Afternoon Inquisition

AI: I don’t want to be a sexy Halloween anything

It’s Halloween, which honestly is an entomologist’s favorite holiday. Stores are filled with costumes and swag covered with insects and spiders.  It’s also the one time of the year (outside of cons) that you can dress up as an insect and no one will look at you funny.

I am incredibly frustrated, though, by the array of costumes being marketed to women and girls.  Pretty much EVERY costume is a “Sexy ______”.  Seriously, how the hell is this a ladybug?  This is just not practical for a predatory insect–this chick is never gonna catch any aphids in those heels.


Having worn costumes like this, I can tell you it is not much fun. You have to worry about your boobs falling out. You worry about falling off of your shoes. I want a costume I can dance in.  I want a costume that is clever. I don’t mind being sexy, but I think sexy comes from being smart, not from letting everyone look at my buttcrack.

Would I feel that way if I wasn’t at the half-century mark in age? I don’t know, but even when I *was* young and Hawt I didn’t dress like this. Here’s a costume of mine from 1987–I went as a parasitized tobacco hornworm.  At the time, I was averaging nearly 200 miles/week on my bike.  You could have bounced a quarter off my ass, I was so buff.  And I wasn’t really letting it all hang out then.  It’s just not me.

On the other hand, I really do envy women that *can* dress like this and be comfortable.  One of my favorite parts of SkepchickCon is looking at the costumes.  I have no idea what this woman is dressed as, but OMG do I like it.  There is an entire website devoted to people dressed in Leia’s Metal Bikini, and a PSA video about Slave Leia Costume Fatigue.  The Sexy _____ costume is definitely here to stay.

What about you? What are you going to be for Halloween?  Do you feel comfortable letting it all hang out, or are you more modest?


Bug_girl has a PhD in Entomology, and is a pointy-headed former academic living in Ohio. She is obsessed with insects, but otherwise perfectly normal. Really! If you want a daily stream of cool info about bugs, follow her Facebook page or find her on Twitter.

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    1. I made an account just to tell you I love you. Or rather, love MST3K and that you’re dressing as “The Mads”.

    1. Any outfit prefixed with “space” is guaranteed to be full of win.

      In fact whenever I see a “Sexy Something” outfit advertised in the future I’m just going to imagine it says “Space Something” instead. Space Nurse! Space Pirate! SPACE LADYBUG!

      1. That’s funny, I’ve always thought so too- I was a space pirate two years’ in a row for Halloween. :P

      2. The following immediately sprang to mind.
        From Castle

        Alexis Castle: What exactly are you supposed to be?
        Richard Castle: Space cowboy.
        Alexis Castle: Ok, A: There are no cows in space. B: Didn’t you wear that like five years ago?
        Richard Castle: So?
        Alexis Castle: So, don’t you think you should move on?
        Richard Castle: I like it.

  1. I went as Wednesday Addams last year, and this year will probably be my SCA costume. I think the sexy ____ was more fun when every day wasn’t sexy ____. By the time Halloween rolls around, I’m tired of seeing it. I’d much rather see a clever or well-done costume.

  2. Someone I know went to a Halloween party dressed as “Cannibal Barbi”; clever, visually interesting (headband with detached barbi-doll heads attached, fake blood), creepy-scary, comfortable (I don’t think the rest of the clothing was skimpy or high-heeled).

  3. I refuse to dress as “sexy” anything, because my purpose at Halloween is not decorative– the same reason I refuse to wear a teeny bikini to swim. When I dress up at Halloween, I want people to look at me and think, “Fun costume!” not “OMG BOOBS!”

  4. Last year I went as a sexy Alice. I liked it, because I like the books, but I did feel self-conscious the entire time. This year I almost recycled the same costume for fiscal sake, but in addition to not wanting to dress slutty (again), the stores were saturated with Alice costumes, thanks to Burton’s movie.

    So, this year I came as a walking (and specific) logical fallacy. :) It required scrubs, and I was extremely comfortable!

  5. I tend to be a little too modest to let it all hang out. But one of these days, if I can get really into shape, I’m going to be a sexy satyr. But first I have to actually find a social life so I actually have a party to go too.

    I’ve given up on clever costumes, and anymore just put on my Civil War uniform (I do re-enacting). For years I wore torn up clothes, sandals, a sailors hat with “Mary Celeste” on it, and carried a basket with a coconut, bananas, and a bottle with a note in it. Nobody got it. Even after ‘Castaway’ came out.

