Skirts shorter in recent Halloween trends

By Elizabeth Weber

Halloween is one of the few times of the year that girls have the opportunity to dress provocatively.

As young women appear to be using Halloween as an outlet to express themselves sexually, costume companies both on the internet and in Champaign-Urbana are taking notice.

From retail Web sites like Halloweenmart.com to Dallas and Co., 101 E. University Ave., stores bring in the revenue by selling sexier versions of classic costumes like “Little Red Riding Hood” and more blatant get-ups like “Jailbait.”

“I think it’s just fun,” said Caitlin Donahue, freshman in LAS. “On Halloween you can be something that maybe you aren’t necessarily.”

Jessica Miller, freshman in LAS, donned a “Wilma Flinstone” costume this past weekend, which she admits was mildly provocative but all in good fun. However, she recognizes that some people take it too far when it comes to their costumes and Halloween in general.

“A lot of people drink on Halloween, so you don’t have control of what you are doing,” she said. “Girls’ costumes are just falling off.”

Pat Gill, interim director of the Institute of Communications Research and professor in gender studies, said she partially blames the media’s portrayal of women as sexual objects.

“Women are told that dressing provocatively and looking as attractive as possible are both necessary and vital for success,” she said. “And I think Halloween allows women – who otherwise feel it is inappropriate – to do so.”

Gill also spoke about this issue in a recent article in the New York Times, joking about how gyms should have membership specials for getting in shape in time for Halloween.

Gill said that she understands the need for young girls to exude confidence and express themselves sexually, and wanting to be comfortable with their bodies. However, she said there really is no full explanation for this phenomenon.

“I’ve got more questions than answers,” she said.

Dallas and Co. manager Wes Schield said he can’t think of a reason for the trend in sexy costumes either. Like Gill, he said he thinks the media plays a big role in influencing young women. He also said that particular costume brands – such as one called Leg Avenue – that are known to produce skimpier costumes, might be influential when deciding which costume to purchase.

“There are short skirts on most of them,” he said. “They’re what you would consider ‘cutesy.'”

Other retail outlets for costumes like Halloweenmart.com and BuyCostumes.com are beginning to create categories specifically geared for sexy outfits. Many of these sites even had to split up the categories into three subcategories due to the overwhelming popularity of many of their costumes.

Some of the most popular costumes on the Halloweenmart Web site include “Jailbait”, “Strip Search Sally” and “Sexy Pirate Wench.” In fact, eight of the site’s top ten best-sellers have either miniskirts or low-cut tops. All of these items are sold out for the season.

Even though Gill said she is concerned about the situation, she doesn’t think that most students actually find a need to dress provocatively, no matter what the occasion.

“Students in the Midwest are normally sensible dressers,” she said. “They dress for the weather, they look good, but they don’t look like high school kids on ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer.'”