Monday, October 26, 2015

Halloween and the Hoochie Horseback Rider

It's that time of year again, my friends. Candy corn, "Trick or Treat," ghosts and ghouls and girls dressed like ladies of the night. 

Time for my annual rant about the short, the sheer, the utterly inappropriate Halloween costumes available for girls.

In 2011, the year I launched Lovin' the Alien, I wrote about the Candy Cane Ho, a costume so ludicrously offensive, it simply couldn't be ignored. Two years later, I talked about skimpy witches and sexy penguins, and the other classy options available to our girls. (Happily, my daughter has never felt compelled to show that much skin on an October evening here in chilly New England. Brrr.)

This year, my now teenage daughter forwarded a picture of a new costume which has both of us shaking our heads. It's a "Sexy Equestrienne," and it's about as far from depicting an actual athlete as it can be.

Let's start with that word: "athlete." My daughter and her pony-loving peers are athletes. No question. A gym teacher once told her that riding was "a hobby, not a sport." Well, I'd like to challenge him to a little friendly competition. Can he post up and down in a saddle for 45 minutes? Tell a 1,200-pound animal to change gaits or direction by squeezing his thigh muscles? Lug tack trunks in and out of trailers? Or carry 50-pound water buckets uphill to the barn?

Hmmm. 'Didn't think so.

That's all in a day's work for my daughter. 

As far as sexiness is concerned, I assure you it is the last thing on any equestrienne's mind while she's training or competing. Don't get me wrong, most girls who take riding seriously have great figures (see typical workout described above) and I've seen many of them, my daughter included, clean up very nicely. But, when they're on their horse, in a ring or on a trail, they are working too hard to worry about how alluring they may or may not look.

The "Sexy Equestrienne" may be new, but it's not exactly news. Most costumes available for girls — even tweens and younger — can aptly use the adjective "sexy." There are sexy policewomen, sexy nurses, sexy vampires, sexy kittens, sexy crayons, sexy bumblebees and, of course, my all-time favorite sexy candy corn. Often, there are sexy girl versions of the same decidedly un-sexy boy costumes, as my friend's then 8-year old daughter pointed out in this video.

Do girls really want to look like ... um ... professionals? According to the much-loved movie Mean Girls, the answer is "Yes." As Lindsay Lohan's Cady Stanton learns "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, I'm not buying it. 

A big part of how girls (and young women) define their attractiveness and value is driven by the media. From very young ages, they're bombarded by sexy images. I also think that a big factor behind the "every costume looks like a hoochie-mama" phenomenon is an economic one. Less fabric, more profit. It's that simple.

Actual equestrienne clothing (as opposed to the "Sexy Equestrienne" costume) requires significantly more fabric: reinforced seats and knees, layers that actually protect and perform.

If someone attempted to do dressage, stadium jumping or cross-country in the Halloween costume depicted above, my daughter and her teammates would choke with laughter.

And their horses probably would too.

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