: my social media feeds filled with inventive make-up ideas, DIY decorations and some excellent costumes.

However, I do have some issues with Halloween. My problems with it, much like my problems with Christmas, Easter and the like, are the really scary things about the occasion - not the appearance of vampires, devils, witches, ghouls and ghosts, but the extra harm done to the planet and the many Halloween costumes that objectify women.

The shouts of "Buy me, buy me!" from cheap, plastic crap - no doubt made by slaves in China - are distinctly louder in the time leading up to occasions like these. Individual plastic packaging for each bullet-sized lolly, toxic dyes from making costumes washing into rivers, costumes and decorations made from environmentally unfriendly materials, and excessive amounts of waste, etc - all equate to an environmental nightmare.
But you don't have to partake in any of that: costumes can be handmade, borrowed from a friend, rented, created with clothes from the back of your wardrobe, ethically made, second hand, or at least be reworn.

And then there's the sexism. Out of all festivities, I think that Halloween probably holds the shiny gold trophy for costumes that sexualise women. They go as far as a sexy snowman from a children's Disney movie - hot, right? The objectification of women in Halloween costumes is especially noticeable when seen in contrast to the same costumes, but for men. Where a costume for men might be marketed as funny, scary, or evil, the version for women is more likely to be labelled 'sexy' or 'naughty'.

On the other end of the teeterboard, comes the slut-shaming. When we call out stuff like this, it's important to not respond with more sexism and shame girls who wear sexy outfits. The problem is more that these costumes are pretty much all of what's on offer, and that that participates in giving society the screwed up idea that the most important thing about women is how they look to men - which is so far from the truth.

As much as I detest the fact that almost all the costumes for women that you'll find in your average cheap store or shopping centre are sexually objectifying, I'm not going to judge anyone who wears them. If you like it and you want to wear it, then wear it - it's completely your choice. There's nothing wrong with wanting to look sexy.

Although, if you are looking for some women's Halloween costumes that are about more than looking sexy, A Mighty Girl has some brilliant ideas for girls and women of all ages here.

So, with that being said, I hope everyone enjoys their day, whether you celebrate the holiday or not. The dress and heels seen above and below were taken off hours ago, so I think for Halloween I'm just going to go as the (very tongue-in-cheek) girl who forgot to shave her armpits, because nothing scares people like female body hair, right?

My familiar, Colin. This baby swallow fell out of its nest a week ago, rather luckily falling into a box full of fabric. We put it back, but there were no other siblings (when there was the day before) and its parents never came back for it. I'm actually starting to become a bit of a protective mummy bird. 
Photos courtesy of my mum

The vintage handmade dress was bought at a charity shop, and so were the heels - which I towered in, as they put me over six feet tall! To prove that you can source your entire Halloween costume ethically, I'd also like to note that the under shorts were upcycled from a pair of holey tights, the crop top underneath is a hand-me-down from my sister, and my knickers are from ethical UK company Who Made Your Pants? - they even go with my outfit, as they're green!