Calgary feminist group takes back Halloween

The event encourages party-goers to don costumes that are empowering, clever, and diverse.

A feminist theatre company in Calgary is taking back Halloween from what they consider to be an oversexualized costume industry.

The group, Urban Curvz, is holding an event on October 31 called Take Back Halloween, which “promotes the opportunity for all genders to make and wear costumes that are empowering, clever and diverse.”

The organizers were inspired to launch the campaign after they spotted a sexy leopard costume geared towards three-year-olds in a costume shop window.

“When we saw that [. . .], the artistic director of Urban Curvz and I thought, ‘You know what, this is a problem for all ages,’” said Pam Rocker in an interview with the Calgary Eyeopener. “And this is something that we want to take back by having something like a feminist costume contest where you actually have to be creative and think about things that don’t gender stereotype and that maybe actually empower women.”

Some of the plans for the event include a feminist costume contest and a patriarchy haunted house, which will illustrate the spooky side of gender issues.

In the description for their Halloween event, the organizers defined feminist costumes as costumes that do not appropriate cultures, are not racist, and are not misogynistic, while at the same time are not slut-shaming.

“We are not saying that if you want to be a sexy nurse that’s bad, but we want to provide an alternative to something that isn’t gender stereotyping,” said Rocker.

The group also acknowledged that it is not only women and girls, but people of all genders who are victims of this oversexualized holiday.

“There is also a ‘mac pimp daddy’ costume for eight-year-old boys [. . .] I also saw a sexy Bert and Ernie and a sexy pizza slice,” explained Rocker.

Gals and ghouls looking to don feminist costumes this Halloween can reference Suzanne Scoggins’ costume guide, Take Back Halloween, which markets itself as “a costume guide for women with imagination.”

Created in 2011, the guide is divided into four categories: Glamour Grrls, Goddesses and Legends, Notable Women, and Queens. Costume ideas include Athena, Josephine Baker, Audrey Hepburn, and Jane Austen.

In addition to providing viewers with ideas from diverse backgrounds, the guide offers tips for creating these costumes at a reduced cost.

The guide, as well as the event, aim to deconstruct and dispose of the harmful gender stereotypes surrounding this holiday and to make it more friendly and accessible to the whole gender spectrum.

Rocker concluded with her hopes for the event: “Awareness doesn’t have to be a drag and that’s really important to us, so we want it to be an exciting night for people.”

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