    1. After my post I looked at the ads on the side, and saw “sexy orange tiger”, “sexy watermelon”, “sexy peacock by Bridget”, and “sexy banana”.

      Well, at least there’s a healthy selection of fruit…

  6. Halloween, the evening where I make sure there’s no visible light emanating from the house, and I have a good movie and some decent Scotch. Bah humbug and get off my lawn!

  7. Hippie Rainbow: red wig, orange cardigan over loose yellow shirt, flowing green skirt over flowing blue long skirt, purple tights. White curly ribbon on top for the clouds and plastic coins glued to black shoes for the pot o’ gold. Everybody loves rainbows.

  8. As I posted on my Facebook account the other day:

    (* Nine-year-old daughter *) and I looked over a catalog that included costumes for girls her age. My responses went something like this:

    “No”. “No”. “Nine-year-old girls do not wear 4-inch skirts”. “No”. “That one is OK”. “No belly shirts”. “Over my dead body”. “No”. “No”. “No”.

    Ah, Halloween. When pre-teens are apparently supposed to pretend that they’re 21.

  9. Huxley is at that awkward age … to old to fit in the baby chicken costume, not quite big enough to be an M&M.

    He’ll probably be a frog this year.

    1. When my daughter was that age, I had a hand-me-down frog costum. To make it more fun I stitched “Kiss Me” on the back.
      It was a big hit.

      1. Oh and that daughter is now 8 and will be Hermoine from HP. I got her a Gryffindor robe and tie for her recent birthday (had a very busy HP party!)
        Don’t know what I’ll do yet. I always forget to take the time to be clever and just put on a witch hat.

  10. I’ve got a 2 year old Dinosaur, a 4 year old Giraffe, and a witch/princess/something from the 6 year old Hellion. Myself, I need a new ghost mask to hand out candy in. It’s been so long since I really dressed up…

  11. I had a hell of a time finding a costume that I could wear as class mother at my son’s preschool “Harvest Ball”. Nothing too sexy or too scary! Zombie hooker was not the best idea for this crowd! I found exactly 3 costumes, out of several dozen, that were appropriate. I ended up picking a really nice “lady vampire” dress that looks pretty gothic. If I had time and/or talent I could make something, but I had to buy off the rack and it was a tough (and fairly expensive) hunt.

  12. I like to take “Sexy ____” as a challenge to make the most unsexy and inappropriate selection to go with sexy. This year I’m torn between Sexy Alzheimer’s Lady and Sexy Chemo Lady. According to my friends, Sexy Mother Theresa isn’t offensive enough.

  13. Would you believe I make corsets and wedding gowns for a living and I have no idea what to wear for Halloween this year?

  14. Um, am I completely out of form if I say that to me as a young male “young woman dressing up as X” is almost always “Sexy X”. Isn’t it a crucial fact that men tend to be more kinky or kinky-curious over all (my source for this would be the eminent Dan Savage)?

    Other than that I don’t think the “Sexy_____” costumes as advertised are that sexy and if impractical to wear I wouldn’t recommend them. Needless to say I’ve always felt that carnival days like Halloween can be slightly liberating because women are given a pass on “sexy” or “slutty” clothing (just like everyone at the beach is), when usually they would be criticised as being sluts or whores by men and women alike for dressing revealingly in public.

    But then I’m a man partially ignorant of how women feel about things and rather ignorant about the nature of US Halloween celebrations.

    1. The kink community seems pretty evenly distributed to me (and of course, you just ignored everyone who isn’t identified as man/woman).

      And I don’t think most Halloween costumes count too much towards kink, unless you’re actually at a kink event in a latex nun costume. Crappy polyester Sexy Cop at a bar, eh.

  15. I am not too good at picking costumes, so I’ve gone mostly as sexy witch or sexy cowboy…which is basically me throwing a hat onto my normal club clothes. I like short skirts, and frequently cleavage. Dancing in pants is too warm for me.

    This year I’m going as Huckleberry Pie, and my friends will be Strawberry Shortcake and Bitch Pudding (a twisted Lemon Meringue). So I won’t be sexy. Unless I go to two parties, the second one I’ll probably go as Firefox.

  16. (Of course, in northerly climes like mine, the word “sexy” in the sexy costume descriptions should probably be replaced with “soon to be dead from exposure”)

  17. If one must wear a sexy Halloween costume, I suggest something unusual. Such as a sexy yeti, or a sexy sewer goblin, for example. Make it a challenge!

