Holidays, pop culture

A Last-Minute Holiday Resolution

So. What the ever-loving #$%&  is going on with all the Christmas that has been blasting me in the face every time I walk into a store since before Halloween?  I saw the first Christmas decorations up, in 7-11, on the Wednesday before Halloween. That’s two full months before Christmas.

The weekend following, while people were still stumbling drunkenly through the streets in slutty pancake costumes everywhere I turned, I went to Target and found an enormous display full of trees and lights and all that stuff. I looked around, and, even with a concerted effort, the only Thanksgiving-related products I could find occupied one measly shelf in the craft/office supply area of the store. So what gives?

Well, obviously, there’s some corporate greed going on here. Clearly, Christmas is the most lucrative holiday of the year, and Thanksgiving is not even close, so all these big ole’ businesses are saying to themselves, “hey  guys, I bet if we made the Christmas season twice as long, we could make twice as much money! Right? Right?”

And they may be. After all, the minute I walked into Target and saw all those cheery, glittery bits calling my name, I was struck with the thought that it would be so nice to get a jump on my Christmas preparations this year. It would be convenient to have that extra time to prepare, and I could enjoy the holiday more if , come December, I didn’t feel so stressed out about everything I had to do. All the things I had to buy, all the stuff I had to get and wrap up in all that wrapping paper I would need to procure, and…

Well, pretty much immediately,  my very perceptive partner, D-bizzle (names have been very slightly changed), pointed out to me that not two days ago I had been speaking bitterly against the greed of companies who thought it was ok to bypass the relatively cheap holiday about togetherness and family (Thanksgiving) in favor of the relatively expensive holiday about togetherness and family (Christmas). It didn’t and doesn’t sit well with me.

I’m faced with this dilemma: having Christmas stuff available two months before it’s needed is undeniably convenient, but I feel morally obligated to fight back against corporate greed at its most obvious. It’s the same reason why I never go to black Friday sales. I don’t feel inclined to buy a bunch of things I don’t need just because it’s cheap at events where people are not unlikely to make the news for being trampled to death inside Wal-Mart.

I have settled on this compromise: this Sunday is November 24. That is precisely 1 month before I need to have all my Christmas doodads in a row, so that is when I will begin preparing. No sooner. Even though all that glitter. I realize just one person making this decision is not going to send any kind of message to corporations. At least, not right now. While it’s only one person. But I intend to make this a permanent rule for myself. You’re welcome to do the same.

We can feel all cool and hipster-y together buying tinsel at Target on November 25.


Holidays, pop culture

Get Spooky with Your Waitress

Let’s talk about Halloween costumes.

I’m a crafty lady, and I love making my own costumes. I’ve been Peter Pan, Cruella DeVille (favorite costume award: strangers on the street sang the theme song to me all night long), Sailor Moon, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a flapper, a clown (three years in a row. I had an odd childhood.), a pirate, and I can’t even remember what else. Most of these costumes I made myself. Some of them were sexy, and some of them weren’t. But I’ve never been anything where “sexy” was part of the concept of the costume. Peter Pan is a little boy, so, guess what? Not sexy.

Like many people, I’m getting a little tired of the pre-packaged sexy costume trend. Want to be a “Sexy Pineapple?” I’m sure there’s a way to make that happen. Which I guess is cool? if a little weird. My problem with The Sexy Costume is not that I have a problem with sexy costumes. I’m pretty into sexy costumes, to be honest. I think people should totally be allowed to be sexy if they want, not just on Halloween, but on every day of the year. There’s really nothing exotic about loving your body and wanting to show it to people, and the idea that Halloween is the one night of the year that women can sex it up with impunity is absurd. It plays into the idea that a woman’s sexuality is somehow taboo. As taboo as zombies, even. Which is just crazy talk.

So my main problem with the pre-packaged sexy costume is, as I said, that it exoticizes female sexuality. Also,  I think it’s boring.  If you’re going to dress up as a Sexy Ant, at least have the creativity to make your own costume. Buying a cheaply made polyester one for two hundred bucks off the internet is sort of an extreme waste of money, and it screams “I have the creativity of a rock, so we’re probably not going to have very much to talk about if you approach me at this party.” Which, I don’t know, maybe that’s your intention. In which case, by all means, buy that $150 Sexy Tampon costume. It’s so you!

But just because I don’t think Sexy Pancakes are very interesting, doesn’t mean I’m offended by them. I don’t think that the Sexy Blank Costume craze is ruining Halloween. I think it’s interesting and kind of sad that some people do:

The folks at the Real History Project have created this website. It’s a really unique Halloween website, in that it’s run by historians who created a bunch of historically accurate DIY costume ideas for women. So it’s great because 1) the ideas are really unique, and 2) it’s an opportunity for easy crafting! If you get a costume idea from this website I will be impressed and love it, and maybe even love you! The costumes on this site say to me, “I’m pretty smart and I like history and feminism, so we’d probably have a lot to talk about if you approach me at this party!” So I love everything about this website except the name: Take Back Halloween.

What exactly are we taking Halloween back from? Did “we” own it before, and then the sexy slut brigade stole it, preventing us from ever again using Halloween for what it was initially intended to be, which is a time for adults to dress up like historically accurate characters and talk about politics over bowls of candy? No. No one owns Halloween. The idea that there is a right way to do Halloween is like saying there is a right way to do any other holiday: “you celebrate Christmas but you didn’t go to church? Uh, oh, better take that holiday back from you.” “You celebrate Thanksgiving by eating Chinese food? Nope, not gonna fly, you’re going to have to give that holiday back. You’re doing it totally wrong.”

Halloween is a chance to party. Halloween also often involves children. It is supposed to be fun. And, it‘s the one day of the year that you can dress up as absolutely whatever you want, and no one is going to bat an eye. Want to be Adam and Eve, complete with no clothing whatsoever? Seen it. No one cared. (ok, there were pasties.) Want to be a sexy piece of bacon? Please, please, do. I would actually love to see that. (Guess what, I thought I was just making that up, but here it is.)

Now I know there is more to be covered in the “what is an appropriate Halloween costume” conversation than just the sexy/not sexy/”your grandmother is going to see those pictures” debate. For instance, this student group at Ohio University created a really smart ad campaign about the stigmatizing influence of racist costumes, which I think is totally rad. And while I think that we need to be careful about when we say appropriation is “bad” I do agree that there are some things that are pretty uncool. But ultimately, decisions about when cultural appropriation in a Halloween costume is acceptable are personal decisions, often made with an awareness of who you’re going to be around when you decide to dress up as, say, a Nazi.

Depictions of Halloween traditionally incorporate frightening, shocking, and bizarre images. You are likely to be put in situations where people are actively trying to scare you. With that in mind, the modern culture of Halloween embraces the idea that people can dress up as anything–there are no taboos. No one thinks that if you dress up as sexy corn, it’s because you have a corn fetish. I think it’s sort of understood that whatever you do on Halloween, it’s not real life, and tomorrow at the office, you’re going to go back to being your normal, culturally sensitive, maybe-sexy-maybe-not self. Which I think is so great.

Bring on the Sexy Pizza.