Pink is a Four Letter Word

by Anika

I’ve mentioned before that Halloween is a big deal in my household. My husband makes costumes as his career so my girls’ costume choice is not limited by what is available for sale. Which is good because a lot of what is available is overpriced and inappropriate. And not what they want. This year my thirteen year old is going as Alex Russo of Wizards of Waverly Place. There are a couple Alex costumes out there but the one Kiki wants is from the movie (Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie), specifically the scene where Alex puts aside her attitude, digs down deep within herself, and saves her future and her family. Despite it being the closest Alex has to a uniform, nobody has made that one. My four year old is going as a Tyrannasaurus Rex. She is entirely enamored of dinosaurs and “Rexy” in particular. Ever since her sister explained that the dinosaurs all died many millions of years ago, it has been her stated goal to find all of Rexy’s bones and bring him back to life. This means both my girls want to be scientists when they grow up (her sister has long expressed an interest in meteorology, storm-chasing to be precise) so I’m as happy as can be, but the dinosaur costumes that exist are all in the Boys section of the store. Little girls are not supposed to like dinosaurs, just no one told mine.

My husband is making both these costumes, so my girls are set, but our love of the Halloween season does not extend only to the costumes we wear, but to all the costumes around. Last Saturday we went to four different stores just to browse.

Cady (Lindsay Lohan, but it is Amanda Seyfried’s Karen in the picture) says in Mean Girls, “Halloween is the one night a year when girls can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.”

Based on Halloween costume selection, this is entirely true. There are few, if any, costumes for women that are not the (Sexy) version. The (Sexy) Nurse, the (Sexy) Witch, the (Sexy) Nun (seriously? the sexy nun?), the (Sexy) Red Riding Hood. Why is Red Riding Hood sexy? Isn’t she supposed to be nine or ten? But then all the little girls costumes at least border on (Sexy), too.

Last year, I really, really wanted to be (Sexy) Marie Antoinette. As far as skimpy goes, it wasn’t very. Marie Antoinette was known for wearing a lot of clothes, after all. It was a really cool costume and I wanted it. But it was eighty dollars for an outfit that would be worn not-even-once because who dresses up as (Sexy) Marie Antoinette to take their kids trick-or-treating? I didn’t get it and this year, it is not even available. As I said, it just wasn’t that skimpy.

Now, if you are a woman (or teen girl, let’s be honest, most of the adult sized female costumes are aimed at teens) who wants to be a super hero you don’t have that many choices on the standard Halloween Outlet costume wall. For DC fans, there’s Wonder Woman, Supergirl and Batgirl. And then there’s Robin, and well, Stephanie Brown was Robin so, okay. (Sexy) Flash, on the other hand, has no basis in canon and is — well, let’s call it over-the-top.

As for Marvel, well, you can be Spider-Girl, Black Costume Spider-Girl or American Dream. Both of these characters are from an alternate future version of the Marvelverse. I love the Spider-Girl comics, May is a spunky heroine and Mary Jane is great as a mom you shouldn’t mess with. But May wears her father’s suit, not the teensy, flirty, mini-skirted (Sexy) version on sale. And the Black Costume version comes off as the (Sexy) Bad Girl side of Spider-Girl.

And then there’s “American Dream, the Daughter of Captain America”. When I saw this in the store I immediately snapped a picture and texted it to the other Fantastic Fangirls and a few friends. The comments I got back were varying degrees of “Cool, but…wait…” And the one that sums it up best was Sam‘s: “Dude, Steve would never allow his daughter to wear that!” (Not that American Dream is actually related to Captain America as the costume box states, but that is just icing on the cake of what is wrong with this costume). Like with Spider-Girl, in the comics American Dream’s costume is basically Captain America’s only with more room for her curves. But that is just not sexy (Sexy)! enough for Halloween.

Never mind that female superheroes by and large wear sexy costumes anyway. Why are there only Marvel heroines from an obscure alternate future (I imagine most people assume the characters were made up for the costume)? Where is Spider-Woman who is in the Avengers titles and her own comic? Where is Black Widow? Where are any of the fifty billion female X-Men? Where is my Ms. Marvel?! Seriously, the brand name is in her title, talk about wasted marketing opportunities.

But at least they aren’t pink. Back to DC, the littler girls’ costumes for Batgirl, Supergirl and Wonder Woman all come in pink. Because, obviously, little girls only want to wear pink. Now, I’m not saying that’s not valid but …that’s not valid. Something does not have to be pink for a young girl to like it. Supergirl is almost reasonable. She is, at times, girly. Pink Batgirl is simply ridiculous. 1. Bats are not pink. 2. Wearing fluorescent pink makes someone stand out in the dark, gritty streets of Gotham (yes, Robin’s outfit doesn’t really make sense in that way but hey, he grew up in the circus. I mean, look at Hawkeye!) and 3. Please name the Batgirl who would wear pink.

