Each year, the same complaint about girls' and womens' Halloween costume options resurfaces: those tight-fitting, barely-there outfits are just too sexy.
Unfortunately, it's not just the "naughty cop" and "flirty fairy" costumes that are turning heads. Even the image of the Irish lass -- a traditional Irish dancer, in many cases -- is subject to hyper-sexualization. This year, it seems like more online Halloween outfitters are offering inaccurate interpretations of Irish dance gear.
Are these costumes examples of cultural confusion or intentionally tasteless fetishization of Irish step dancers?
CostumeCloset.net and StarCostumes.com offer a few of the same vaguely Irish dance-inspired costumes, some worse than others. The "Irish Lass Costume" is described on CostumeCloset.net as " just the thing for an Irish dance performance," even though it's fair to say a kitchen apron is not standard attire for the modern-day stepper.
The same site boldly hawks an "Irish Dancer Costume," which also includes a short-sleeve blouse (the CLRG and other dance organizations should laugh at such a suggestion) and a matching apron. Described in the site's text as a "premium quality Irish Dancer costume for adults," one might wonder if the costume designer ever saw an actual Irish dancer.
Spirit, one of the most recognizable online Halloween costume shops, offers some of the most blatantly sexist descriptions among the lot. For its "Iris U Luck" costume, which includes a glimmering shamrock applique on each breast, the website offers the following description:
"Get lucky in this darling green and white Iris U Luck adult women's costume. They'll be reaching for those shamrocks, that's for sure! Dance a jig in this flirty dress and live it up on Halloween."
Spirit's belly-and bust-baring Lucky Charm Womens Costume also includes a -- no surprise here -- "get lucky" reference and suggests the buyer should first "dance an Irish jig in the kicky skirt."
DanceCostumes.com jumped on the uninspired catchphrase bandwagon, instructing the buyer to "get lucky" in the Lucky Leprechaun Costume, a strapless poly-spandex skin-tight cocktail dress. "Get dancing," the description continues.
One of the most perplexing costume-accessory combinations comes courtesy of DanceCostumes.com in the form of the Dancing Leprechaun Costume. While it's safe to expect bursting bustlines and skirts barely covering the model's bottom, it's unclear why this "Irish stage production" dress includes a floppy foam hat and a green riding crop. It's clear that the costume designer was going more for green dominatrix than step dancer.
As the Google search for Irish dancer Halloween costumes continues, it becomes increasingly apparent by the automatic inclusion of a frilly apron that Halloween costume designers equate any "cultural" costume to a French maid outfit -- just in a different color, depending on the country being represented. Just about every mass-produced "Irish dancer" Halloween costume is green, which might seem like an obvious color choice, except even a newbie Irish dancer would know that custom Irish dance dresses come in virtually every color under the sun. It's almost a rarity to catch a glimpse of an all-green solo dress.
Do these costumes offend you? Or have you come to expect women's Halloween attire to be skimpy and misrepresentative? Feel free to leave your comments below.
Originally published in 2011.