Already in 2004 Mean girls defined the modern Halloween costume discourse as we know it today in one of the many oft-quoted lines in the film: “Halloween is the only time of year when a girl can dress like a total slut and no other girl can say anything about it. ”
This, as Lindsay Lohan’s voiceover points out, is one of the main tenants of “Girl World,” and whether one agrees with this claim or not – one could very easily argue that Halloween or floods are sparse under almost no circumstances, the clothed woman is always Immune to Judgment by Peers and Strangers – Conversations about the appropriateness and impact of “sexy” Halloween costumes have long focused almost entirely on women. However, the annual Halloween discourse largely lacks any mention of Halloween costumes for men.
This could of course be traced back to the simple fact that society in general is less critical of men’s choices – sartorially, sexually, and otherwise – rather than feeling the need to analyze every move and decision a man makes. However, it’s also worth noting that when it comes to “sexy” Halloween costumes, men tend to have significantly fewer options, possibly reflecting largely unspoken gender norms that discourage men – especially straight ones – from expressing their sexuality in ways that do celebrates male body.
“Something we’ve been talking about for a few years is the lack of really sexy men’s costumes,” said Pilar Quintana-Williams, vice president of merchandising at Yandy, an online retailer known for driving the 21st century boom in scarce countries often to make known, ironically, “sexy” Halloween costumes as we know them today. While the company currently lists nearly 1,500 products in the “Sexy Halloween Costumes” category, the site only sells about 300 men’s costumes, and not all of them are viewed under the traditional, barely-there, skin-tight definition of “sexy” Halloween sexuality.
This is something that Yandy has wanted to change over the past few years. While company representatives tell InsideHook that the brand has been selling Halloween costumes for men since 2008, Yandy recently “stepped up the stakes” and designed an exclusive line of sexy costumes for men, generally modeled on the brand’s infamous skin-first approach.
To be fair, Yandy isn’t the only company offering skin-colored Halloween costumes for men, and the brand’s best-selling men’s costume, the skin-wrapping ensemble of the King of Egypt, has long played with the traditional notions of skimpy men. as-sexy Halloween costume that leaves a lot of room for men to show off their abs and / or other aspects of their body.
“There are definitely more ‘sexy’ Halloween costumes for women right now,” says Lesley Bannatyne, writer and Halloween expert. However, it points to somewhat newer cultural institutions and fascinations Magic Mike to Game of ThronesThis suggests that “sexy” men’s costumes, while underrepresented, are far from extinct.
Still, this relative lack of up-close Halloween costumes for men seems to reflect a broader societal understanding of sexuality that tends to encode aesthetic sex appeal – particularly as defined by nudity – as inherently feminine. In a heteronormative, patriarchal society, we usually understand sexuality largely as a function of the male gaze: women are sexy, men are sexual aggressors.
“Skimpy costume, especially on Halloween, is worn with the ‘male gaze’ in mind, if not literally, then conceptually,” says Shealyn Biron, an LA-based costume designer. This does not mean, as Biron emphasizes, that women necessarily wear provocative costumes with male attention, but that our social understanding of sexuality is deeply, albeit unconsciously, shaped by gender-specific, heteronormative structures of sexuality. While these structures have most obviously led to the hypersexualization of women and the female body – a double-edged sword that simultaneously celebrates feminine sexuality and shames women for expressing it – they also leave little room for men to express their sexuality outside of very rigid codes of traditional masculinity .
This is something we have seen in various aspects of male aesthetics, from the pronounced stigma against “cock images” to the general fashion choices most prevalent in men. “Think of special occasion / evening conventions: women are encouraged to show skin,” said Nancy Deihl, chair of the arts and professions at New York University. “In contrast, conventional evening wear for men is practically a uniform. You could say uniforms are sexy, but it’s not about physical stress for men as it is for women. ”
This, as Biron notes, seems to reflect a fundamental distinction between the way we understand the aesthetics of male and female sexuality. For men, sexuality is not inherently associated with nudity or revealing clothing. “Men’s perceptions of sexuality for themselves have not been mutated by a patriarchal and gender-compliant idea that showing more skin is inherently sexier,” says Biron.
“On Halloween and all year round, it’s easier for men to be perceived as sexy,” she argues. “Women have come to expect that wearing a more revealing outfit is the formula for presenting yourself as sexy.” Meanwhile, she adds, “A man in a nicely pressed T-shirt, well-fitting jeans, and a Pair of Chelsea boots are perceived as sexy with a lot less effort than their female counterparts in their tiny dress, heels, complete lack of body hair, makeup, extensions, etc. I think the same logic applies to Halloween. Men are not allowed to wear skimpy costumes because they have no social pressure to do so in order to be perceived as sexy or attractive. ”
While men may feel less pressure to bare their flesh in order to appease patriarchal constructs of aesthetic acceptance, they may also feel less able to bare their flesh at all. Ultimately, says Biron, “we perceive sexuality differently for men and women.”
“I think a lot of men think they dress sexy on Halloween,” the costume designer adds, citing “barbaric” or James Bond costumes as examples of popular Halloween costumes for men who have little to no significant skin show, but generally still be interpreted as “sexy.”
Ultimately, it seems that heterosexual men as a population group – again, one that is still heavily plagued by heteronormative concepts of gender and sexuality – are largely discouraged from displaying their bodies in the same way as women, perhaps because they consider sexuality primarily as an object of the male gaze exists. This internalized understanding of skin-friendly or figure-hugging clothing as fundamentally “feminine” or at best “extravagant” also seems to be carried over to a version of sexuality that, although accepted in the LGBTQ community, tends to alienate straight men.
“Heterosexual men are often judged to be” trying too hard “when it comes to getting dressed,” says Yandy’s Marketing Director Alicia Thompson, repeating Deilhl. “There is an overlap between the resistance of straight men to being“ aware of their looks and being gay ”. ”
In fact, the sexy Halloween costume may have been popular with gay men before it even found a following among straight women.
“In the late 1960s, gay Halloween parades broke out in the Castro District of San Francisco. Parades soon followed in Greenwich Village, ”says Bannatyne. “The costumes were glamorous, gender, sexual, and fun, and the rest of the country took notice. The images of men dressed as sexy women confirmed the insolence and transgressiveness of Halloween that had always been part of the holiday and part of what made adults celebrate Halloween. ”
Decades later, the same spirit of transgression could return as rigid constraints that limit the celebration and expression of the male body seem to shift for good. Yandy launched a line of men’s lingerie earlier this year, and this year the brand expanded its line of “sexy” Halloween costumes for men. “If we turn to less binary notions of gender, we may have more choices,” says Bannatyne.
“We encourage all of our customers to adopt their sexuality in healthy and positive ways,” says Yandys Thompson. “Taking a step back from social norms and experimenting with something new is a cornerstone of our brand.”
“With each new generation, these gender-specific fashion constructs worsen when a new creative freedom arises,” says Biron. This applies to Halloween costumes and beyond. “There are straight men all over the internet who are taking part in trends like wearing skirts for daily chores, modeling maid costumes to make them feel cute, or buying cat ears to get interested in classically feminine accessories. that was never accepted or promoted by our society before now, ”she adds. “Gen Z tears apart the constructs of femininity and masculinity and replaces them with freedom of expression and common interests.”
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