About a week before Halloween this year, I started seeing the annual “Costumes Don’t Equal Consent” infographics all over my Instagram feed.
This year, the most widely-circulated post I saw was the CHC Rape Crisis Center’s “However You Dress, Wherever You Go: Yes Means Yes & No Means No – Costumes Are Not Consent” picture. I was proud to see so many of my friends at Cornell repost the picture, raising awareness about the seriousness of assault on college campuses. But at the same time, my inner response was “duh…. Why do we need that extra reminder on Halloween?”
Which segues us into the way overanalyzed and over discussed topic of sexy Halloween costumes. I am far from the first person to write about sexy Halloween costumes: I’m not even close to the first person to write about them in The Sun. But since this is a Feminist column, I thought I’d add my own two cents on the topic and how this year I had the world’s best Halloween costume.
I dressed up as Simone Biles. My Halloween costume was long in the making. I decided I wanted to dress up as Biles after she passed the qualifiers for the Tokyo Olympics and was so proud of this idea that I hid it from all my friends, hoping I’d be the only Biles at any on-campus events. I didn’t know then that beyond representing her phenomenal athletic ability, I would also be paying homage to a woman who has significantly changed how we discuss mental health in the United States. She also displayed incredible courage testifying to the Senate Judiciary as a survivor of assault and harassment. I dressed up as someone I really admire and look up to.
In addition to representing a remarkable woman, Biles also checked off my just-sexy-enough criteria for my Halloween costume. I ordered Biles’ Olympic GK Elite leotard off Amazon, wore my extra flat white Converse, and tied off the ensemble with a fluffy red bow. This was by far my favorite Cornell Halloweekend costume, because it was one that I actually felt good about. My overthinking and overanalyzing brain, could rest knowing that my arms were mostly covered and that although my legs were out, my costume was basically a one-piece swimsuit?
The truth is, Halloween is A LOT of pressure for young women. At least it’s a lot of pressure for me. Amongst other things, you need a costume that’s: 1) original 2) sexy 3) eye-catching 4) flattering to your body shape 5) funny 6) partnered (with a friend group or your significant other) 7) meaningful and 8) unproblematic. Obviously, hardly any costume checks all of those boxes, which often leaves me (and some of my friends) discontent when you see that one woman who pulled off what you were trying to pull off just a little bit better.
I could come here and tell you to, “Wear that sexy costume! Who cares what anyone thinks?”. And if that works, power to you! But I’d be a hypocrite to do that because I can almost guarantee you that you will never see me in lingerie at a frat house. Although deep down I kind of wish you would. I am just not that person. I am, however, the person to hype up my friends who do.
So, I guess I am here to tell you (whoever you are) that it is okay to be as sexy as you want to be for Halloween. This year, I saw a student dressed head-to-toe in an authentic Big Bird costume and a friend of mine in lingerie and bunny ears. They both seemed like they were having a good time.
One of my best friends from high school commented on my Simone Biles Instagram post “Woah! Scandyyyy” because the outfit was definitely out of my usual comfort zone. My comfort zone was beyond modest for the majority of our campus. Which makes sexy Halloween costumes a major double edged sword: take the excuse to be as sexy as you want to be, but don’t feel pressured to be sexy at all. The most important thing about Halloween is to be safe, feel comfortable and enjoy yourself. And of course, costumes don’t equal consent.
Anuli Ononye is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected]. Womansplaining runs every other Monday this semester.