Halloween 2014: Are we sure we know what 'sexy' actually means?

I’m not entirely certain when Halloween turned into National It’s OK to Tart it Up Like Never Before Day. Maybe it’s the perceived anonymity a costume provides; if one is “in costume” and, indeed, “not” oneself, all manner of bad behavior can be excused. For some, there’s freedom in wearing more revealing, sexy, or a decidedly feminine or masculine getup. It’s good to step out of the box and let the id do the driving for a bit, right?

Right. To an extent.

But these days, we seem to have a very weird sense of “sexy.” I blame the Internet.

There are, of course, inherently sexy getups; we recognize characters like Catwoman, Black Widow, Wonder Woman, a Playboy bunny (sigh), a belly-dancer, a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader, certain evil witches, gods and goddesses, or even Marilyn Monroe as culturally sexy things.

We started pushing the lines of garden-variety sexy when we started dressing as hot cops, nurses, jailbirds, doctors, race car drivers, referees, etc. We picked various occupations/roles and sexed them up. Fine. Why these occupations are particularly appealing I’m not entirely sure. I suppose somewhere viscerally I get it, but what I also think is that it reveals a bit too much about the wearer’s sexual psyche for polite society. Sue me.

And then we moved on again, into new frontiers of sexualization and fetishism. In this brave new world, anything can be re-born as a sexy costume, regardless of context or rationality. The more random the better, it seems. I mean, whatever floats your boat, I guess, but typically I don’t see a piece of pizza as sexy. Or a hamburger. Or a Care Bear, Ninja Turtle, astronaut, or Starbucks barista, and yet, these costumes and many, many, many other “sexy” outfits are readily available this year online, in costume shops, and at whatever party you’re going to this weekend.

Among the more hip gals, you might see some sexy Ebola nurse get-ups. No, it’s apparently not too soon. It’s essentially a “Breaking Bad,” Walter White meth-making costume torn in half. See an example here.

Attention foodies: pizza and hamburger costumes aside, you’ve got a smorgasbord of sexy food costume ideas out there. Did you know there’s such a thing as sexy: corn on the cob, French fries, fortune cookies (guess where the fortune is displayed?), watermelon slices, cans of Coke and bacon? On the sweeter side you’ve got sexy Twizzlers, Jolly Ranchers Tootsie Pops, M&Ms and more.

Now, women with a longing for childhood whimsy can easily emulate the sexy aspects of the toys and television characters of their youth. Think some characters are beyond sexually recreating? That perhaps their wholesome nature or general sexlessness makes them immune to adult interpretation? Wrong! See also: costumes for sexy: Mickey Mouse, snowman from “Frozen,” every Ninja Turtle (with one costume pretty much a bathing suit); Mario and Luigi of Nintendo fame; a “Despicable Me” Minion; Big Bird; Bert & Ernie; Elmo and beyond. I even saw one Jack Skellington from “Nightmare Before Christmas” costume for women that neither looks like Jack Skellington, nor makes sense. Jack is a dude skeleton who wears a suit and HAS A SKULL FOR A HEAD. “Sexy” Jack Skellington wears a plether pinstripped tube dress with lacy accents and a Jack-like bowtie. No skull-head, no pants; dress = Sexy Jack.

Women who hope to haunt the dreams of their peers will want to check out the sexy Ronald McDonald costume immediately. Why on earth would anyone decide to sexify a big old clown? WHY?

And did you know there's a newly tapped source of sexy in the Paul Bunyan myth? Why should we let Paul be a flannel-wearing, ax-wielding dude, when he can run around in microshorts, knee socks and a cropped top? Standard attire for any tree-felling operation, to be sure.

I’m loathe to discuss the absurd sexy Ghostbuster costumes out there. No jumpsuits here; just khaki minidresses, lots of space for cleavage, and a ghost-catching backpack accessory. Astronaut (with stiletto boots) and soldier costumes (includes sexy SWAT team costume) get similar treatment. Costume authenticity, schmostume authenticity.

And the shocking variety of sexy nun costumes out there just makes me sad. Really? Are we not done celebrating this type of “irony”? (Read: not actually irony, but more odd juxtaposition, but “irony” would be the word that people who wear a sexy nun costume likely would use to explain herself.) I presume there will be at least some sexy, pregnant nuns out there too. Because that's always funny. (#sarcasm)

Last but not least, let’s not forget the blatantly offensive “sexy” costumes: you’ve got your Breathalyzer with conveniently placed blow tube; Aladdin’s lamp, with conveniently labeled rubbing spot, fireman with inappropriate hose, and anything involving a banana hammock — of which there are many. To anyone who dons these poor excuses for creativity I would suggest you take stock of your life and try to find the exact point where things went wrong and fix it. Please.

I’ve only scratched the surface here. Were I to get into the ready availability of overly adult-like children’s costumes out in the world, or plunge into psychological speculation as to WHY a piece of pizza has been sexified, my head would explode, which would make for a terrible Halloween. But, if you’ve spotted any sexually confused costumes, share them in the comments and we’ll get through this together.

Also, comedic vindication for me, courtesy of Chris Rock and Jimmy Fallon, is right here.

On Twitter: @TheMDesk

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