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! 


Harlow Darling said...

Beautiful photos! How lovely that you are looking after that baby swallow, I'm sure you will take good care of him :) I too am not fond of the sexy Halloween costumes ahhh...

Ivana Split said...

I've read somewhere that the parents of the baby birds won't accept it if they feel the human smell of them- that is why we shouldn't pick up the baby birds when they fall out of nest...but what should we do with poor things! I still think it is better to save them even if it means that the parents won't accept it.

Lately there are so many birds around my house...some of them ( I heard) can be sold for a lot of money. So, I feel quite protective myself. I hope no one will try to catch them ...I think people don't do that anymore, but still I'm on a lookout.

Interesting points about Halloween...where I'm from people don't celebrate Halloween so I never thought about it much. It is a holiday here but more religious and so are the one really gets dressed up or anything like that.

Vix said...

Beautiful you, gorgeous photos. Poor little Colin, he's really taken to you, hasn't he? xxx

Jacqueline Stewart said...

Colin is adorable! I love this post too Willow, Halloween and Christmas scare me with their incessant consumerism, and being a small business owner I ranted about the 'shut up and buy' culture we're developing in Australia recently on my facebook page, in which I ended the rant concluding I was only going to support small businesses for christmas and birthday presents from now on. ;)
I also understand the 'sexy' costumes conundrum and it certainly contributes to my dislike of halloween...but i mainly don't like it in aus cos it's the wrong season for its original purpose. :)

Citizen Rosebud said...

Hello sweet pea. As always a poetic way you share things. Stay lovely.

Jean at said...

Lovely to hear from you and I'm sorry it took me so long to post your comment! I enjoyed this read. I've never been mush for Halloween either except when my children were little and we made funny costumes. I always end up thinking that people should dress like it's Halloween all year long because it's the only time they let their fantastical selves out, which seems a shame. i also agree with your points about the commercial costumes available for girls and women. Ugh. Just like it makes me CRAZY when I end up in a commercial toy store around Christmas. The way they market for boys and girls is nauseating.

Lastly, I want to make sure I tell you how lovely you look. Your mum takes great pictures too. XXOO

Izzy DM said...

Hey Willow,

I can't believe you're only 15-years-old. So much wisdom, perspective, and insight in this post, especially with the awareness that it's important not to slut-shame the girl who are mindlessly or sometimes accidentally participating in their own objectification. I took my toddler to a toddler hallowe'en parade this year, and it was amazing to see it starting so early: boys as active, cool superheroes and girls as dopey-looking disney princesses, all with ropes of long blonde hair a la Elsa. My daughter was dressed as a Baby Yoda, and everyone thought she was a boy! It's been interesting to see what a construct gender is when we're very young, how strongly it's imposed from outside.

So happy to stumble upon your blog! You look so much like Roz, too, one of my favoritest people on the planet, and you write really well, just as she does. Looking forward to following your posts! xx

Carlota Antolin Vallespin said...

I am sorry I took so long to comment here. I love this post: I love your green soul and the amazing connection you have with nature. I love the autumn too and Halloween :)

You guested it right, this witchy place is where I live. And you can imagine how happy I am because of my great luck. I always wanted to be a witch, I always feel like one. But now there is no doubt that I finally became one. :)

I hope you post soon again.


Rosalind said...

As I tweeted when I first read this, 'Talking of great blogs, Halloween may be over but this....on costumes & sexism remains a fab read', and so it does. Really great set of observations.
How lovely of Izzy - above - as well. She is an excellent writer; I love her posts and all her other writing.
And funny that Izzy should comment on us looking similar, when I had also said how much like Evangeline Ling I thought you looked here. Perhaps the three of us should get together for a trio photo shoot and pretend to be siblings!