Arguing as to the sexist nature of contemporary Halloween costumes, I’ve tried to problematize the fact that men often dress up as women:
Perhaps the ultimate evidence that femininity is hilarious or ridiculous [in U.S. culture], or even frightening or disgusting, is the fact that men use the category “woman” as a costume. They are not doing so to revere them, they do so to mock them.
More evidence for this comes in the nature of the “woman” costumes sold. Many of them add fat hatred to the mix: because there is nothing more disgusting and hilarious than a fat woman, except maybe a fat woman who fails to be properly humiliated by her failure to embody “proper” femininity.
Examples, some sent in by Michaela Null from Purdue University:
You might be asking yourself, “Wait, those last two count as ‘fat’!?” Don’t hate the messenger. They are described as fat by the manufacturers/marketers.Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions, with Myra Marx Ferree. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.