Just when you thought you’d seen it all when it comes to brands commodifying feminism, Yandy had to go and make a ‘sexy’ _Handmaid's Tale_ Halloween costume and blow us out the water with a brand-new height of tone-deaf. Yes, that powerful feminist costume that’s currently being used to protest Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination following sexual assault allegations? It’s now been cut at the thigh and turned into a playful dress to celebrate the dead rising amongst the living.
Yandy, a lingerie and adult Halloween costume maker, debuted the costume yesterday, which features a red cape and white bonnet – just like the handmaid's that are forced into surrogacy on the TV show – coupled with white fishnets and black stilettos.
‘An upsetting dystopian future has emerged where women no longer have a say,’ the description reads, ‘however, we say be bold and speak your mind in this exclusive Brave Red Maiden costume featuring a red mini dress, a matching cloak with an attached hood, and a white bonnet headpiece.’
Where… To… Begin?
Fortunately, the brand removed the costume this morning after it sparked outrage online, but have released a statement defending their decision. ‘Yandy always has stood, and will continue to stand, at the forefront of encouraging our customers to “Own Your Sexy”. We support our customers being comfortable in their skin, regardless of who they are or what they choose to wear,’ the statement read.
‘Our corporate ideology is rooted in female empowerment, and gender empowerment overall. 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’, it continued, ‘This is unfortunate, as it was not our intention on any level. Our initial inspiration to create the piece was through witnessing its use in recent months as a powerful protest image.
‘Given the sincere, heartfelt response, supported by numerous personal stories we’ve received, we are removing the costume from our site.’
They’re removing it, excellent, but hidden between the lines of that non-apology is that we’re somehow attacking a woman’s right to wear a sexy Halloween costume, which is as far from the point as you could get.
The women in _The Handmaids Tale_ have no autonomy over their sexualities, their reproductive organs are completely controlled by the state and they’re continuously raped and abused. To use this costume as a protest piece is powerful, to commodify it (for $64.95 at that) and profit from something women are using to fight sexual abuse is not just distasteful, it’s abhorrent.
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Turning this costume into a ‘sexy’ costume isn’t telling women to reclaim their sexuality. The fishnets? The black stilettos? The dressing up like a sex slave? That’s telling women how to fit into the straight male gaze, and perpetuating existing objectification of women (and lazily at that) which is exactly what the Handmaids Tale calls out.
Wearing a sexy Halloween costume is all fun and games, and there’s surely tons of sexy vampires and ghost costumes out there to choose from, but a ‘sexy’ version of a costume that signifies women being raped and abused? That’s not sexy at all.