  18. I was dreading going to the Halloween store (when did these spring into existance anyway?) with my 9-year-old because of the sexy _____ problem and because of the price (you want HOW much for plastic and nylon?).
    After asking about a butterfly costume that was rejected because of price ($50 for a set of wings and a tutu? Butterflys have tutus?) she fell in love with a ninja costume and is constantly getting “I didn’t know girls could be ninjas” when ever she is asked what she is going to be to which she answers that “girls can be what ever they want to be.”
    She rocks so much. :)

  19. There has been a change in the Halloween zeitgeist over the last 2 decades. There was a time when Halloween involved dressing up in a scary costume. Now, the number of monsters, maulers, mad scientists, etc., has declined considerably.

    In their place, any Halloween Party will demonstrate that the pimps and hos have arrived in force. Any formerly scary costume, especially for women, is now a “sexy” costume – witches have to be hot witches – nurses are never evil, they’re always “naughty,” and it’s almost as if it is a requirement that women have bare midriffs and cleavage showing.

    I don’t complain – just pointing out the fact. I like going to parties full of half-naked hot women. The only thing I wish would be for the costumes to be a bit scarier – some harkening back to when Halloween was about ghosts, goblins and vampires.

  20. I’m going dressed in a mishmash of steampunk stuff as a “tribute” to a super-cheesy steampunk panel my friends and I attended at NY Comic Con.

  21. I guess I’m doing a big of drag this year. My boyfriend is going as Walter White from “Breaking Bad”, and so I’m going as Jesse Pinkman. We think it should work, because he’s a lot taller than I am, and he’s shaved his head bald.

  22. My best friend’s 11-year-old kid went as a nerdy vampire last year. I think she’s doing another “nerd” riff this year. I think “space-” or “nerd-” versions of otherwise sexified costumes would be awesome. A nerdy cat! a nerdy nurse! a nerdy bee!

  23. Delaney is going to be Rosie the Riveter.
    Moose is Luke Skywalker… which included several hours of me trying to figure out the difference between Obi One and Luke Skywalker and trying to figure out why there are so many different Jedi uniforms. I guess in other galaxies, no one cares about the whole “we dress like a team” thing. And none of the costumes come with gold medals, which I guess is because that’s a spoiler?

    Me, I’m going as the 99%. I’m going to occupy my children’s bags of chocolate greed. Because it’s high time adults took back Halloween.

    1. Obi Wan

      And, Jedi don’t wear uniforms.

      The Rebel Alliance has uniforms, as does the Empire. So, plenty of people care about dressing like a team, just not the Jedi. The Jedi are a religious order.

        1. I’m not sure what that means.

          In the movies, they don’t wear or get gold medals. Jedis are like fighting, warrior monks that have a magical connection to the force which animates the universe, and they can become skilled in directing that force. The key for a Jedi is maintaining his humility and restraining his pride, so he does not give in to the baser motives of power and glory, etc.

          I think what you’re referring to might have something to do with a video game?

          1. Didn’t Luke, Han and Chewie get gold medals on ribbons at the big awards ceremony after they blew up the Death Star at the end of the original (and only canonical) movie?

            You can get about 2 feet of wide ribbon, criss-cross the ends, and glue one of those large chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil to it.

        2. Buzz Parsec, yes, but Chewie and Han are not Jedi. So, Luke got a medal, but not because he was a Jedi.

  24. I always opt for the cheapest awesome costume. This year it’s a ribbed turtleneck, fake sunflower petals, and eyelash glue to make a Chester from Sifl & Olly costume. $15. Only 3 people will know what I am, but damn it, they’ll laugh their ass off.

  25. I had the vain hope that Zombie_______ would replace Sexy _____ in costumes. *sigh* No such luck.

    It’s been a while since I’ve dressed up for Halloween. How sad is that? I have a tendency to pick obscure costumes. One year I dressed up as HotHead Paisan ( As part of the costume I carried a stuffed cat wearing a fez and a copy of the comic.

    For several years I dressed up as Xena. I make a good Xena. But I’m not going to wear a Xena costume in the classroom. :)

  26. I’m going to stick an “H” on my forehead and go as a hologram of myself. Which is, of course, automatically sexy.

  27. I was shopping at a Halloween store and saw a “sexy Michael Myers” What?! There is no way, in no universe that the villain from Halloween can be considered “sexy”! I am going as Ursula the sea-witch this year, and I will be very worried about my tits falling out

  28. My daughter is 2 and I’ve realized that it starts early. Almost all the costumes for girls are crossed with something cute and girly. Batarina? Seriously? And who has heard of a pirate decked out in pink?

