Halloween is really fun. I love the idea of getting dressed up and being creative. I love Halloween parties, fall festivals and fall weather. This year, as I have been getting more involved in anti-slavery and exploitation efforts, something bothered me acutely about the holiday season: the lack of appropriate costumes.
I am not exactly a social conservative, and I will admit to using Halloween in the past as an excuse to put on my skimpiest ‘sexy whatever’ outfit and run around town. However, this year, I feel like I am much more aware of the broader consequences of turning good fun into exploitation of women.
As I tried to come up with a fun costume I browsed various themes, and discovered that no matter what theme I chose, the costume invariably came up as a sexy whatever. Sexy ballerina. Sexy princess. Sexy trucker. Seriously? Take enough of the cloth for the costume away, and you can try to make anything “sexy.” Though the whole ‘the skimpier the better’ mentality has become the social norm for Halloween, I became embarrassed and angry, and began to process some important questions that perhaps I had not thought of before.
Do we, as females, think that we can derive value from the amount of our skin that is shown and from the amount of sexual attention that is garnered from the same? Are the men in our lives encouraging this behavior? Finally, what is it about society at large that senses this about us, and markets to us this way?
Often times the temptation is to rationalize behavior according to the social norms and mores. Women: My costume isn’t that sexy, especially compared to that chick over there…” Men: “How am I supposed to help it if women dress that way?”
You may think that you can’t do anything to change the way that society operates at large. You are wrong. There are some practical things that you can do in order to keep from perpetuating the sexualization and objectification of women.
First, if you are a woman, don’t do it to yourself. Treat yourself like a queen. Value yourself for your intrinsic beauty and the amazing way that God made you at your core. God created you in HIS image, and that makes your body to sacred and special to be cheaply marketed. Genesis 1:27
Second, if you are a part of a marketing or media campaign, don’t use sex to sell your product. It sends the message that your company does not respect people as individuals with profound personalities and, instead, demotes people to sex symbols.
Finally, if you are a man, don’t encourage this behavior. Choose to value the women in your life at their core. Go even further and express your lack of tolerance with companies and media that push sex at the expense of women.
How does this relate to human trafficking? Well, lack of self-esteem and the decision to engage in the sex-trade often go hand-in-hand. Can you imagine how different things might be if the three practical steps above were in play for a young man or woman who was trying to decide whether or not to follow a pimp home?
So, in case you were wondering, I am going to be a ballerina. Fully clothed.
Brooke M. Birkey