I always do a little blurb on Take Back Halloween, since the site has been around as long as this blog has! The site aims to show readers how to make positive feminist costumes for Halloween.
The site highlights notable historical and fictional women of all races from all over the world; gives instructions on how to create the outfits–usually through a combination of off-the-rack items and accessories, so even if you can’t sew, you can make the outfits; and also provides history lessons about the characters and historical figures, who fall into four major categories: Glamour Grrls, Goddesses and Legends, Notable Women, and Queens.
One of the important features of the site is providing ideas for costumes and knowledge about women (and goddesses!) of color for women of color to dress as.
A note about offensive costumes
We shouldn’t have to say this, but: ethnic stereotype costumes are A Bad Idea. Geisha girl? “Poke-Her-Hotness”? People, that stuff is just not cool.
In putting together our costume resources, we’ve run across some extremely useful items that unfortunately have extremely annoying names. Like “geisha wig.” The wig in question is just the bouffant upsweep hairdo that women in China, Japan, and Korea have worn at various times over the past two thousand years, and it comes in awfully handy if you’re dressing up as, say, Wu Zetian. Yet apparently there is an unwritten rule that any remotely Asian-looking wig for sale in North America has to be labeled a “geisha wig.” Drives us absolutely nuts. We’ve made every effort to avoid products like that, and even spent hours shopping for sites that don’t have gross labeling. But obviously we have no control over what descriptions retailers use, so we apologize for any links that turn creepy.
What I like about this site is that there are many options–not just to dress as something other than “sexy version of male costume,” but different kinds of women across time, space, and the gender and sexuality spectrum: Josephine Baker, Freyja, Isis, Artemis, Rosalind Franklin, Frida Kahlo, Phyllis Wheatley, Christina of Sweden, Fu Hao, Himiko, Liliuokalani. These women are smart, creative, influential, revolutionary. Sometimes they’re glamorous and sometimes they’re not.
There are many ways to disrupt Halloween marketing to women, and Take Back Halloween is a wonderful resource for costumes that not only don’t rely on offensive gender and racial stereotypes but can help pave the way for visibility of these historical figures and characters, many of whom are often ignored in history and literature.
Check out Take Back Halloween’s Facebook page here.