Adventures in Profitable Misogyny: A Feminist Walks Into A Spirit Halloween Store...

...pukes on their carpet, then turns right around and walks back out.

No, not really.  That would have made for a much shorter post (although I still would have found it entertaining).  No, my mood was more "horrified amusement" than "this is making me sick".  Sometimes, you laugh to keep from crying.

Come along with me on a magical adventure through WTF Is This Shit Land, aka the Spirit Halloween Store, as documented with photographic evidence!

The "his-and-hers" versions of Harry Potter knock-off costumes hanging side-by-side.  The male costume is a set of black robes (closed all up the front) with a not!Hogwarts badge on the chest and a red-and-yellow tie, while the female costume is a grey v-neck minidress with red-and-yellow trim, a tie, and a black short cape as a nod to the "robes" idea.
If you're a guy who wants to be not!Harry Potter for Halloween, you're in luck - a costume that's closeish to the movie, close enough to be easily recognizable anyway.  If you're a woman who wants to be not!Harry Potter for Halloween, you'd best be ready to SHOW THEM ASSETS in a skintight minidress with lots of cleavage.  Oh, you still want to look not!Hogwarts-ish?  Eh.  Toss on a token collar/tie/cape-thing, but make sure none of it hides the ASSETS that are meant to be the main event for a woman's Halloween costume!  *hums "One of these things is not like the other ones..."*

Apologies for the blurriness; two different she-pirate costumes, one with the "for fatties" yellow stripe and one without.  This pic was supposed to highlight the size ranges but you can't even see them, so I'll just tell you: the "regular" she-pirate costume says it's for sizes 12-14, while the "for fatties" costume says it's for sizes 22-26.
I'm curious.  What exactly are those of us between a size 14 and a size 22 supposed to do?  That's actually a *really* common size range, judging by which sizes we got most of/sold out of quickest when I worked at LB.  Is there a "semi-fatties" version I can't find?  Don't get me wrong, I'm glad there's at least one costume available for someone over a 20, which is where XL/XXL sizes seem to stop in these things, but the gap there struck me as really weird.

Avast!  It be the Pirate Wall!  Four columns of four hanging costume bags each, separated by a bunch of pirate accessories (eyepatches, plastic swords, etc) in the center.
I realize you can't see the specifics very well (click through for fullsize if you want to see details) but for those who don't want to bother with that, there are on this wall at least six different variations on she-pirate costumes in the "regular" size, along with a couple he-pirate costumes.  (As an aside, I had no idea there could be that many versions of miniskirt-blousy sleeves-corsety thing-scimitar.  Was it really necessary to have half a dozen different "types"?)  There is precisely *one* plus-size she-pirate costume.  Hope you fat ladies all have the same taste in color and detailing!  Similarly, though I didn't get a pic of it, in the "vampire/witch/generic gothic-ish dress" section, there were a half dozen different dresses in crushed velvet with drapey sleeves and laced-up fronts labeled "vampire" or "witch", including one that was a truly gorgeous shade of cobalt blue which I might have been tempted to buy...except there was only ONE "plus-size" costume in the section and it was the generic black with red lining type.  Thanks for saving me money by refusing to acknowledge diverse tastes among fat people, Spirit! 

Two costumes side-by-side, "Sexy Venus" (a pink and white minidress with empire waist and drapey toga-ish fabric hanging from the shoulders), and "Venus Goddess of Love" (the plus-size version with "for fatties" yellow stripe; costume is similarly styled but has a full-length skirt and is cream and red instead of white and pink, with an actual wrap-shawl-thing instead of attached capelet)
 If this doesn't perfectly encapsulate the attitude mainstream Halloween costumes take toward "plus-size" costumes, I don't know what does.  The "regular" costume is the "Sexy X" and bears little resemblance to whatever it's supposed to be, inevitably consisting of a minidress embellished in some costume-specific way, while the plus-size costume is full-length (gods forbid anyone should have to see FAT LEGS on Halloween, amirite?) and drops any pretense of being "Sexy" anything (because duh, fat people can't be and wouldn't want to be sexy). 