    I’m pregnant this year as well, and I don’t feel comfortable painting my belly, or being something as cliche as a pregnant nun or slapping a fake oven around the belly. I had wanted to be the big bad wolf that ate grandma while my daughter was little red, but all the animal ears and tails for women are bunnies or kitties.

  29. I never understand bare midriff Halloween costumes for children of trick or treating age – Not so much a modesty thing, but because where I live in Canada, Halloween is bordering on sub zero temperatures. So all my costumes needed to get a ski jacket on underneath, turning all childhood Halloween costumes into versions of: Slightly overweight power ranger, Seriously over-fed vampire, chubby princess with undersized head, Very Cold bicycle accident… What happened to the days of a batman suit that you can get on over snow pants?

    As for adult ‘Sexy’ costumes, I think if you want to go sexy, you should just go as something that’s already sexy, instead of trying to make fruit sexy. Year before last it was Lady Captain Kirk – I turned an XL men’s Kirk costume in to a Original 1960s star trek captain’s mini dress, as I imagine lady star fleet captains wore, before they went with the Janeway unitard :p

  30. My co-worker and I were laughing about the “sexy everything” costumes, trying to think up the most unsexy thing to sexify, and we actually found a “sexy hamster” costume online. I think that’s the pinnacle of unsexy.
    My husband and I are going to be Mr. Mayhem and Flo, the Progressive lady. I hate buying pre-made costumes. It’s much more fun to piece together an outfit from things you have and maybe buy a wig or accessories if you need them. I’ve always been big on costumes that don’t look like costumes. I guess that’s from growing up with those awful 70’s costumes with the mask and the plastic suit that said “Barbie” or “Wonder Woman” on it instead of looking like clothes.

      1. I was going to say Hammy the Hamster, who’s version of Casablanca was definitive, but I looked it up, and it turns out Hammy is real, at least in the sense he actually exists external to the Red Dwarf universe.

    1. I was considering Sexy Fidel Castro, but I don’t have the bust to really do ‘sexy’ anything. so i’m being Nyan Cat instead.

  31. I don’t mind the sexy costumes if that’s your thing, but I’m going as Kara Thrace this year :) Should be fun.

    1. Good link. They make an interesting point. Granted, many nations and cultures get stereotyped, but sometimes it goes just a little bit too far.

      Think maybe I’ll repost that blogpost on my own blog …

  32. One time, while working in a vintage clothing store around halloween, a girl came in and said “you know how people do “sexy” this and “sexy” that? Well, this might sound weird, but I’m looking for stuff to be “Sexy FDR””. I wanted to become her best friend.

  33. I always said I would never wear a “sexy x” costume. For one thing, they’re usually pretty lame, and for another, I like to defy expectations.
    But then I had a great idea: I’m going to be a Sexy Pope this year.

  34. I am going to be a pink pig, because I think it is funny. I will be handing out candy with my daughter, a self-proclaimed red-eyed tree frog, a costume of her own direction and design. People are going to knock-knock-knock on my door and I get to oink at them. I will not be a sexy pig, just a pig, you know that goes oink, oink. :)

  35. Hi there!

    As an atheist, I don’t have many cherished beliefs. But the one cherished belief that I DO have, is that Hallowe’en is meant to be SCARY. That’s what it’s FOR. I don’t dig on the “clever” costumes, or the “sexy” costumes. Costumes should be SCARY. If you wear a costume that doesn’t cause irreparable psychological harm to SOMEone’s children, you really haven’t done your job.

    As an entomologist, that means that you could really have some fun with your costumes. >:)

  36. I was thinking of going as a zombie Rick Perry. But then I thought that with someone so ridiculous the parody might be too indistinguishable from the real thing.

    My four month old daughter, however, is going to be a little pumpkin. Definitely chubby, but not sexy chubby.

  37. Halloween isn’t normally celebrated here in Oz. In particular children don’t go trick-or-treating. However my daughter and her husband always hold a Halloween party. This year my daughter will be River Song and her daughter (aged nearly three) as the Littlest Time Lord.

    Some years ago the theme was Creatures Of The Night and my other daughter went as a garbage collector.

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