When it comes to zeitgeisty Halloween costumes, it seems like there's at least one pop-culture offering for sale every year that crosses the line. And sometimes, there are several.
In September, online retailer Yandy catapulted over the line with its sexy "Handmaid's Tale" costume, which raised the hemline on the distinctive red frock worn by women forced to bear children for the elite in the Hulu series.
Within a day, the company bowed to criticism and pulled the costume, explaining, "Over the last few hours, it has become obvious that our 'Yandy Brave Red Maiden Costume' is being seen as a symbol of women's oppression, rather than an expression of women's empowerment." (When was that winged white bonnet ever a symbol of empowerment?)
But Costume Agent is digging in its heels over its " Bruce Caitlyn Jenner Olympian I am Cait" outfit, telling TMZ that it will not pull or discontinue the item. "It's a costume," they told the gossip site of the kit, which tops a male, Olympic-style track uniform with a female wig. "It's funny." (It's not, but hey, whatever.)
If you don't want to end up being shamed on social media, or summoned by your company's HR department or school administration (after they find out about it on social media), the rules are pretty simple: When in doubt, play it safe.
Need more concrete guidelines?
First off, stay away from any costume with racial overtones (think Julianne Hough's "Orange Is the New Black"-inspired look" a few years back). This lesson was reinforced Wednesday when NBC "Today" host Megyn Kelly had to apologize for comments she made one day earlier saying that when she was a kid, it was acceptable to wear a costume involving blackface as long as it was respectful. ( Twitter promptly informed her it was not, even back then.)
Other terrible costume ideas: Any that make light of the oppression of a whole group of people (looking at you, Sexy "Handmaid's Tale"), appropriates the culture of an oppressed gender or race (hello, Native American Temptress), or indulges in animal cruelty ( remember the Minnesota Dentist?). It's just not worth it.
And while it's obviously not on the same level of offensiveness as any of the costumes mentioned above, sexy versions of anything gross or grotesque (like last year's Sexy Pizza Rat, or pizza pasties for those who feel overdressed in a rat suit) are not the least bit sexy. (Oh, and while we're at it, Sriracha, while hot, is not sexy.)
Who decided all female Halloween costumes have to be sexed up, anyway? (Looking at you, whoever came up withSexy Anonymous New York Times Op-Ed Writer).
On second thought, that last question is better left unanswered.
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