Halloween slut-shaming and Jesus

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The Halloween dilemma for Christian women: Is a sexy costume OK?
Illustration: Eva Wilhite

Halloween is tomorrow, and you know what that means: candy corns, chocolate, trick-or-treating, jack-o-lanterns, scary masks and the infamously revealing costumes in the form of sexy witches, Playboy Bunnies and a variety of other sexy costumes made for women.

According to a National Retail Federation (NRF) survey, Americans will spend a total of $2.6 billion on Halloween costumes – more than $1.2 billion will be spent on adult costumes and $1 billion on children’s costumes. A study by Topcharts involving the top costumes bought at HalloweenCostumes.com, one of the largest online costume retailers based in Minnesota, said that top Halloween costumes for adult women include “Sexy Enchanting Belle,” “Sexy Purple Posh Monster” and “Sexy Deadly Ninja.”

Online dating site WhatsYourPrice.com surveyed more than 7,300 single men aged 24-39 and found that 84 percent of them believed the “easiest” women to get into bed will be the women dressed like Miley Cyrus’ VMA teddy bear costume. About 66 percent believed that a women who is dressed in an Amanda Bynes costume would be “easiest” to get into bed.

Through conversations with female friends, classmates, professors and acquaintances on campus, I have come to find that as a community APU not only condemns these sexy costumes, but that as a community we judge those wearing those costumes as being promiscuous, or as a friend of mine said, as “sluts who want attention and think they can get away with it.”

I have noticed that engaging in this “slut-shaming” has become commonplace in Christian culture. Calling any girl who wears a short skirt or a freshman wearing a midriff to class a “slut” or referring to someone as “slutty” based on their fashion choices has been a common topic that I have seen in not only the general Christian community, but especially at APU. During the Halloween season, “slut-shaming” reaches an all-time high.

In the 2004 film “Mean Girls,” the fictional main character Cady Heron narrates, “Halloween is the one night a year when a girl can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.” But that is not true at all. As Christians, especially Christian women, we criticize and judge other females who wear risque costumes for Halloween by calling them “whores,” “sluts,” and even “bitches.” But could there be anything more un-Christ-like to do? Christ did not judge and criticize any women he met, not even prostitutes. He touched them, loved them and saw them for who they were, not what they wore.

Several females on campus have said to me as they explained why it is wrong to dress provocatively that a woman who wears these sexy costumes either (a) has low self-esteem and is seeking attention, (b) is promiscuous and is devaluing her body by sleeping with many partners and/or (c) is objectifying herself by showing off “scandalous” parts of her body.

As females, we tend to treat women who wear these “scandalous” costumes with much disdain and judgment. Several female friends who attend APU have assured me that “girls who dress like sluts for Halloween are giving women a bad name by making themselves sexual objects” and that “women should be modest to show we are equal to men.” We act like we are furthering the feminist cause by judging those who wear “slutty” clothing and costumes. After all, they are the ones who are objectifying themselves. And if so, it does not mean that we may also objectify them as nothing more than sexual objects.

Those who hurl insults in person, behind a computer or with their backs turned push feminism back into the Dark Ages instead of pushing us forward. Judging people’s sexual choices based on what they wear, especially during a holiday when we dress up as something we are not, is the most perfect example of materialism. Judging someone by their clothing is holding their physical value above their spiritual value in Christ.

I will be dressing up as a vintage pin-up girl for Halloween – short-shorts and all. If you feel the need to call me names or judge me, just know that you do not know my heart nor do you know my life and my reason for doing so.

Please, seek to reflect Christ’s love and rule out judgment. Recognize that we are called to live above our social standards that dictate human sexuality as wrong or scary and that we are called to reflect Christ, including looking at the heart and not the physical appearance. Yes, the Bible does tell us to pursue modesty, but whether or not another person chooses to interpret this message differently is none of your business.

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