What I was for Halloween: The Lack-Of a Halloween Costume
As I walked up and down the aisles of the costume store, I realized the extreme differences between the female and male costume choices. Some of the women costume choices were sexy nurse, slutty firefighter, sexy school girl, and sexy devil, to name a few. All these risqué costumes showed large amounts of skin, that had me questioning how much of the body these costumes actually covered. When I looked at the men’s costumes in comparison, I wondered why it was acceptable for men to wear full coverage costumes, while society claims females should wear minimal clothing to be considered attractive. Through certain cultural aspects, I feel the pressures of the male gaze to dress and act a certain way to be considered feminine.
In Mary Celeste Kearney’s article, Pink Technology: Mediamaking Gear for Girls, we see the making of the pink Barbie video camera for girls. This pink camera is designed especially for girls. One aspect of this camera is that the directions are somewhat difficult to read, because it is assumed that girls cannot handle the technology’s instructions and need help for an adult. “In other words, this is not the type of video technology owned by most families, schools, or community-based organizations in the US, which means that most girls probably have a difficult time learning how to use it, and parents are the more likely operators of it,” says Kearney. This exemplifies how girls are taught that having a vast knowledge about technology is not considered to be “lady- like.” Regardless of how much these females know about technology, it is considered not feminine to know more about than a man.
Another aspect of this camera that demonstrates how this technology defines the female role through cultural aspects is the domestication of the product. “Moreover, since the wireless video camera, which has a fairly limited transmission range, must be situated close to the base station, which in turn must be plugged into a TV or VCR, it would be fairly difficult to use the Barbie camcorder outside…As Angela McRobbie and Jenny Garber argue, parents have long socialized girls to see their homes as their primary site of leisure, because such domestication keeps them safely away from the various dangers of the outside world and prepares them for their future roles as mothers and homemakers.” Because society says that female’s main relaxation environment and place of work should be in the home, we can see how those views are reflected in the making of the camera. This camera comes with a fake microphone, promoting girls to be a “super star” or a “fashion model” in front of the camera, rather than a cinematographer or a director behind the camera.
Growing up my mother would always correct me when I would do something that was considered “not lady like,” whether it be roughhousing with my older boy cousins, or them teaching me how to wrestle, or even not eating that extra slice of pizza when all of them would go in for a third. I was told that was not what girls were to do. As I’ve grown up, I understand exactly what my mother meant and how society posed these views on women.
A month before Halloween even started, I watched how all of my friends began to step up their exercise routine and prepared for the month of their “Halloween diet.” I’ve noticed my friends even started doing this in high school because on Halloween we’re “supposed to” wear very revealing costumes. I’ve never been a girl particularly comfortable wearing clothing like that. While, I get my check-ups regularly and am considered very average in the height and weight category, when I look on social media my own view of myself changes dramatically. I see super skinny, extremely tan, flawless looking girls in tiny costumes I can only assume a toddler can fit in. On Halloween this year I wore a skirt, a white shirt tucked in, with a girl scout vest. When I left my room I was asked why my outfit was so conservative? These ideals of what the “perfect girl” looks like is getting quite difficult to achieve.
Pressures from the male gaze and cultural trends that society sets forth for us, gives us an unrealistic ideal of what feminism is and what it means to be “lady-like.” Whether it be technologies that reflect “feminine ideas” or the view of what women should look or dress like, there is always going to be external pressures that are going to constantly tell you to change how you look or act. As I’ve grown up and have become more aware of these external pressures, I’ve also grown to love myself more. I’ve learned to be proud of how I look and how I dress. I’ve been taught to chase after all my dreams, no matter how difficult they may be to achieve. As I held my head high on Halloween night, I couldn’t help but laugh and feel sorry for the girls that walked down the street freezing cold in their lack-of-clothing, Halloween costumes.
Kearney, Mary Celeste. (2010). Pink Technology: Mediamaking Gear for Girls. Camera Obscura 74.