The military costumes section.  A bunch of military-styled hats/helmets/caps, hanging beside two costumes, "Camo Pants" (which are apparently for men, pictured with a guy in the aforementioned pants and white t-shirt with dog tags), and below that "Camo Cutie" (the women's version, a olive-green camo print minidress with either over-the-knee black boots or black thigh-high stockings, I can't tell which)
Oh dear.  For the record, there was a "camo jacket" hanging above the pants, also shown with a young man wearing it.  So if you're a guy who wants to go as a soldier (and doesn't that seem vaguely disrespectful to actual servicemembers?  Or is it just me?) you get a pair of pants and jacket.  If you're a woman, you either buy the men's costume, or you buy the "cutie" costume that's, again, the standard template of minidress embellished for the specific costume.  And of course, don't forget your dominatrix boots/sexy thigh-highs.  That's totally practical for a soldier, and that's how all lady soldiers dress, duh.

The other side of the military section: Two men's costumes showing what seem to be Navy dress whites and, I think, Navy everyday officer's uniform (khaki suit-looking thing), hanging next to two women's costumes: "Naval [something] Doll" (glare covered the second word, sorry), and "Desert Dolly".  "Naval whatever Doll" is a navy-blue minidress with red-and-white trim, a gold embroidered anchor on the flared skirt, and a white bustier-top, shown worn with white thigh-highs and a sailor's cap; "Desert Dolly" is a skintight digiprint-camo-print minidress and soldier's cap, shown worn with black fishnet tights and knee-high black boots and holding a black assault rifle.
Wow.  I didn't think the military section could get worse, but here it is.  The feminine versions of the military costumes are literally reduced to DOLLS.  It's right there in the name.  "Doll" and "Dolly".  Fuck, how blatant can you get?  "You are not a person in costume, you are a doll that looks cute in stylized versions of real uniforms."  A doll.  Wow.

I can't even imagine being a female servicemember going into a costume store and seeing this.  I'd be ready to strangle people and burn the whole place down.  Is this really all we see female soldiers, sailors, as?  Dolls?  Fuck that.

And in all of this, I didn't even touch on the rampant racism.  The "Mexican Man" costume that consisted of a poncho-blanket-thing, sombrero, and fake moustache, with the guy on the package holding a beer and looking drunk; the "Pocahottie" (I wish I were kidding about the name, but I'm not; you can find the exact one here online) that followed the usual minidress-customized, in this case with fringe and beads and a feathered headdress. 

Just as well I'm pagan and celebrate Samhain instead of Halloween.  It gives me leeway to redefine Halloween as "That one night at the end of October when skinny white girls are encouraged required to show as much skin as possible while delighting in racist stereotypes and sexism in the name of "dressing up" and "fun"." 

I think that's much more accurate.  What do you think?


Teaspoon said...

I think I'm glad I don't have to help a daughter navigate all this garbage, because it's hard enough pointing out the problems with it to my son.

Jadelyn said...

I can't imagine trying to handle Halloween with kids these days.  You have my condolences.  >.<

vickiea13 said...

I have a male friend who simply calls it "Slut Night".  Says there is NO WAY a guy cant "get lucky" on Slut Night.  So many wrongs, and stores like this just encourage it.

Jadelyn said...

Careful not to slut-shame - I mean, it's a big party night, and if lots of women are taking advantage of the excesses of the evening to do what they wanna do, good for them.  But I agree that referring to it as "slut night" is pretty fucked up.  It's the compulsory nature of the "sexy X" costumes that bugs me, you can't find anything that's NOT "sexy" unless you're going to pay a lot more at a specialty shop or make your own. 

And on that note, thank you for making costumes for me when I was a kid so I didn't have to deal with this crap! 

Frances said...

I'd surely love to try out that sexy Venus costume you featured from the Halloween store.   


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