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photos by Lara Shipley

Is “French Maid” the Scariest Costume of All?

October 16th, 2006 · No Comments

I hate to pile on the New York Times op-ed page, but I figure they’re big boys and girls; they can take a little blog-needling. This morning they saw fit to turn over a chunk of their pulpy real estate to Allison Glock, kvetching about the dire cultural peril of… sexy Halloween costumes. Apparently the costumes for grown-up women at her local Wal-Mart are all terribly risqué. (The men’s costumes not so much, but she notes there weren’t many of these at all, sexy or otherwise.) Now, just going out on a limb here, I’m going to guess that this is largely because most people who care enough to dress up for Halloween past the age of, say, fifteen, have got the creativity and the resources to make their own costume—or at the very least go to an actual costume shop and get something nice. Buying costumes is for parents who understand that their kids are socially expected to take part in the whole affair, but don’t want to invest the time and energy to do something interesting—which is fair enough; people are busy. But adults aren’t expected to dress up, so those who don’t particularly care can just opt out. It’s not all that surprising if the pool of people who don’t actually give a damn about having an interesting costume but want something to wear to some friend’s party tends to be biased toward folk who figure they might as well just go with titillating.

All that aside, what especially irked me was this:

I have nothing against playing erotic dress-up, or even mass-market fetishism. I’d just prefer it didn’t converge with a family holiday (and wasn’t sold next to the dryer sheets).

Dear Ms. Glock:

As you’re doubtless aware, Halloween started out as a pagan Celtic harvest festival; I’m sure the druids would just as soon Samhain didn’t converge with an excuse for you to swath your rugrats in cheap Wal-Mart getups and ply them with candy corn and Snickers. We all adapt.

Second, congratulations: You have reproduced. Millions of years of natural selection have successfully culminating in you, and your functioning genitals. As a future Social Security recipient, I thank you.

That said, shut up.

I’m sure the glob of clay little Timmy brought back from nursery school, with “Worldz Graytest Mom” scrawled on it, is an exceptional piece of art, but it confers no special rights. It entitles you to no special authority over the direction of American culture. It does not obligate the rest of us to water down our entertainment in order to spare you the burden of cracking the manual on the cable box that came with all those terrible, filthy channels you’re paying $40 a month for. It certainly doesn’t require us to defer to your judgment about which occasions are “family holidays” to be celebrated in whatever manner you’re comfortable with. There is, I realize, the risk that the instant they’re old enough to stop brunching at your nipple, your precious tots will be scarred for life by the sight of a bit of cleavage, but I feel confident they’ll recover somehow. In the meantime, you can take the thousand bucks the Times handed you for that self-indulgent yawp and go buy a real costume.

Tags: Art & Culture