Some might think the first real sign of autumn’s arrival is colder weather, falling leaves, or maybe even seasonal lattes, but the wisest among us know that the true harbinger of fall is the annual viral Halloween costume. While it’s hard to truly top 2017’s Anne Frank children’s costume or the “tranny granny” costume sold by Walmart in 2016, it was only a matter of time before 2018 finally marked its move away from the dog days of summer with an impressive contender for Worst Costume of All Time.
First spotted on Twitter, Yandy’s “Brave Red Maiden Costume” is a sexy take on the iconic red robes that enslaved surrogates are forced to wear in Hulu’s dystopian drama The Handmaid’s Tale. Yandy’s X-but-make-it-slutty version of a symbol of women’s state-sanctioned oppression included a hooded red cloak, a red minidress, and a white bonnet that, according to the website copy, allows the wearer to “be bold and speak your mind.” Despite the eye-popping $65 price tag, pantyhose are not included, which is a real shame since any sexy handmaid is likely to get cold in that minidress. Outrage was swift and mocking, and within 24 hours of the costume making the rounds on Twitter, Yandy pulled it from their site with a statement that included the mesmerizing lines “Over the last few hours, it has become obvious that our ‘Yandy Brave Red Maiden Costume’ is being seen as a symbol of women’s oppression, rather than an expression of women’s empowerment.”
Obvious might be an understatement for the uniform rage and ridicule that constituted the initial reaction to the costume. But to be honest, I found it all a bit overblown. Anyone who was truly surprised by a racy take on Handmaid’s Tale has clearly not been paying attention to the ever-expanding power of the sexy-Halloween-costume industrial complex. At this point, entire sites are devoted to churning out sensual versions of the uniforms of entirely mundane occupations, and it should go without saying that the sites wouldn’t exist unless someone was buying from them. In many ways, the “Brave Red Maiden” costume is the hilarious Dadaist endpoint of years of the commodification of feminism and the transformation of Halloween into an entirely consumerist holiday predicated on selling people costumes, alcohol, and candy.
Some critics are arguing that detractors are missing how subversive the costume, which authoritarians in Gilead would have surely hated, might be.
I guess? While I highly doubt the makers at Yandy were thinking with that much complexity, all this debate is naught now that the costume has been pulled from Yandy’s website. Unless, of course, some enterprising amateur seamstress decides to Etsy their own sexy handmade handmaid’s robe, in which case we would all do well to remember: There can be no ethical Halloween under capitalism.