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Secrest: What Halloween costumes tell us about internalized misogyny

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Collegian | Trin Bonner

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

The crux of the Halloween season is what costumes we choose to wear. Witches and ghouls take over the streets, and as soon as outfits are adorned, judgment is passed.

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The greatest fear is being basic — a crime above all crimes, especially if you choose a feminine costume. Witches, cats, a nurse, Harley Quinn and the newest edition, Barbie, are scoffed at as basic and attention-seeking costumes — as if there won’t be a bajillion standard cops and cowboys ogling every Barbie that passes by.

If you take it upon yourself to Google “basic costumes,” you’ll notice that not only are all of the aforementioned costumes listed, but their judgment is directed at women. The less-than-charming listicle “The 25 Most Basic Halloween Costumes And What They Say About You” by Total Frat Move illustrates the deep-rooted sexism injected into the spirit of Halloween.

Deeming women as “sluts” might feel like the most egregious language in that article, but what stands out to me is the consistent belittling of women for anything they may enjoy. Even in good humor, it is apparent that in the status quo, whatever you wear, if you can tell you have boobs, you’re clearly looking for some action, and if you can’t, you’re the biggest prude.

Queue “The Man” by Taylor Swift on Spotify because the double standard is palpable, and men are not the only perpetrators.

In the year of Barbie, it is especially appalling how many women contributed to this judgment. Halloweekend is upon us, and I have already witnessed a disdain for Barbie in particular. Somehow between being a child and becoming an adult, pink became an indicator of weakness, and being a part of a trend became ammo to attack one’s character.

I’m sorry, but your internalized misogyny is showing through your totally original costume that is just so much better than everyone else’s. And I know, the lack of creativity must just be physically painful for you, but kindly get over yourself.

Barbie, Taylor Swift and overt femininity being prevalent in all aspects of life are signs of feminine joy, and why shouldn’t that prevail into Halloween? Why does embracing femininity warrant so much judgment and rage? Embracing the gentle, fun-loving, mysterious allure of femininity unites us, and every snide remark about another person’s outfit just ruins the vibe and pits women against each other.

Femininity can be bright and pink; it can be fun and flamboyant. It can be sharing makeup and helping lift each other up, building confidence internally and externally. It can be Taylor Swift or Fleetwood Mac. It can be dark and alluring, nude witches dancing under a full moon, Barbie or Wednesday Addams.

None of that is bad; it’s beautiful and fun. Shame on those of you who lead fellow fem-presenting people to believe there’s a wrong way to embrace womanhood.

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Dress it up or dress it down — if full-face prosthetic makeup is your vibe, embrace it! Scare them kids. If lingerie and cat ears suit your fancy, embrace them. You deserve to feel sexy. If your Greek life roommate wants to walk out of the house in basically floss and a tutu, let them. It’s not your body, it’s not your costume and no one is making you dress that way, so it’s really not your place to harass others for their costume choices, basic or not.

Double shame on those of you who scoff at girls having fun, who roll your eyes at the glitz and glam and who slut-shame and demean women. It’s not cute or funny, as much as your guy friends may be laughing. Your judgments are crude and unkind.

We can argue that reality TV, boob jobs or Barbie costumes set the women’s movement back 20 years or whatever arbitrary number you feel so attached to, but the truth is that as long as we tear each other apart, we’re doing the patriarchy’s work for them without proper compensation.

Wednesday Addams is just as feminine as Barbie, and choosing to embrace both the dark and the pink shows how vast the spectrum of womanhood is. Femininity is not restricted to cool girls or girly girls or tomboys or even strictly women. And honestly, Halloween is the last holiday to get in a tizzy over tits.

Drop the gross misogyny, and accept that we can be Wednesday Addamses and Barbies, joining hand in hand to support each other rather than committing the horror of tearing each other apart.

Reach Ivy Secrest at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @IvySecrest.

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About the Contributors
Ivy Secrest
Ivy Secrest, Content Managing Editor
Ivy Secrest is The Collegian's content managing editor. Secrest uses she/her/hers pronouns and has worked for The Collegian previously as a reporter and as life and culture director for the 2022-23 academic year. As a senior in the journalism and media communications department, Secrest enjoys reporting on environmental and social issues with a special interest in science communication. She is president of the Science Communication Club and is pursuing a minor in global environmental sustainability with hopes of utilizing her education in her career. Growing up in Denver, Secrest developed a deep love for the outdoors. She could happily spend the rest of her life hiking alpine environments, jumping into lakes, taking photos of the wildflowers and listening to folk music. She's passionate about skiing, hiking, dancing, painting, writing poetry and camping. Secrest's passions spurred her career in journalism, helping her reach out to her community and get involved in topics that students and residents of Fort Collins truly care about. She has taken every opportunity to connect with the communities she has reported in and has written for several of the desks at The Collegian, including news, life and culture, cannabis, arts and entertainment and opinion. She uses her connections with the community to inform both managerial and editorial decisions with hopes that the publication serves as a true reflection of the student body's interests and concerns. Secrest is an advocate of community-centered journalism, believing in the importance of fostering meaningful dialogue between press and community.
Trin Bonner
Trin Bonner, Illustration Director
Trin Bonner is the illustration director for The Collegian newspaper. This will be her third year in this position, and she loves being a part of the creative and amazing design team at The Collegian. As the illustration director, Bonner provides creative insight and ideas that bring the newspaper the best graphics and illustrations possible. She loves working with artists to develop fun and unique illustrations every week for the readers. Bonner is a fourth-year at Colorado State University studying electronic arts. She loves illustrating and comic making and has recently found enjoyment in experimental video, pottery and graphic design. Outside of illustration and electronic art, Bonner spends her free time crocheting and bead making. She is usually working on a blanket or making jewelry when she is not drawing, illustrating or brainstorming.

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