Right.

And Wonder Woman. There is just no excuse for a pink Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman has one of the skimpiest, sexiest superheroine outfits ever, and it is also the most iconic. It is star-spangled and gold and it is not pink.

I just don’t understand. My four year old gets it. “That’s not what Wonder Woman wears.”

I am wearing my Hawkgirl costume from the convention this Halloween. There were no costumes in any of the stores we went to that came even close to being as cool. In fact, there were no costumes in any of the stores we went to I even wanted. I already own (Sexy) Alice in Wonderland and (Sexy) Marie Antoinette wasn’t available. But looking at the wide display of stockings I did decide on who I would be if I didn’t already have the costume.

Black Canary.

Why? She is sexy and scrappy. Just as likely to hit you as kiss you (aside: these costumes don’t really invoke “kissing” fantasies but let’s keep it PG shall we?) (I don’t mean Power Girl!). She’s the perfect choice. (I still don’t mean Power Girl!) Black Canary pulls off (Sexy) — even Cady’s slutty — and is still true to the character and the characterization (Dinah likes being sexy, it’s okay!). And, unlike Ms. Marvel (the other obvious choice for me), her costume is pretty easy to throw together with a trip to Hot Topic.

But that’s for me, an adult (don’t dress your daughter up as Black Canary. At least skip the fishnets). My daughters are lucky they have my husband because if we had to rely on what’s available…well. Maybe next year.

Posted by Anika
email: anika@fantasticfangirls.org
twitter: magnetgirl

  • Great article! And I totally encourage a Black Canary costume at some point in the future.

  • Sam

    When I was a kid, back in the ancient day of the 80s, I don’t remember the costumes being as pink/sexy. But I DO remember that girls could be She-Ra, not He-Man. So one year I went as She-Ra, because I didn’t get that it didn’t matter and I could be He-Man anyway.

    As far as superheroes go, I used to have Superman pajamas that were a pretty accurate version of his costume, and same with Batman. One year my sister and I went as Batman and Robin. I’m not sure if my parents just didn’t feel like binding us into gender roles (knowing my mom and her feminist endings to the fairy tales she told us, I wouldn’t be surprised) or if we really had those ideas on our own, but every time Halloween rolls around my disgust sort of renews itself. Parents let their kids dress this way? Not just “sexy”, but with this whole “girls wear pink” thing. It’s crazy.

  • THANK YOU for posting this. The Halloween costumes make me so angry.

  • I think I’ll go as “Sexy Lex Luthor”.

  • sigrid

    @Paul Oh, DO. I want PICTURES.

    @Anika I adore this article. <3

  • You are right on most points. However, two things:

    1) Batgirl in the 60s TV show wore a purple/pinkish uniform, remember? The current Batgirl, Stephanie Brown, wears a costume that’s partially purple in homage to her Spoiler past.

    2) Jessie Quick (now Liberty Bell) was a female Flash for about four seconds; and there’s alternate future female Flashes descended from Barry or Wally.

    As you say, there’s a lot of sexy superheroine costumes women could wear without mangling the real costumes and a lot of non-sexy outfits little girls could wear.

  • Wired

    For the last two years, my daughter went as NOT PINK Supergirl. She reads the comics. She knows who Supergirl is, even if she can’t pronounce it.

    This year, oh delightful changeup, she is going as Amelia Earhart. I am so excited for her. We have assembled her costume here and there (easier for real people clothes than superheros). I still need to make boot-spats, which I will probably model off any Supergirl spats I can rescue from The Room of Doom.

    My son wants to go as Commander Cody. Off the rack for him.

    And me? I am contemplating how to make a Not Sexy At All Pirate Costume. Really, that’s its name. No cleavage (I have lots, but I’m wearing this costume to work). No leg. No shoulder. I thought about a burqha with a pirate hat on top, but I don’t think appropriating religious symbols is ok.

  • Anika

    @MaGnUs

    1) I do recall purple Batgirl. I have not actually watched the show (I’m not a big fan of zany/happy Batman) but I know what you mean. But purple = / = pink and certainly not day-glo pink 😉

    2) I have a Jesse Quick Heroclix! And…that is all I know of her! Was she really Flash? Hm.

    @Wired Amelia Earhart!! WOW, that is so awesome.

  • Here a ton of information here. Thanks! I’ll be back for more

  • Mike Zeidler

    There was a “Lady Flash” during the late ’80s Flash run. You can read more about her here: http://www.hyperborea.org/flash/christina.html

    She’s apparently wearing one of the Flash’s extra costumes, but I’m not sure how that works, you’d think it’d be too loose on her, but it looks like it would be way too tight on Wally.

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