A “se.xy” handmaiden’s Halloween costume inspired by Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel and now TV show The Handmaid’s Tale could have been yours for a red hot second. The outfit – sold by United states lingerie company Yandy – was declared “offensive” by the internet. Of course.
Yandy duly removed the Sexy Halloween Costumes For Women, saying: “Over the final few hours, it is obvious that the ‘Yandy Brave Red Maiden Costume’ has been viewed as a symbol of women’s oppression, rather than an expression of women’s empowerment.” In the true spirit of Halloween, removing the costume from sale had been a misstep. The costume casts one of the spookiest images feasible for modern women. The spectre of the handmaiden is really haunting, much more compared to a ghoul or ghost or zombie.
For all those unfamiliar with Atwood’s nightmarish world, a handmaiden is actually a woman that has an intact reproductive system inside an era of growing infertility. Handmaidens are required to carry the offspring in the ruling class. They wear distinctive red dresses and white bonnets that obscure their faces.
The handmaidens are women who are valued simply for their reproductive function, they have got no autonomy, and therefore are essentially raped each and every time these are allotted to bear a young child. In Atwood’s dystopia, women generally speaking aren’t allowed to read or write and are stuck in domestic roles. As Yandy highlights in their apology, handmaiden’s costumes (albeit canonical, non-s.exy versions) have already been donned around the globe by protesters demanding greater rights for women. The costumes were utilised in Ireland and Argentina to campaign for abortion rights, these people were used in Britain to protest Donald Trump’s state visit, and they’ve been used around the US to protest several bills, such as funding cuts to reproductive health centres. The idea is to draw in a parallel in between the way women are silenced in dystopian fiction and the way women in today’s political climate feel silenced on matters associated with their very own bodies. To some extent, the dystopia is here.
The Sexy Halloween Costumes For Women takes this iconic handmaiden image and propels it in to the absurd. It shortens and tightens the figureless red robe and adds fishnet stockings and incredibly high heel shoes. Not only does it connote an (much too real) world where girls have no say over their reproductive health, but it additionally brings to the fore the veracity that ladies are overtly se.xualised.
It’s easy to see why so many people wrote into Yandy proclaiming that it absolutely was offensive, but surely there’s also something darkly humorous about this too. It’s bizarre that somehow the industry of retail has the capacity to spin a story about oknqdh and misogyny into an empowering garment. The first item description read: “An upsetting dystopian future has emerged where women will no longer possess a say. However, we say be bold and speak your brain within this exclusive Brave Red Maiden costume.” The irony astounds.
Beyond the laughter, if they meant to or otherwise, Yandy sold an ideal Sexy Halloween Costumes For Women. It mixes the puritanical reproductive coercion in the Handmaid’s Tale with all the objectification and commercialisation of female bodies. It displays a dystopian reality that may be within our future, and might describe our present. It’s a truly scary method to observe Halloween.